a must-see program destination. Someone is interested in its multi-faceted history, someone makes pilgrimage tours, and someone is just chasing contrasts and bright colors of this ancient city. Many people are searching for enlightenment here, hoping for a miracle, trying to find answers to their tormenting questions, while others pay tribute to fashion or tradition. And almost any visitor, having wandered through its ancient streets, visited its main holy sites, touched his past and present, changes a little bit. We were no exception. Jerusalem has amazed, delighted and left a deep impression in my memory. During our walks in Jerusalem, I was feeling the proximity of a revelation, as if we were about to witness something mysterious and incomprehensible.
Of course, I had planned our route for Jerusalem, I read many guides, some of which were describing its main attractions step by step. Probably, some people prefer to make use of services of a tour guide for 100 USD, who are ready to tell and show everything they know. They can be easily found at Jaffa Gate any day from the early morning. But as for me, I got used to learning new things and places on my own.
We started our walk through Jerusalem with the
(Western Wall). First, we crossed the Muslim quarter of the Old City. In order to get the Wailing Wall (Western Wall), you must first pass the metal detector.
The main holy place for the Jewish may disappoint you with its lack of expression and simplicity. The Wailing Wall is a fairly common wall made of large stone blocks. The atmosphere of the sacred space is created by orthodox Jews, especially the Hasidim.
There’s always movement near the Wall. Many of those present are swinging, praying ecstatically, while others are busily scurrying back and forth, and others are philosophically looking around. Wives and girlfriends of the tourists are looking funny with cameras and phones, watching on the preponderance their husbands and friends over the fence separating the wide part of the wall for men from the much narrower for women.
The vast empty space near the Wall was once taken by the Moroccan Quarter or Mughrabi Quarter. For centuries Jews were intended to pray only at a narrow part of the street right next to the wall. There were constant conflicts on religious grounds. Only after the Six-Day War in 1967, the city's appearance in this place has been radically changed. All Moroccan quarter was completely destroyed. There were no casualties, but the Jews were determined to put an end to the centuries of the humiliation of their faith. Now this place can simultaneously fit nearly half a million believers.
During our visit, the square near the Western Wall was almost empty, as most of the tourists concentrated in a huge line to the Temple Mount. We also planned to visit this mount owned by Muslims for centuries. I wanted to see the holy El-Aqsa Mosque and even more mysterious the Dome Of The Rock (Qubbat Al-Sakhra), under a giant gilded arch hiding a piece of rock that is considered in all the major religions to be the center of the Universe.
After we saw almost a mile-long line to the entrance to the Temple Mount, we had immediately changed our plans. We were short of time. It was much more interesting to walk along the outer wall, encircling the sacred mountain on the east side.
The famous Golden Gate, tightly immured by Muslims, is located there. Perhaps Jesus Christ came to the city through it, and most importantly, according to the Jewish prophecies, the Messiah is going to enter the city through this gate, raising all the righteous buried in the neighboring Mount of Olives.
Muslims did not only immure the oldest gates of Jerusalem, but they also began to bury their best warriors with their weapons.
We walked along the wall among Muslim graves next to the Lion's Gate in almost complete solitude. Many of the graves near the walls are in poor condition, yet the atmosphere is amazing. Quiet, bright light of the midday sun and breathtaking panorama of the Mount of Olives are worthy of the attention of any traveler.
At some point, you start to realize that you're in this realm of the dead on the verge between eras of the past and the present. The graves are visible up to the horizon line. It was a strange feeling!
From the Lion's Gate, we went down to the foot of the Mount of Olives. In the picture, you can clearly see that the part of the Mount of Olives is covered with greenery with the Orthodox church and monastery of St.Mary Magdalene in the center.
A little higher, an area near the Roman Catholic Dominus Flevit Church was overcrowded. It offers the views of the Old City of Jerusalem.
I was personally interested only in the ancient crypts there. We saw a lot of small coffins.
The famous Garden of Gethsemane with millenary olive trees was not less crowded...Many believe that Jesus Christ witnessed these trees.
From the crowded garden, we went to an almost empty, cool Catholic All Nations Church. According to the legend, there was the rock on which Jesus Christ was praying on his last night before the execution.
Trying to escape from the noisy crowds of tourists, we went down to the foot of the Mount of Olives, where we had unexpectedly found the entrance to the Tomb Virgin Mary.