Exploring Israel: Spending a day in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is such an interesting and historic city with so many stories and cultures. Especially the Old Town is a must-visit when you are travelling to Jerusalem. During my roundtrip through Israel, I’ve spent some days in and around the city. In this article I will tell you more about the day we went through Jerusalem.
Mount of Olive
We started our day at the Mount of Olive, just outside the city centre of Jerusalem. From here, you can have some breath taking views over the city. Especially for the people who are religious, this mountain can be very special. According to the gospels, Jesus was staying here many times.
The Mount of Olive also features some churches. One of the churches we visited, was the Church of all Nations. This church is located next to the Court of Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus spent some time in the night of his crucifixion. The church was built between 1919 and 1924. Although the church was very beautiful from the outside and inside, it was very crowded. If you would like to visit the church, it’s recommended to go very early.
Other well-known places which you can find on the Mount of Olive, are the Mary Magdalene Church and the Hebrew cemetery.
Probably the most interesting part of the city Jerusalem would be the Old Town part. Back in 1860, this part of Jerusalem was the only part which belonged to the city. That’s also the reason why the Old Town part nowadays is located between the historical city walls. The wall had 11 gates in the past, but at the moment there are only 7 left. The Old Town is also divided in four quarter, namely the Muslim quarter, the Christian quarter, the Jewish quarter and the Armenian quarter. There are several buildings and places in Old Town which are interesting to visit.
Via the Damascus Gate we entered Old Town and went directly in the Muslim quarter with cosy streets and many little shops. It’s very hard to explain to walk around Old Town, with so many different cultures and so many different streets; it’s a huge experience.
After walking around the Muslim quarter, we walked a little distance of the well-known Via Dolorosa. Nowadays, the Via Dolorasa is just a street in Jerusalem, but in the past, as they said, walked Jesus through this path with his cross. The path starts at the courthouse where he was convicted by Pontius Pilatus and ends to the hill Calvary, where Jesus was crucified. The happenings during the crossroad of Jesus are split up in 14 nations.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
After walking a small part of the Via Dolorosa, we ended up at a square in the middle of the Christian quarter, where we ate something. After lunch, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was nearby. A very important church in the Christian religion. The church is told to be built on the place where Jesus has been buried. In the church, you can find the grave of Jesus. Also in this church I found it very crowded, which didn’t make the visit very pleasant. You can enter the church for free.
The Dome of the Rock
After the Christian quarter, we ended up in the Jewish quarter, where we did some walking over the rooftops; this was a very unique experience. From the rooftops, you could see the Dome of the Rock beautifully. The Dome of the Rock is one of the images of Israel, you can find the building on almost each picture of Jerusalem. The dome is very easily to find, because it is gold colored and its located on the Temple Mount. The shrine has been built in 691 and is a beautiful example of the Islamic architecture.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque
Close to the Dome of the Rock, also on the Temple Mount, you can find this imposing mosque, which is one of the most important holy places in the Islamic religion. The mosque has been built between 710 and 715.
The Western Wall
This wall is also located at the Temple Mount and is already for a long time the place for Jews to come and pray. The Western Wall is a remaining of the wall of the Jewish Temple, which was built on the Temple Mount but destroyed. The Western Wall is very well-known and a must-visit during your time in Jerusalem. It gives such an unique and special experience.
It’s tradition to write down a prayer on a little paper and to put this paper between the stones of the wall. When the people are done praying, they walk, out of respect, backwards back to the entrance. As you may already know, there is a separate piece of the Western Wall for the women and men, so men and women need to pray separately.
There are also other places in and around Jerusalem which are definitely worth a visit. Think about Bethlehem, Knesset and Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum).
Have you ever been to Jerusalem before? What did you think about this interesting city?