Monday, April 10, 2017

Jerusalem: Discovering the Old City

As Easter approaches I was thinking it is good time to continue my travel writings and publish more photos of Jerusalem. When I decided to travel to Israel I was hundred percent sure that I have to see Jerusalem. It is simply such an interesting city with all its history that I did not want to skip this visit during my stay. I think it is true what our guide said: many of us grow up hearing the name of city so many times that when you arrive here already this gives a special touch to the travel experience.

Here is a short recap of some of the main sights of the Old City of Jerusalem

  • Jaffa Gate
  • David`s Tower
  • Armenian Patriarchate (Armenian Quarter)
  • Church of St Mark (Armenian Quarter)
  • David`s Tomb (Armenian Quarter)
  • Cathedral of St James (Armenian Quarter)
  • Western Wall (Jewish Quarter)
  • Cardo (Jewish Quarter)
  •  Hurda Synagogue (Jewish Quarter)
  • Mameluk era buildings (Muslim Quarter)
  • Temple Mount /Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque (on Fridays closed for non-Muslim visitors)
  • Via Dolorosa (Muslim Quarter)
  • Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Christian Quarter)

I did the "Holy City Tour" of Sandemans Jerusalem which started at 11 am. The evening before I was exhausted (but happy too) from my Mount of Olives Tour so I did not hurry with breakfast that much the next day and I planned only some gift shopping and walking from the hostel to Jaffa Gate after breakfast. When I travel alone I like to stay at hostels because it is nice to get to know like-minded people from all around the world and share our travel stories with others who are going through the same experiences as we do. I stayed at Stay Inn Hostel what I can recommend to everyone. The place opened in autumn last year so everything was still really new. It was a ten-fifteen minute walk away from the historic center and the overall comfort level was real good here. Although it is "just" a hostel but for example the design and cleanliness of the bathroom and toilet in our room was similar to those what I have seen in four star conference hotels. 

It was fun to see in the lobby that they still had a Christmas tree there in Mid-January behind which there was a menora. This mix of cultures could be seen all around the city as well.

After breakfast I was heading towards Jaffa Gate. On my way there I saw some other interesting things. For example a guy walking around in a "fuck Obama" T-shirt- it was the time of the UN-scandal thing-, a beautiful flower stand with to my surprise almost identical flowers what we have here, a cool graffiti of some evil creature fighting an angel and a shop where I found a Fatima`s hand paper cut what I took home with me in the end. The paper cut is from the shop of Danny Azoulay in Yo`el Moshe Solomon St 5, Jerusalem. 

this is the paper cut I bought:

The artist is of Moroccan Jewish origin and the symbol in the paper cut is  called the Hamsa. Which is also known as the Hand of Fatima or Hand or Miriam and is a popular symbol throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Our guided tour lasted a whole afternoon during which we visited all main quarters of Jerusalem. Each quarter has its own unique atmosphere and it makes sense to devote at least a half day to browsing through them. To stop for a coffee and soak in a bit the cultural impressions on the road. Because it was Friday we could not go to the Temple Mount since it is closed to Non-Muslim visitors every Friday but the Dome on the Rock was an impressive view even from a distance with its blue tiles and golden shining dome. The narrow streets of the Muslim Quarter, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Via Dolorosa, the bazaars, the Western Wall were all places of very special energies. 

As our day ended it was already before sunset. I could have stayed more in Jerusalem but I am sure that if I can I will return and spend some more time here. This city is really one of its kind.

These photos are from the same T-shirt stand. You can see Free Palestine and Israeli Defense Force T-shirts on the same stand which are obviously approved by the sellers and the local authorities.

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