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.
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.
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
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.
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.