On Friday afternoon, we visited the old city of Jerusalem.
Its history is so complex it would be too long to explain here, but you can have a look on Wikipedia. To summarize: a very long time ago, importants events happened in the old city of Jerusalem for the Jews, the Catholics and the Muslims. Years passed, and Jerusalem became claimed by the 3 monotheistic religions. Then the city had been divided into 4 parts: the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter, so that everybody could live together.
The old city almost did not change until today. We entered by Jaffa gate. From the outside, you can sea huge ramparts hiding minarets and church towers. Inside, it is a labyrinth of tiny little streets. It’s easy to get lost, but our guide showed us the way to the main monuments.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
It is located in the Christian Quarter. It looks like a common church, but what we saw inside was really amazing. The church is supposed to be located on the Golgotha, the hill where Jesus was crucified. The church is divided into many chapels, with a different architectural style. In one of the chapel, we saw people queuing up in order to touch with their hand the rock on which the church is built.
In another room, we saw people lying on and kissing the Stone of Anointing, on which they suppose Jesus had been anointed before he was buried.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was overcrowded, with pilgrims coming from everywhere. We could really see their religious fervour.
Then we went out of the church, walked in a few streets, and arrived almost as if by magic on the most famous plaza in Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount and the Western Wall
This place is sacred for Jews. It is said the Western Wall is a vestige of the Temple. The plaza is full of people: tourists, but also worshipers. Like them, we went in front of the wall, touched it, and put a prayer note with a wish between the stones. Even if you are not religious, the Western Wall is very impressive by its size (its very high!) and the people praying there.
Just behind the wall, we could see the Dome of the Rock shining under the sun.
The Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque
They are located in the Muslim Quarter. Unfortunately, we could not visit these two monuments, because it was on Friday (day of rest), so it was closed. The Dome of the Rock is golden, you can see it from almost everywhere in Jerusalem.
At the end of this visit in the old city, we had realized how much Jerusalem is different from Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv had seemed to us very young, lively, business-oriented, whereas Jerusalem seemed very ancient, religious, and a patchwork of different people.