The Fella and I took some amazing pictures in Jerusalem yesterday, unfortunately on the ride back to Tel Aviv his camera wiggled loose from his pocket and was never heard from again. We’re hoping that a good Samaritan turns it in to the bus company, there are a lot of pictures with his grandma that we’re really sad to have lost.
In order to blog the day I’m going to rely heavily on Google Images.
We started our day by taking a Western Wall underground tour. Interesting fact, the Western Wall is not the wall of the ancient Jewish temple itself, as we often hear about, it’s the wall of temple compound, a massive city within a city.
The most amazing aspect of this tour to me was how deep the wall goes, as we walked through the layers of rock we were walking through different eras in Jerusalem’s history. The first temple was destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonians, and afterward new cities were continuously built on top of the old. That’s the craziest part to me, they just covered up an old city with some stone and built a new one on top! We could see the pillars, archways, windows of homes, and aqueducts of King Herod’s time (He ruled Judaea from 37 BCE through 4 BCE). The wall that is above ground now is the newest part and it’s 2000 years old!
Afterward we went topside and spent a few minutes at the wailing wall. I’ve been there before, but it’s always a very moving experience. People come from all over the world to pray there. Ladies take note, if you ever visit you need to have your knees covered as well as your shoulders. Men can walk around naked if they want. Definitely a bit unfair. Nonetheless, there are women there handing out shalls and what I like to refer to as safety skirts (cheap skirts to act as a cover up for those wearing shorts or short skirts.
Another aspect that’s unfair: women and men pray separately and the male section is three times the size of the women’s section. Grrr.
When we left the Jewish Quarter we headed over to the Christian area to check out the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is said to be where Jesus was crucified, laid to rest, and was later resurrected. It’s a huge pilgrimage sight for Christians all over the world.
An alter was built around the spot where Jesus is said to have been crucified. You can crawl under that alter and see the ground where the cross was.
This is The Stone of the Anointing where the body of Jesus was said to have been placed after being removed from the cross. Many people bring candles with them, and place them on the rock for a blessing.
This is the tomb where Jesus was said to be buried and later resurrected. Obviously this isn’t my picture, and it wasn’t mass when I was there. In actuality people can go in the tomb, but there are different time slots for different sects. It was Russian Orthodox hour when we were there, so we couldn’t go in, but we could tell it was a highly emotional experience for the people there. One family even brought their infant to be baptized there, which seemed pretty cool.
To any Muslim readers I may have, I’m sorry I couldn’t go to the Dome of the Rock and report back to you. As an American I’m allowed to go, but the general consensus is that Jewish Israelis shouldn’t enter the Muslim holy sight. He has his permanent green card now, and in a couple of years he can apply for American Citizenship and an American Passport, and then we can visit the Golden Dome.
We spent the rest of the day walking through the marketplace of the Old City. Most of the shops are overpriced tourist shops, but if you take some of the long winding pathways you might find yourself in the non-tourist area, where people sell spices, dried beans and fruit, and meat.
It’s really amazing to me that people live within the walls of Old Jerusalem, in 500 to 1000 year old stone houses.
As for food, I didn’t really eat much yesterday. Someone on The Fella’s flight was sick, he got a little sick, one of his friends got really sick, and then I got really sick. Subsequently my appetite wasn’t really up to snuff and I stuck with orange juice and water for the majority of the day. I’m hoping this bug is on its way out, there’s nothing worse than sleeping through your own vacation.