While my parents were here, I allowed myself to play tourist. For the first time in 20 years I took a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, which included stops in the Christian and Muslim Quarters where I had never been before.
Our very knowledgeable guide was Fun Joel, who somehow managed to condense 4,000 years of history into half a day. Plus a stop at Aroma. What? It was chilly that day!
We started on the tayelet, with a view of the Old City, and learned about what made Jerusalem such an important strategic and geographic point.
We entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, walked through the Armenian Quarter, and got a view in all four directions.
We learned about the urban plan, hearkening to the Greeks and Romans but ultimately overlaid by the Byzantines and everyone who came later.
After a stop at the Kotel, we wound through the Muslim Quarter. New-to-me stops were the Kotel ha-Katan, a private spot further up the same remnant of the western wall of the Second Temple, and a close-up view of the Dome of the Rock.
In the Christian Quarter there was Roman architecture in evidence everywhere. We saw some of the Stations of the Cross and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was enormous and buzzing and not as church-like as one might expect. Honestly, it didn’t feel like Israel to me, but it’s vital to remember that this is an important place to many, many people. Not just Jews.
One of the most fascinating parts for me was the staircase where hundreds of years worth of pilgrims had etched crosses into the soft limestone walls, indicating that they had come.
Just the architecture of the Muslim and Christian Quarters was fascinating…how quickly I would have passed by without noticing!
It was a great day! (Click on pictures to enlarge.)