Exploring the Holy City

Wandering Around Jerusalem - June 2003

Looking north to the Old City from the Haas Promenade
The oldest part of Jerusalem sits on a rocky hilltop between two steep gulches and is surrounded by a high defensive wall of white stone. The golden dome is the famous Dome of the Rock located on the Temple Mount and the darker dome to the right is the El-Aska mosque. The hill to the far right is the Mount of Olives. The smaller golden domes on its lower slope belong to the Russian Church of Mary Magdalene (near the site of the Garden of Gethsemane).

Damascus Gate
Of the seven gates into the Old City, the Damascus Gate to the north is the most ornate. The gate was so named because it marked the start of the road to Damascus. Today it is the main gate to the Palestinian section of Jerusalem and the site of many small markets and vendors.

The Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock
The Wailing (or Western) Wall was part of a large retaining wall that once formed the foundations of the Second Temple built by King Herod in 20BC (and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD). Many people come here to pray or place written prayers in the cracks of the rock. The Dome of the Rock (located on the ruins of the earlier temple) was built by the Muslim leader Omar in 691 AD as a monument to the spot where Muhammad was said to have risen to heaven during a vision.

Back Alleys of the Old City
Most of the old city is a maze of narrow streets and alleys that wind through centuries old buildings that are often three or four stories high. Some areas, like the residential districts (above left) are relatively quiet and empty, while the markets (called 'Souqs') like the food market (above right) are packed with people and products. The city is divided into Jewish, Arabic, Armenian, and Christian quarters (though the exact boundaries are often difficult to determine).

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in the 4th Century AD over the small rocky hill where Jesus was believed to have been crucified and buried. The building is an odd collection of chapels, altars, and basements each looked after by different church orders (Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenians being the most prominent). Although built and rebuilt many times over the centuries, some portions of the original Byzantine Basilica can still be seen in the lower 'Crypts of St. Helena' (upper right).

Jaffa Street in the New City
Substantial building and settlement outside the walls of the old city began in the Nineteenth century along the western road to the coastal city of Jaffa. Today, Jaffa Street is still the main road through the newer portions of west Jerusalem and is a frequent target of bus bombings.

The Second Coming of... Elvis!
The Elvis Inn is a locally famous (infamous?) cafe along the road to Tel Aviv on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The owner is an Elvis fanatic. In addition to featuring the largest known Elvis statue in the Middle East, the cafe also serves up some delightful dishes such as the 'Elvis Burger in a Pita', the 'Hunka hunka Burning Shwarma' and the 'Love Me Tenderloin'.

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