Pinsteps. Archaeological Park: The Dome of the Rock and the Foundation Stone of Jerusalem
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The Dome of the Rock, a significant and recognizable octagonal Muslim structure perched atop the Temple Mount platform, profoundly symbolizes Jerusalem's rich religious history. The golden dome shelters an influential rock that has sparked fascination and reverence across different faiths for centuries.

In Jewish tradition, this rock is known as the "Foundation Stone" - believed to be the starting point of creation, the axis mundi or the world's navel. The rock carries significant religious implications as it's considered to mark the exact location of the Holy of Holies within Solomon's Temple and, subsequently, the Second Temple. Despite the destruction of the Temple, the memory of this sacred stone endured, and a wealth of traditions grew from it, cementing its place in Jewish cultural and religious memory.

After capturing Jerusalem and restoring the ruined Temple Mount, Muslims constructed an octagonal, grand stone edifice over the Foundation Stone. The design and details of this structure, which came to be known as the Dome of the Rock, commemorate the sanctity of the rock. According to Islamic belief, the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from this spot, adding another layer to its spiritual significance.

The Crusaders, who saw the rock as sacred, constructed an altar atop it embellished with a pair of candelabras. Today, although the actual Foundation Stone cannot be viewed, visitors to the archaeological park can appreciate representations and echoes of its history and significance.

The Foundation Stone, echoing back to the days of Genesis, symbolizes the intersection between heaven and earth, and the connection between humankind and their God, from the perspective of believers. This compelling history and holy confluence make the Foundation Stone and its symbol, the Dome of the Rock, a captivating part of Jerusalem's archaeological and spiritual landscape.

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Evgeny Praisman
Jewish Quarter and The Davidson Archaeological Park, Jerusalem

The Jewish Quarter and The Davidson Archaeological Park in Jerusalem offer a remarkable and profoundly engaging journey into the city's past and vibrant present.

As soon as you enter the Jewish Quarter, located in the southeastern sector of the walled city, you are immediately met with a fusion of ancient history and living culture. The area is teeming with synagogues, schools, and archaeological treasures that attract scholars, tourists, and religious pilgrims worldwide.

The narrow, winding, stone-paved streets are filled with shops selling religious artefacts, artwork, jewellery, and traditional Jewish foods. Historic sites like the Hurva Synagogue, an architectural marvel restored to its former grandeur, and the Four Sephardic Synagogues, each with its unique history and style, are crucial stops.

Just a short walk away, The Davidson Archaeological Park, also known as the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, reveals the city's history layer by layer. Overlooking the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the park displays remnants from the First and Second Temple periods.

One of the standout features of the park is the Southern Wall excavation site. Here, you can see the steps pilgrims used to climb to reach the Temple Mount and the Hulda Gates, once the main entrance to the Temple compound.

Robinson's Arch, the ruins of an impressive ancient staircase that once led to the Temple Mount, is another must-see in the park. You can also explore the Umayyad palaces, evidence of the rich Islamic history of Jerusalem.

The Davidson Center, located within the park, houses a museum where you can learn more about the Temple Mount's history through interactive exhibits and 3D virtual reconstruction models. A film shown at regular intervals helps visitors understand the significance of the Temple Mount in both Jewish and Muslim traditions.

In addition to its historical and archaeological significance, the park also offers breathtaking views of the Old City and the Mount of Olives, making it a popular spot for contemplation and reflection.

This unique combination of rich history, spiritual significance, and vibrant, ongoing culture makes visiting the Jewish Quarter and The Davidson Archaeological Park a genuinely immersive and unforgettable experience.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
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