5.24.2007

Life in the Old City

If you have never been to Israel, you might not know what I mean by saying the "Old City." Let me explain. Jerusalem is divided into two parts: the Old City and the New City. The Old City consists of everything within the city walls which we built, destroyed and rebuilt by Moslems and Crusaders in the 1200's. The New City is the modern city of Jerusalem which is outside of these walls.

While we have traveled all over the country of Israel, we have spent the most time in Jerusalem due to the significance of this place in both the Old and New Testaments. Walking through the streets of the Old City you can experience everything from outdoor meat markets, to ancient churches, to ice cream stands, to arab bartering in the shops. We are currently staying at the Gloria hotel which is a cultural experience in itself. We are inside the wall of Jaffa Gate which is one of the busiest gates in all of the Old City. We have enjoyed hearing all sorts of activity especially since yesterday was the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost in Greek). This festival celebrates the giving of the law to Moses and thousands of pilgrims have flocked through Jaffa Gate to celebrate by the Western Wall.

One other important thing to note about the Old City is the fact that it is divided into four different sections. The sections are not equal in size, but they are all called quarters based on the majority of the people inhabiting a particular area. The quarters are as follows: the Jewish Quarter, the Moslem Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Armeniand Quarter. We have been free to wander through any of these quarters, but the Moslem quarter is much dirtier and it is safer to stay out of this particular area. Everything in the Jewish Quarter has been rebuilt since 1967. We were here on the 40th anniversary of the recapturing of the Old City and witnessed some of the celebrations for what is known as Jerusalem Day.

Here are some pictures of everyday life within the walls of the Old City.


A Mezusah on the wall of Jaffa Gate. This contains the Torah and is a reminder to all who enter of the law.



This is the outside of the Citadel which was a fortress inside Jaffa Gate.



This is our teacher, Dr Varner. He is showing us a map of the Old City while we sit on a roof of a house to get a better idea of where we are at.



One of the many tunnels/arches in the Old City. It doesn't get much better than that!



A picture of me looking over the city from the roof of the Citadel.



This is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This dome covers the traditional spot of Jesus' tomb. While the church is an experience in itself with incense and hundreds of people paying homage - the historical importance of this site is undeniable.



Walking through the Jewish Quarter.



A look at Zion gate on the South Western side of the city. Yes, that really is a car trying to fit through this gate. The clash of ancient and modern is really an impressive thing to see.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the quick lesson on the Old City. We are really enjoying staying within the Old City gates and experiencing all the sounds and smells that are associated with the above pictures. We wake up to the sounds of church bells, cars honking, music blaring, the Moslem call to prayer and people chattering in the streets. If you like cultural experiences - it doesn't get much better than this!

1 comment:

Maw Maw & PaPa & Dillie said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and giving us a sense of what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling there in the old city of Jerusalem. I'm sure it has been a life changing experience. I can't wait to see more pics and the stories to go along with when you get home. Have a safe journey back, love, Your Parents, from somewhere in Oklahoma