In our trip to the Holy Land, we walked inside Old Jerusalem. It is a walled city that roughly covers one square kilometer within the modern city of Jerusalem. It’s a place that has been, and still is, the center of constant clash of powers throughout history.
The city of Jerusalem have been surrounded by walls for its defense since ancient times. These walls have been destroyed several times but also have been rebuilt through the ages depending on whose occupying the city.
Since Biblical times, the walls of Jerusalem have been well-known. Photo below is the tower of David, old Jerusalem’s citadel, located on the western side of the walled city.
Most of the walls that exist today is from the Ottoman Empire of the 16th century, when Sultan Suleiman decided to fully rebuild the walls.
Entrance through the walled city is through several gates. Currently there are eight open gates to the city. The ninth gate, the Golden Gate, is blocked and closed, as according to tradition, is awaiting for the arrival of the Messiah.
Below is one of the gates leading to the old city. I believe this one is called the New Gate.
We entered the city through the Jaffa gate and began our walk inside the old city.
Perhaps the most known part of Jerusalem’s wall is the Western Wall, or also known as the Wailing Wall. This is considered sacred by the Jews, believed to be the only remnant of the wall that was part of the Second Jewish Temple, rebuilt and renovated by King Herod the Great, and was destroyed by the Romans. (The first temple was built by King Solomon and was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.E.)
The Wailing Wall has been the site for pilgrimages and a place to pray for the Jews, where it is believed that one has immediately has the “ear of God.” Below is part of the Wailing Wall.
Walking through the narrow streets and alleys inside the old city gives you a feeling that you’re walking through the pages of history.
Most of these small streets are only passable by walking.
Though there are very narrow alleys that cars can drive through.
There is also a part of our walk that we went through market-like alleys. As a Filipino, I feel like I was in Divisoria or Tutuban in the Philippines.
There is food, spices, jewelry, and other merchandises as you can imagine.
There is even this Holy Rock Café. Only in Jerusalem.
But perhaps the most visited locations in Old Jerusalem are the churches and religious sites.
A famous path for pilgrims and visitors is the path known as Via Dolorosa, or Way of Suffering. It is also called the Way of the Cross. This path is believed to be the path that Jesus took from Pontius Pilate’s court, to Calvary, and finally to his tomb.
On this Way of the Cross are 14 stations where significant events were believed to have happened. However, many of these locations were based on traditions only, rather than hard facts or archeological findings.
Above photo is station V, where Simon of Cyrene was compelled by the Roman soldiers to carry the cross of Jesus. Below are other stations we passed through.
We also passed this church, the Holy Sepulchre Church, which by tradition is the site that encompass both Calvary where Jesus was crucified and the tomb where he was buried.
As expected it was packed, and there was a long line of people waiting to enter this church.
It will be unfair and I will not give the real picture of Jerusalem if I only mention the famous sites for Jews and Christians. In fact, if you view Jerusalem from afar (see the very first photo), the most conspicuous structure is the golden dome, known as the Dome of the Rock. This is a Muslim shrine believed to be the site where Muhammad ascended to heaven.
Below is the Mosque of Omar, which is adjacent to the Church of Holy Sepulchre.
Definitely Old Jerusalem is a place that provides a passageway to the storied past. It is also a crossroad of the past, present, and perhaps even of the future.
It was quite an experience for me walking through Old Jerusalem, adding my footprints in the thoroughfare of time.
(*all photos taken with an iPhone)