To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)
Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture
Israel IV: Caesarea and Haifa
Israel V: Acre (Akko)
Israel VI: The Sea of Galilee
Israel VII: Golan Heights
Israel VIII: Nazareth
Israel IX: Masada and the Dead Sea
Israel X: Old City Jerusalem at Night
The last time I left off, I arrived back from my day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea to explore Old City Jerusalem as the sun was setting. After a super fun night of exploration, we were up early the next morning to meet our tour guide for a full day seeing the Old City and learning the history with our guide. My Uncle’s colleague recommended a private tour guide named Reuven Zusman who gives us a full day walking tour throughout the Old City. Giving tours is a very serious business over there, as you can see many guides teaching groups all over Israel. In fact Reuven said there are required classes and hours of study to maintain his status as tour guide. Reuven really knows his history. If you’re taking a trip and want Reuven as a guide, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you his info.
Here’s the map of Old Jerusalem again, as a refresher. And another map showing some of the Old City highlights.
We began by entering through the Zion Gate along the south wall.
That’s my uncle in blue, and our guide Reuvan as we started our day by heading to the place that normally has the longest line, Dome of the Rock, to hopefully avoid the long lines.
On our walk we had a great view of Mount of Olives. This is much easier to see in the daylight, verse my walk last night.
We walked through the Jewish Quarter to get to the Dome. We had a great day for photos, as the weather was perfect.
We lucked out and the line to get in was small, so we decided to check that off the list. Security to get onto these grounds is no joke, and it’s also why the lines take so long. They search belongings, make you walk through metal detecters and were a bit fussy if you went to fast through all the steps. They mean business, and with good reason as this is a very important site for Muslims, Jews, and Christians and could easily be a target because of it’s importance.
It’s such a beautiful building.
Since we were there early, I was able to take people-less photos.
After leaving the Dome we walked through the Muslim Quarter and grabbed a fast yummy lunch at Basti Restaurant at our guides suggestion.
I just love all these paths and walkways. I had so much fun imagining that in BC time this was their version of roads. This was their big city. I could spend weeks getting lost in the sights, smells, and sounds of these walkways.
I really love it. Most of the photos I brought back from the trip are of these walkways.
Our guide took us up a public (although it looks semi private) staircase that put us above the markets. The spot where we are standing is above where the four quarters meet.
It felt like we were in Aladdin, hoping from rooftop to rooftop.
The photo above has a cat which reminds me, there are cats all over Israel. Everywhere. My photos don’t show it, but we saw probably thousands over the two weeks.
We made our way back over to the Western Wall (and Temple Mount entrance. We had a nice upper view from the roof.
Our guide told us about how they were fixing up the ramp to Temple Mount when they uncovered ruins below and are now doing excavation work. This prompted me to ask, “Since all of what’s below us dates back so far, isn’t everything below us worthy of being excavated? I mean it shouldn’t be a shocker that when they dug down 10 feet that hit important ruins, since the city has been rebuilt over it’s self so many times.” Our tour guide brought up a very important point, that Israel has had many different owners in it’s lifetime, and each had a different political and religious agenda. Depending on who’s controlling Israel determines what get’s excavated. For example, why would a government of one religion want to dig up ruins that might prove that a different religion might have more ties the land? Something to think about…
This is one of the old walls to the city at one point in time (in the Jewish Quarter). The history dates back so far, that I’m sure there have been many outer walls over that time.
I like this photo above because it shows you the old wall down below, and many layers above it is a modern building. You have to imagine there have been many layers like this over this lands existance. Since America is so new, it’s hard to imagine this city, on city, on city development.
Here is one of many areas where you can see how the layers of this city are built up.
We decided to do the tunnel tour, which takes you along the buried part of the Western Wall. This was an interesting tour, yet not what I expected. I must admit it got very tight under there as we walked though the tunnels. My uncle had to duck his head the whole time, and at most times it was only a body width wide. I got pretty frieghtened midway through and then was eager to finish the tour. We did get a full history of the wall and what it would have been like back in BC times. I should note that the photo above was in a big room where the tour started, not in the tunnel itself.
They are doing lots of excavation work along the wall (it’s of great Jewish significance, and the government is of that religious affiliation).
Here’s where the ceiling is tall, but see how narrow the walkway is?? Coming from LA where earthquakes are so common, I was fearful and kept thinking “what do I do if it all starts shaking- Im trapped!”
Next up, I’ll share with you the second half of the day with our tour guide where we walk the stations of the cross and then we go back into the City at night to see the celebration of the first night of Hanukkah! What a great time to be in the Old City!