The trip takes us from the Jaffa Gate through the Christian Quarter to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. After that, we will visit Golgotha, the stone of anointing, burial, and resurrection, St. Helena Chapel - the site where the Holy cross was found. Further, the route passes through Muristan to the Jewish Quarter, Kardo Street, excavations of the walls of Jerusalem from the time of Jesus, the mosaic of Madaba, the Hurva Synagogue, the Menorah, the panorama of the Olive and Temple Mountains, the Wailing Wall. Finally, we return to the Jaffa Gate through the Muslim Quarter, the monuments of the Mamluk architecture, and the street of David.
Usually, the pedestrian trips in the Old City of Jerusalem start from the Jaffa Gate. On the right of the gate, you can see the citadel with the pointed spire of the minaret - this is the Tower of David but has no connection to King David. Yes, many things are named after this prominent biblical king with no reference to him. The quarter with tiled roofs and the mill in the opposite hill is the Mishkenot Shaananim quarter - the first quarter of Jerusalem, built in the second half of the 19th century out of the city walls. Moses Montefiore - Lord of His Majesty Queen Victoria, donated its development and construction. On the top of the hill, you can see the massive building standing alone. The Hotel David is a masterpiece of English colonial architecture, the city's decoration since the English government. The border between western and eastern Jerusalem passed along the Hebron Road beneath us until 1967.
The Jaffa Gate is so named because the road from the city of Jaffa came here. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built the Jaffa Gate together with the walls of modern Jerusalem in the 16th century. He was most famous of all the sultans of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. But, unfortunately, he died of dysentery in 1566 during the siege of the Szigetvár fortress in Hungary. He was buried in a mausoleum in Istanbul next to his beloved wife, the legendary Roksolana.
Tradition says that the Sultan's prophetic dream caused the construction of the fortress walls around Jerusalem. Sultan dreamed lions were chasing him, and there was nowhere to hide. One of the courtiers interpreted this dream as the need to create a shelter. Since the lion is the oldest symbol of Jerusalem, Sultan decided to construct the fortress walls around the eternal city. In 1898, to the right of the Jaffa Gate, Turks chose to create a wide entrance to the town on the eve of the visit of German Kaiser Wilhelm II in Jerusalem. And almost 20 years later, in 1918, English General Allenby entered the city during a magnificent ceremony opening the era of English rule. Immediately inside the gate, a staircase rises to the left. Do not miss a municipal toilet after one staircase.
Look at the fence. Behind bars are two graves belonging to the builders of the walls and gates of modern Jerusalem. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent ordered them to execute after they made a big mistake. The legend says that Suleiman wanted the city walls to pass in the same place where the walls of Jerusalem passed at the time of great kings: David and Solomon. However, the walls of the enormous Byzantine church erroneously were recognized as the city's southern wall. As a result, almost the entire city of David and Solomon's town remained behind the modern Jerusalem. So the builders were executed and buried at the Jaffa Gate for edification and silent rebuke to future unlucky construction contractors.
The Imperial Hotel, initially called the Grand New Hotel, was built at the end of the 19th century on the square Umar ibn al Khattab - the Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem. It was a grand hotel, where rich and distinguished people stayed, and it was the first hotel in the city, with running water and electric lighting. However, this was not always the case. Water supply began only six years after construction and supplied electricity only in 1911. Moreover, the hotel was empty of guests for the first three years. For such a luxury - there was no demand. Only after a visit to the hotel of German Kaiser Wilhelm II, fame and recognition came to the hotel. That's what celebrities can do.
In the courtyard, there is a small restaurant Bathsheba, where you can have a good time. Photos of the city are hung along the walls. Some mythological photographer took them at the end of the 19th century. He had a studio in one of the rooms of the hotel complex. Tradition says that at the ceremony of handing over the city's keys from the mufti of Jerusalem to the English soldiers in 1918, this photographer was present and captured the event. However, General Allenby, offended that the city was handed over to some soldiers instead of his honor, withdrew negatives, appointed a magnificent parade, and no one else talked about the soldiers. In the middle of the courtyard stands a fragment of an ancient column with an inscription on it. Constructors of the hotel found the pillar and were surprised to discover that the description mentions the tenth Roman legion, which destroyed the city and the temple of Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago.
We are in the Christian quarter of the city. There are four quarters in Jerusalem. In addition to the Christian, there are Muslim, Jewish, and Armenian quarters. The street of St. George is the historical path from Jaffa Gate to the Church of Holy Sepulcher. Various patriarchies appeared along this route. It is customary to begin at this street the processions that go to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for service.
