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         Around the Old City

 

 

 

  

Best Places To Visit in Jerusalem

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Around Jerusalem

Herod's Citadel and the Tower of David

Near the Jaffa Gate you will find Harod’s Citadel, a striking, fortified landmark comprised of towers, walls, ramps and gardens that dates back the 2nd century BC.   The site now functions as a museum focused on the Old City. The square tower dates back to the time of Herod, although the round tower named  the Tower of David is a more recent addition and dates from the 16th century. 

 

The narrow streets of the Old City are filled with visitors, residentsA Vendor carrying a tray of bagels through the narrow streets of the Old City and vendors who are moving goods to the various stalls and shopping areas inside the walls.  During Christian religious holidays crowds can become a significant problem, especially during Easter week. If you want to experience Jerusalem during this celebration, you will have little choice but to contend with the crowds.

If the crowds become too much for you, ease out of the traffic and stop in one of the many shops for some peace of mind.  The young men moving goods through the streets seems to have little patience for tourists and, if you are not careful, you may find yourself being pushed up or down the street at the head of cart that simply will not slow.

Via Dolorosa

The Fifth Station of the Cross as marked on Via Dolorosa

Christians believe that Via Dolorosa  represents the path that Jesus tread as he carried his cross to the site of his crucifixion. Beginning at St. Stephen’s gate, the Stations of the Cross end at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Nine of the Stations are along Via Dolorosa and the remaining 5are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There have been many versions of the path in the past and the present route and Stations of the Cross date from the 18th century.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in JerusalemThe Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered the holiest shrine of Christendom.   Believers hold that  the Church encompasses  the Hill of Calvary (Golgotha) where Jesus was crucified, as well as the cave (the Holy Sepulchre) where he was buried and rose from the dead  (the Resurrection) .

These locations were established by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine 1, in the 4th century.  Constantine’s mother, Helena, was tasked  by her son with discovering and preserving the important shines of Christianity in Jerusalem.  During her search she indicated that she was able to identify several sites related to the life of Christ

The foundations of the present church were erected in in early 4th century to commemorate Helena’s finding of the True Cross and the Tomb of the Christ.

The Kouvouklion, a shrine that is believed by many to contain Christ's TombThe interior of the church is quite unremarkable, but it is the belief that this is the site of the Crucifixion and Christ’s tomb that attract the faithful. In the center of a rotunda sits a massive enclosed shrine known as the Kouvouklion that is reputed to be the original location of Christ’s tomb.

The church of the Holy Sepulchre is jointly managed by the Roman Catholic,  Eastern Orthodox (Greek), Armenian Apostolic, Ethiopian Orthodox, as well as the Coptic Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox communities.

 The poor condition of the structure is said to be due to these parties not being able to agree on a maintenance program. Even more confusing, the stewards of the church are very territorial and members of one group are not allowed to enter the section of the church maintained by other groups. In the past, fist fights, wrestling matches and other unchristian behavior have marked the interaction of these groups.

The original church was damaged by fire in the early 7th century andCeiling fresco in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre completely destroyed in the 11th century by agents of the Fatamid Caliphate. Rebuilding started later in the 11th century, but remained unfinished as the church was taken over by a number of non-Christian groups during the succeeding years. In part, the frustrations over the care of the Christian holy sites led to a call for a crusade to restore the church to Christian hands in the 11th century.

Renovations started during the period called the Crusades and continued in fits and starts during the succeeding centuries. Damaged by fire in the early 19th century, the dome collapsed and was later rebuilt.

Curiously, the entrance to the church is still managed by the Joudeh familiy who were given the key to the door by Saladin in the 12th century. The Nusseibeh (the oldest Arab family in Jerusalem) who have been the custodians of the door since the mid-seventh century are brought the key each day a member of the Joudeh family and to this day it is the a member of the Nusseibeh Family who opens the door of the church.

The Cardo

The Damascus Gate leading in to the Old CityThe  Cardo is the road once ran from the Damascus Gate south through the city and a segment of what was once the path of the Cardo is now a tourist area filled with shops and somewhat expensive souvenirs.

A smalll section of the Cardo has been excavated that contains remnants of the two-thousand year old  Roman era avenue that was lined lined with columns and included covered shops. 

The Western Wall

             The Western Wall is one a place of prayer and meditation

The Western Wall is a  retaining wall that helps to support the area known to the Jewish Faith as the Temple Mount. The Western Wall is a site of both religious and national importance to many Israelis.  It is the closest location to the Temple Mount at which members of the Jewish faith can  pray to their God.  The area is partitioned into two prayers sections for women and men.

The large stones at the bottom of the Western Wall are believed by some toThe Western Wall and the entrances to the Rabbinical Tunnels have been part of Solomon’s Temple.  These same  stones have been "polished" by the incredible number of hands that touch them during prayer. Many petitioners leave prayers or requests on paper rolled into small tubes and stuffed in the cracks between the stones.

Approximately two-hundred  feet of  the five-hundred foot long wall are exposed. A large portion of the wall is below ground while other sections hidden by newer construction.   The entrance to the Rabbinical tunnels are located at the north end of the plaza (see photo above) and the interiors are quite interesting,  but can be entered only by males.

We should caution you that the Western Wall is a powerful place and even non-believers who approach the Wall and pray are often  profoundly touched by the experience.  Bring a small piece of paper and a pen, because you will find yourself wanting to leave a rolled note tucked into one of the nooks of the Western Wall. (If you forget, paper and pencils are usually available on one of the tables near the Wall.)

Ha-Hurva Synagogue

 Located in the Jewish Quarter, the Old City’s largest synagogue  was originally built in the early 18th century, but destroyed and rebuilt several times. It was completely destroyed during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and the location of the synagogue was marked with an arch after the Six-Day War  in 1967,  A new synagogue was re-opened  on the site in 2010.

Next - explore the Noble Sanctuary including its Dome of the Rock.

Or - take a look at  the index to the ThereArePlaces Guide to Jerusalem that can be found on the upper right-hand edge of this page.

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Best Places To Visit in Jerusalem

On This Page (2)
Harod"s Citadel
Via Dolorosa
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Cardo
The Western Wall
Ha-Hurva Synagogue

Page 3
Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount
Dome of the Rock
Al-Aqsa Mosque


Page 4
Garden of Gethsemane (including The Basilica of The Agony, The Church of Mary Magdalene and the Virgin's Burial Place)
Kidron Valley
The Knesset
Yad Vashem
The Israel Museum

Page 1
Introduction to the Old City
The Golden Gate

Jerusalem Map

Best Places to Visit in Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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