Jerusalem is an ancient city dating back to 2400 BCE. The city is holy to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Everywhere you go, especially in the Old City, evidence of past and current struggles between the religions is evident. Walls, razor wire, guns, cameras, checkpoints. Even within the religions there lies disagreement. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is fought over by various Christian sects – each room is claimed by different denomination!
The Old City is strictly divided into religious quarters. We entered through the Dung Gate and were immediately swept up a parade of Bar Mitzvah parties heading towards the Western Wall. Jewish families sang, danced, played music, released balloons and threw candy on their way to read from the Torah at what remains of the Holy Temple.
We climbed to the rooftop of the Austrian Hospice in the Muslim quarter and gazed out over the city. The golden Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine built in 691 CE, stands on the Temple Mount and is one of the most recognizable features of the city. It is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture but due to religious sensitivity access is severely restricted. Perhaps that represents my whole impression of Jerusalem: a beautiful city with extensive and fascinating history, but tinged with old grudges and modern unrest.
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