One of the most ancient Christian denominations in Jerusalem is the Coptic. It flourished during the reign of Mamluk - about 700 years ago and during the power of the Turkish Sultan Mohammed Ali in 1830. Since that time, they began to own the surrounding buildings, and in one of them, there still exists a "tattoo" business of the Razuk family. Vasim Razuk - a modern specialist, claims to be the 27th generation tattoo artist. His family has been keeping traditions, making a small cross tattoo on the wrists since the 13th century. Many pilgrims used this cross as an "entrance ticket," including safe access to holy places.
Continuing the journey through the Christian Quarter, we again meet with the churches of Coptic orthodoxy. This church is St. George church. The name "Copts" comes from the distorted Greek Aegipstos (Egypt). This Christian denomination dates back to the first century and St. Mark, who founded the first Christian community in Egypt.
Passing the old city's narrow streets, we continue to discover hidden gems of the Christian quarter. These places belong to the Copts, and even the street is named after the Copts. There is one of the ancient bakeries here. The smell of fresh dought fills all the space in the morning and leaves no chance to keep from trying the tastiest bread.
Here is the monastery of St. Melania, the Elder. She lived in the 4th century and came from one of the wealthiest Roman clans. Tragically losing children and a husband, she imbued with the Christian faith and ended up in Egypt and Jerusalem. She lived modestly. In a small cave, she prayed, holding heavy chains in her hands. It is claimed that an underground passage connected its cave with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Now in the monastery, there is a room - Melanie Cave and its prayer chains.
The Christian street is the one to the main streets of the Old Town. In the 3rd century AD, the new city wall surrounded the Cristian suburbs of Jerusalem. Probably at the same time, the main street was paved and named Christian street. The big old stones of pavement are still visible. Along this street and most of the city's main streets, the famous shops and rows of the city bazaars are located.
A small side street of St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, who proclaimed Christianity the state religion of the Byzantine Empire, leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
In front of us, in the heart of the Christian quarter, rises one of the city's most important mosques - the Omar Mosque. We are talking about the same Omar Ibn al-Khattab, the square at the Jaffa Gate is named. With his arrival in Jerusalem in 639, the era of Islam began. The most common and biggest mistake is to associate the Omar Mosque with the Dome of the Rock Mosque on the Temple Mount. The Omar Mosque is located in this place and not on the Temple Mount. There is a reason for this. Sopronius - the patriarch of Jerusalem during Omar's conquest of the city, asked not to destroy the city. He surrendered to the Muslims after a four-month siege. Omar, the Muslim caliph, was invited by Sopronius to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Omar accepted the patriarch's invitation but preferred not to perform any religious worship in the church. Instead, he ordered the construction of a mosque for Muslims to pray in, but the mosque's spire, as is customary in Muslim-controlled mixed cities, was built higher than the bell tower of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Thus, right in the center of the Christian Quarter, there is a mosque of the Third Islamic Caliph.
The square in front of us is part of the complex of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Crusaders rebuilt the church in the 13th century, and it has survived almost unchanged till today. To the right of the entrance stands a solitary chapel covered with fragments of marble slabs. The chapel is the place where roman soldiers stripped Jesus of his garments before his crucifixion. The entrance gate to the church is below two pointed arches on the left, which close with wooden doors. On the second floor above the arches is a wooden ladder - a symbol of the status quo, preserved by the six Christian denominations leading the prayers in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. To the left of the wooden doors is the bell tower. It was higher during the Crusaders. Fire destroyed Its third floor. Then, in the 19th century, Samgin's factories from Moscow presented new bells.
The upper part of the bell tower that collapsed in the Middle Ages damaged the marble columns at the entrance to the church. To the left of the door, you see a crack in the marble column. Tradition tells of the sacred fire phenomenon erupting from the fissure. It is a Shabbat ceremony of light in which the holy fire is burning in the church before Easter. According to the accepted status quo among the Eastern denominations of the Christians, the Greek Orthodox Church conducts the ceremony. The holy burning fire out of the column took its origin from the violation of the status quo. The quarrels surrounding the ceremony take place between the Greek and Armenian churches. By the way, the famous ladder outside, which stands on a cornice belonging to the Greek Church, and rests on the window sill of the Armenian community, symbolizes better than anything else the strictness of the status quo. The ladder was put in place randomly when determining the status quo between the churches. According to which nothing will change in the church, including the random placement of the ladder.
