Exploring the Old City of Jerusalem

Jerusalem Travel Blog

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View over the Western Wall from the passageway to the Temple Mount

This was a very busy day. We got up early, went for breakfast and then straight to the Temple Mount.

Since it was Ramadan, the visiting hours were limited from 7am to 11am. We got there at around 8am. There's an entrance for non-muslims that leads you right next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque through a passageway above the Western Wall Plaza and after leaving behind the security checks.

In the moment we entered, a couple of guys approached us offering themselves as guides. We declined their offer and did the visit on our owns. We couldn't enter the mosques because it was Ramadan, so we were a bit disappointed. Anyway, the Temple Mount is impressive... and the silence!! Everything was so quiet and silent, quite a contrast with all the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city.

In the passage to the Temple Mount
We walked around the mosques, the gardens, sat down enjoying the view over the Mount of Olives, stared at the amazingly beautiful Dome of the Rock for I don't know how long...

We left the Temple Mount and went through the Cotton Market, where most of the shops and stands were closed, so not much action here. We headed up to Jaffa Gate where we wanted to join a free tour around the Old City.

The tour started at 11am and took almost 3 hours. The tour was really informative and interesting and it gave us an overview of the Old Town. We started just outside the Jaffa Gate and went through the christian quarter to the Holy Sepulchre Church but we didn't get in. The guide told us that this church is shared by 6 different christian religions.

Entering the Temple Mount
.. Roman catholic and Greek, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian and Syrian orthodox. To avoid disputes/fights among the different religions, the entrance is controlled by a muslim family since Saladdin times, back in the XII century. So everyday early in the morning, one of the members of the muslim family opens the door and will go back to lock it at the end of the day. After this, we walked through the muslim quarter all the way down to the Western Wall Plaza and started our way up through the jewish quarter to the armenian one and the roof promenade.

Exhausted as we were due to the heat and the walks up and down the city, we went back to the hotel for a little nap. When we woke up (around 15h30) we realized we still had the ticket from the day before to the northern ramparts walk, and the entrance closed at 16h!! And my God, were we tired!! After a few minutes trying to decide whether to go or not, our travelling spirit prevailed and we rushed to the tickets office, totally sleepy.

Al-Aqsa Mosque
It was 16h sharp, and the woman in the office told us a guy was waiting for us at the entrance to lock the door behind us. We felt really stressed when we entered the ramparts, so we sat down for quite a while trying to wake up fully and recover from all the rush. We were in no hurry now because the exits of the ramparts close at 19h.

The northern ramparts walk took us from Jaffa Gate to Lion's Gate, via New, Damascus and Herod's Gates. It goes around the christian quarter on to the muslim one. This is the part I enjoyed the most. You get a really close view of the muslim houses, great views over the mosques and East Jerusalem, with all its hustle and bustle. I think it took us about an hour until we reached the Lion's Gate (or St. Stephen's).

The Temple Mount
Not far from there, we started another walk... the Via Dolorosa.

We went through the muslim quarter to the Holy Sepulcre Church following (in theory) the footsteps of Jesus when he was carrying the cross to Calvary. The walk consists of 14 stations, the last 5 are inside the Holy Sepulchre Church. Some of the stations on the way are very easy to miss. The Holy Sepulchre Church really impressed us. It's not a church like the ones we are used to. As I said before, it holds 6 different christian beliefs, so everyone of them has their own space inside the church (except the Ethiopians who have their chapel on the back roof). It's a compound of different chapels, altars, mosaics, etc... It was full of people wandering around and many others queueing to see the Holy Sepulchre.

The Dome of the Rock
Since we had done the whole walk, we didn't want to miss the last station... the Tomb of Jesus, and also my christian background was "calling" and it's something I felt I had to do for my parents, who are very religious. So we stood in line (more like a pushing crowd) for almost an hour... God, that was claustophobic. People were pushing from all possible directions and we couldn't move a bit. Finally, we entered, kissed the rock, and left.

It had been a great, though exhausting, day. Too many things, too much information... we needed some time to sort all that out in our heads and assimilate all the things we had seen and learnt. We didn't even go out for dinner that night. We grabbed some stuff on our way back to the hostel and ended the day watching a beautiful sunset from the rooftop. Beautiful end for a great day.

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View over the Western Wall from th…
View over the Western Wall from t…
In the passage to the Temple Mount
In the passage to the Temple Mount
Entering the Temple Mount
Entering the Temple Mount
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount
Entrance to the cotton market
Entrance to the cotton market
Outside the cotton market
Outside the cotton market
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The christian quarter
The christian quarter
The Holy Sepulchre Church
The Holy Sepulchre Church
The Holy Sepulchre Church, Ethiopi…
The Holy Sepulchre Church, Ethiop…
The Holy Sepulchre Church
The Holy Sepulchre Church
The Holy Sepulchre Church
The Holy Sepulchre Church
The christian quarter
The christian quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The muslim quarter
The Western Wall Plaza
The Western Wall Plaza
Passage to the Temple Mount
Passage to the Temple Mount
The Western Wall Plaza
The Western Wall Plaza
The Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Al-Aqsa Mosque
The old city
The old city
View from the roofs
View from the roofs
View from the roofs
View from the roofs
View from the roofs
View from the roofs
The armenian quarter
The armenian quarter
The armenian quarter
The armenian quarter
The armenian quarter
The armenian quarter
Market in the old city
Market in the old city
Damascus gate
Damascus gate
Damascus gate
Damascus gate
Damascus gate
Damascus gate
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk, view ov…
The nothern Ramparts Walk, view o…
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
The nothern Ramparts Walk
Walking the Via Dolorosa from Lion…
Walking the Via Dolorosa from Lio…
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
Walking the Via Dolorosa
The Stone of the Unction - Walking…
The Stone of the Unction - Walkin…
The Stone of the Unction - Walking…
The Stone of the Unction - Walkin…
The Stone of the Unction - Walking…
The Stone of the Unction - Walkin…
Down to Chapel of St. Helen - Walk…
Down to Chapel of St. Helen - Wal…
Mosaics in the Chapel of St. Helen…
Mosaics in the Chapel of St. Hele…
Entering the tomb - Final station …
Entering the tomb - Final station…
In the room
In the room
Jerusalem
photo by: daynnightraveller