Exploring the Old City of Jerusalem was a very powerful experience for us. Who would’t be moved seeing the major religions of the world – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – peacefully co-existing within the dense confine of this walled city. It made us wonder – why can’t it happen in the world outside this wall?
If only the walls can talk. More than 2,000 years of history is contained within the fortified walls of the old city. Covering a mere 0.9 sq km/0.35 sq mi, the walled city boasts the highest concentration of the world’s most important religious sites .
The Old City is consists of four quarters – the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quater and the Armenian Quarter. History kept unfoflding as we walked from the labyrinth streets of one quarter to the other, and each was as powerful as the last.
THE CHRISTIAN QUARTER
As the Christians all over the world are observing the Lenten season, we are particularly reminded of our profound experience in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. The quarter has more than 40 churches and monasteries, inns for the pilgrims, and a bustling market.
Dotting the route is the 14 Stations of the Cross, the stops Jesus made along along the route. The fifth station on the left marked the place where Simon helped Jesus carry the cross. And the sixth station on the right marked where the spot where Veronica wiped Jesus’ face with her veil.
Via Dolorosa leads to the heart of the Christian Quarter and one of the most important Christian sites in the world – the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site marks the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
A low door leads the tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to contain the tomb of Christ. This is the 14th Station of the Cross, where a marble slab covers the place where the body of Christ was believed to have laid and from where he rose from the dead.
THE ARAB QUARTER
The most important site for the Muslims in the Old City is the Temple Mount, believed to be the site where Mohammed the Prophet descended to heaven. Located in the Temple Mount is the Dome of the Rock. a mosque with magnificent golden dome that dominates the Old City skyline. It is where Abraham was believed to have prepared his son Isaac for sacrifice. It is also an important site for the Jews.
THE JEWISH QUARTER
The Jewish Quarter has ben inhabited since the 8th century BC. It has been destroyed time and again, but today it is a peaceful oasis of synagogues, street cafes and restaurants, smart shops and dwellings.
It was magical to immerse ourselves in the city and to soak in the rich history and witness the powerful faiths that pervades within the wall of the Old City. It was an experience of a lifetime.