Just beyond the entrance doors on the right, the staircase ascends to the Golgotha. Locked windows can be seen in the wooden doors. They allow monks to hand over the church's keys to the Muslim family, who hold the right to keep the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is according to the decision of Saladin, who conquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187. The doors are locked every evening. The keys are given to the family of the church keepers. Every morning the keys are handed over to the church monks, and doors reopen.
Once, alone, rock stood in this place, not far from the walls of Jerusalem. It was named Golgotha - from the word skull. The origin of the name is unknown. Some believe that in its shape, the rock was similar to a skull. And some believe that the skull of the first man rested beneath it. On this rock stood the cross on which Jesus died in agony. In the New Testament in the Gospel of Matthew, the events are described as follows: and having reached a place called Golgotha, which means: the place of execution, they let him drink vinegar mixed with bile; And after tasting, he did not want to drink. Those who crucified him divided his clothes by a lot; And while sitting, they would watch him; And they set up over his head an inscription indicating his guilt: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Then two robbers were crucified with him: one on the right and the other on the left. Take a good look at the cross. Above the head of Jesus can be seen a plaque with the initial letters of four words written on it: Jesus from Nazareth, King of the Jews. Below the cross is a small altar, and below it is a hole that symbolizes where the cross stood.
According to tradition, on this stone, they placed the body of Jesus after being taken down from the cross. On this stone, the body was washed, perfumed, and wrapped in a shroud. The body was then brought to the burial cave, the entrance to which was closed with a rolling stone. This burial ceremony was typical in Judaism at that time. They have buried the dead in caves, blocking the opening with large rocks to prevent access to wildlife animals. The bodies were not buried in the ground; there was no available land for that purpose. Therefore, it was necessary to use incense, which was smoked in the burial caves, to prevent foul odors. Today, many believers believe that the anointing stone secretes myrrh oil - one of the incenses used in burial. On this stone, it is customary to sanctify various objects.
Most Christian denominations believe that the body of Jesus lay in the cave that was in this place. The crucifixion and burial took place on Friday. It seems that because of the Sabbath entry, they did not have time to prepare the cave properly or had to go back and complete the smoking of the incense and other things related to the layering ceremony. The closest time it was possible to do so was the first day after Shabbat. According to the Gospels, they come and saw an angel saying: "What are you looking for alive among the dead?" Jesus resurrected. Thus Sunday of the week became the holiest day in Christianity. St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, discovered all the sacred sites of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Helena and Constantine built a church with a dome over the cave. Its diameter was similar to the one we see today. Over time, amid various destructions and restorations, the Crusaders erected a small chapel at the cave site known as the Empty Tomb by the Catholics or Kobokalia by the Orthodox.
The various Christian denominations of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher developed different traditions concerning the burial cave. However, everyone unanimously believes that the burial cave is somewhere in the center of the Great Dome Church. The Greek and Armenian churches worship in the building above the cave, while Catholics pray outside the empty cave. Copts has a particular place for worship. It sets on the opposite side of the main entrance of the building above the cave. They used to point at the base stone of the structure, believing it was an original part of a rock where laid the head of Jesus.
This little room at the entrance to the tomb cave is called the Angel Gates. Inside is a small altar lit by a candle. The candle's light is the holy fire lit in the church every year at Easter. The place's nickname "Angel's Gates" stems from the fact that according to tradition here, the people heard the angel's words, "Why are you looking for the living man among the dead?"
In the inner room of the Empty tomb, on the right, is a marble slab symbolizing the place where Jesus' body laid.
(Photo: adriatikus)[en:commons:talk - self-made using a Canon PowerShot A530 camera, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3482274]
There is an organ in the Catholic part of the church. It is easy to see figures of Mary Magdalene and Jesus above the altar. The interior of the church reminiscents how Mary Magdalene meet Jesus at the tomb's garden after his resurrection. The gospel says that Jesus looked like a gardener. Tall wooden doors in front of the altar lead to an inner room used as the Museum of the Catholic presence in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Various symbols are engraved on the massive doors, among them crossed keys. These keys are the symbol of the kingdom of heaven. Catholics believe that Jesus gave it to Peter, who gave it to the pope where Peter was crucified in Rome.
