Instawalk: Old Jerusalem (and the shattering and rebuilding of understanding)

part of the problem with me not being involved in any trip planning and pretty much just tagging along (which, believe you me, for a solo traveler like myself is a bit strange!) is that i find myself awestruck and often times perplexed by what i’m seeing. or maybe that’s not a bad thing at all, but part of the process of truly discovering a city.

in the case of Jerusalem, i’m having a hard time wrapping my head around several truths, perhaps thanks to only really hearing about one side of the story in Sunday School growing up. for me, it’s always been a biblical setting where isolated events happened — THE END. boy was i wrong. not only is it the largest city in Israel (and not in a time warp stuck millennia ago), but once you do step back into time visiting the walled old city, well, my mind was blown.


Via Dolorosa — one of the first of the famous sites we encountered upon entering Old Jerusalem and when I first realized there more than just Christian history here, but history and everything the history evokes.

Fourth station. Supposedly where Jesus met his mother along the Via Dolorosa.

Fourth station of the cross, supposedly where Jesus met his Mother Mary while on the way to his death. You can see what they say are her sandal impressions in the floor (in the blue circle).

Waiting in line to see Christ's tomb (inside this shrine)

The dome and shrine enclosing Christ’s tomb, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

of course there’s also the famous and old parts:

Someone is wailing quite loudly.

The Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall, and yes I did hear someone wail) of the Temple Mount.


Arches in the Jewish Quarter

i don’t know why, but i didn’t expect such a Middle Eastern souq-like atmosphere, but if you think about it, that’s what Old Jerusalem is. an old town in the Middle East.


Narrow alleyway in the Muslim Quarter

Marketplace entry

Suq Aftimos, Muristan in the Christian Quarter

the biggest shocker for me, though, was the heavy Islamic presence. (*GASP*)

And now it's a clothes rack.

This archway now serves as a clothes rack for a shop.


The Temple Mount is one of the holiest places in Islam (and Judaism, and Christianity). The gold-topped Dome of the Rock sits on the Temple Mount where the Jewish Holy Temple once stood and is one of the oldest Islamic buildings in existence, dating from the year 691.


The Dome of the Chain, next to the Dome of the Rock

i had no idea that the Temple Mount was so highly venerated in Islam and that in terms of external appearances it’s pretty much an Islamic site (stronghold?) in the heart of what in my head was a biblical city. after learning more about the history of the place (i cannot recommend the tour of the Western Wall tunnels enough) i have a deeper understanding (and as such, only barely scratching the surface) of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have a much better appreciation of the enormous significance of this city that is at the crossroads of civilizations and reasons why it’s been, and continues to be, so contested.

Panorama of the Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock and Dome of the Chain. I was fiddling with HDR via Snapseed on my phone. Not bad, eh?

i should also say that as a very (very) lapsed Christian who is now atheist, there was something really awesome about visiting these historic sites, touching the rock¬† Jesus was supposedly crucified on, and hearing people wail and cry at the holiest of places. even with a heart of stone when it comes to religion, there is undeniably something going on here that makes me ponder faith and humanity. i guess that’s the purpose of religious sites, though, so you’ve succeeded, Jerusalem. and you didn’t even have to try.

2 Comments on "Instawalk: Old Jerusalem (and the shattering and rebuilding of understanding)"

  1. The Holy Land is hella interesting. Killer photos too.

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