The Old City of Jerusalem covers a mere one square kilometer, yet there is something simply indescribable about this place, something that washes over you when you visit, something that causes you to wish that these ancient stones could speak, could tell you the stories that have taken place here. The Old City of Jerusalem is the beating heart of this tiny country; it is also the heart of the three Abrahamic religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Western Wall, found in the Old City, is a remnant of an ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple's courtyard. This wall is the most significant site in the world for Jewish people today.
Above the Western Wall lies the Dome of the Rock and Muslims claim that the prophet Mohammed departed from this world at that very place.
A few minutes away lies the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters; the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. One can enter the walled city via seven gates, the one most frequented by tourists being the Jaffa Gate which is located next to the Tower of David Museum. Each quarter is an adventure unto itself, with different sights, sites, atmospheres and experiences.
The Jewish Quarter is characterized by narrow, cobbled alleyways that are lined with homes of Jewish families and schools of Torah study. Teenage Yeshiva students who come to study in Israel for a year after completing high school mingle with the Jerusalemite children, who play without a care in the world as they are passed by wizened old men who are on their way to the study halls.
The narrow alleyways open up by the Western Wall Plaza, a place that becomes incredibly crowded at festive seasons and a visit to this holy site is interesting for any visitor- just keep in mind that there is segregation between the sexes at the Wall and women are expected to wear modest clothing out of respect for the holiness of the site. The Western Wall Tunnels allow for an extended, underground view of the wall. The Little Western Wall, located in the Muslim Quarter is actually regarded as holier than the Western Wall due to it's being closer to the Holy of Holies which was the holiest area of the Temple.
The Muslim Quarter is busier and more crowded than the Jewish Quarter and contains the famous Shuk- outdoor market where almost anything can be bartered for, in a way that takes one back in time to a genuine Middle Eastern marketplace.
The Dome of the Rock sits above the Western Wall Plaza and tourists can tour the compound although non-Muslims may not enter the building itself.
The Christian Quarter is home to about forty holy Christian sites and the streets are often buzzing with priests and pilgrims who have come from all over the globe. The quarter was constructed around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and different parts of the quarter are controlled by different Christian sects.
The Armenian Quarter is the smallest quarter of the Old City with some 2,500 Armenians living there for over two thousand years.
Categories : Attractions
This was my first visit to Israel and I can honestly say that I fell in love with Old City. I felt that I had returned to my source here and thoroughly enjoyed every day spent here. I think the Arab Shuk was so much fun and I bought some great souvenirs but also came armed with advice from my Israeli family- don't ever pay the first price offered to you- only a tourist would do that- bargaining is the name of the game- i know it's far from western culture but that's the way it is here and it's kinda fun...suggest a lower price than what you really mean to pay and argue it out until you reach middle ground. you can always try walking away- if they want your money enough they'll come after you- have fun with it!
This is my fourth time visiting the old city of Jerusalem and after spending an entire week there again I still feel that there is more to be discovered in this magical, mystical place. Some musts- the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall tunnels and the Arab Shuk.
the old city of jerusalem offers an invigorating mix of cultures and religions with many exciting attractions for people of all faiths. be careful of the arab vendors in the shuk- i was with a tour group and more than one member found the aggressive attitudes overwhelming. one friend also found that one vendor used a manual visa card machine and had tried putting through fictional transactions at a later date. be warned! having said that, there are plenty of genuinely good people around too- just remember that they all want to make a living and some will go further than others in order to do so.