and West Bank

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Israel lies in the unfortunate position right at the join of three very different continents. This land has been disputed over since the dawn of time, and everybody seems to have just as good a reason as anyone else as to why it is rightfully theirs. Jerusalem contains religious centres for Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all within half a mile of each other, and all built on top of other religious grounds. The Jewish Wailing Wall is the only remaining portion of the temple upon which the gold plated Muslim Dome of the Rock stands splendidly. Just up the road is the monstrous Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Christ is said to have been crucified. The whole city has been razed to the ground and completely rebuilt no less than seven times in its existence. Israel is an amazing place to and visit, to me it was also one of the most welcoming and safest places I have been. However things have degraded considerably since that time, it is not advisable to travel to Israel at the moment.

Bayt Lehem, in the West Bank

Jesus is said to have been born on the very site where this church has been built. The entrance is very small, (just in the shade) designed such that you must stoop in the prescence of the Lord. There is a small, highly decorated area in underneath the main church where the manger lay. This is where the siege in early 2002 was held, with only one entrance the Church is a perfect place for such an event.

The Via Dolorosa is the road up which Jesus carried the cross to the place where he was crucified. There is a place marked on the wall of a house where he placed his hand to lean under the weight of the cross. Every part of the old city is steeped with history. During the Christian Crusades in the year 1099 a monk recorded how the Via Dolorosa ran "ankle deep with blood" of the 70,000 muslims slaughtered that day. I cannot think of anything more awful.

Jerusalem's main street

The Wailing Wall

This is the Wailing Wall, part of the centre of Judaisim. It is segregated, and tourists are allowed to go up and touch the wall. In between the stones are pieces of paper where the prayers of the worshippers are written.

Here is one of the centres of the Islamic faith, the Dome Of The Rock. Built within the walls of the old temple of Solomon, (part of the centre of Judaisim - the Wailing Wall) and allegedly on the site where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac. It is also claimed that there are marks on the the Rock within the Dome which are left from the time when the Ark of the Covenant sat there. An amazing mixture of stories and religion all in such a small space.

The Dome Of The Rock

The Old City of Jerusalem

This is a view over part of the old city, from Damascus Gate towards Temple Mount. This was taken from on top of one of the walls on a walking tour. Note the soldiers watching over the people as they enter and leave the city. The Dome of the Rock can be seen in the distance.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2001