Guy Cassius Longin was a Roman soldier who took part in the crucifixion of Christ. Longin pierced the body of Jesus with a spear between his ribs. This act was an integral part of the crucifixion. The clinical course of death on the cross is associated with pulmonary edema. Perforation of the lungs releases the air, and the agony continues. Tradition has it that after Jesus died, Longin, like other soldiers, was convinced that the Son of God was before him. He refused to testify that the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the burial cave. Longin went out to Cappadocia to preach the Christian religion. According to tradition, Pontius Pilate sent men to capture Longin and other preachers and demanded their heads cut off. When Longin was executed, Pilate received his head and threw it not far from Calvary. A blind woman found her, and the sight miraculously returned to her. Tradition says that these events took place in this place. Therefore, there is a chapel of St. Longin here.
Legend has it that there was a tradition of dividing the clothes of crucified man among the soldiers in the Roman army. However, the garment of Jesus was a uniform cloth; that is, it had no seams. Therefore, the soldiers could not divide the fabric. So they decided to cast lots, which of them would get the clothes of Christ. The chapel is dedicated to this story.
The stairs leading down to St. Helena Church, like the church itself, were built by the Crusaders. Walls along the stairs are dotted with a considerable number of carved crosses, large and small. It is a reminder of the Crusades when tens of thousands of knights and pilgrims visited the holy places and made sure to leave their mark.
St. Helena Church belongs to the Armenian Church. According to one version, the Armenians purchased this place from the Copts. Another sources pints that the site was purchased from the Georgian Church. Either way, the church was built by the Crusaders. There was once a Byzantine church that had nothing left of it after the persecution of Christians by the Arab ruler al-Hakim in the 11th century AD. This act was the official reason for the crusade. According to tradition, the ancient church led to an old reservoir in which St. Helena found the remains of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
Look at the surrounding rock rising above the head. It is easy to spot that we are inside an artificial cave created due to stone quarrying. Jerusalem was built of stone. Often, the stone was hewn right in the city area, and the spaces created were used to store rainwater. If you look up the ceiling, you can see that it is arched with dressed stones with several windows in between. The top of the reservoir has openings for buckets that were dropped down with ropes to carry water. Tradition says that here they discovered the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Like many other objects associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cross carried miraculous virtues. The cross was called the giver of life. The Crusaders held the cross with them in the battle against Saladin in Karni Hittin. The Crusaders lost this battle and lost the Holy Land. The cross was lost forever.
In the square in front of the church, there are some interesting sites. One of them is where, according to legend, traces of one woman named Miriam are imprinted. She lived in Egypt in the fifth century. When she heard that the people were going to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication of the cross in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, she went with them. But not to pray, but to engage in prostitution. Suddenly, she stopped at this place and could not continue to the church. She did not move beyond where her feet were sunk. Then faith was revealed to Miriam. She repented and went to a desert where she spent the last years of her life vowing humbly and faithfully.
The Protestant Church of the Holy Savior was built in the late 19th century. Its inauguration was dedicated to the visit of the German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1898. During construction and later during the renovation, the ancient walls of Jerusalem were discovered on the site. These discoverings indicate that the crucifixion of Christ and Calvary was then outside the city walls. Today the church is used by the Protestant communities of the Old City. There are an archeological museum and an observation deck of the bell tower In the church. From the top of the building, there is a beautiful view of the old city and its surroundings. There is an entrance fee to the observation deck. It was clear to the European rulers of the late 19th century that the territories of the Old City were of great value, and great competition had begun between the Russians and the Germans for this plot of land. Russians purchased land nearby and discovered the remains of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher from the Byzantine period.
In the Middle Ages, the halls of the Order of Hospitallers stood at this place. The name of the order is derived from a Latin word meaning to give shelter. Its purpose was to welcome the pilgrims and provide them with help and protection. The patron saint of the order is John the Baptist. Hence another name of the order is the order of St. John. After the expulsion of the Crusaders from the Holy Land, the Knights settled in Rhodes and then migrated to Malta. With them came the emblem of the Order - the Red Cross on a white background. This symbol is known by its current name: the Maltese cross. In the middle of the 19th century in Jerusalem, there was an attempt to revive the Order of the Knights. It took place at the initiative of Queen Victoria of England. As a result, the Order of Hospitallers, or the Order of the Reverend St. John, was established on Hebron Road, as the largest ophthalmological clinic in the Middle East, and provided relief and charitable services to the needy. However, in 1948, after the city was divided between Jordan and Israel, the order moved to the Old City, and its activity diminished.
The arched passage leads us to one of the main streets of the old city. Today it is called King David Street. The Christian Quarter ends here. The tradition of turning the main traffic lengths of the city into shopping centers was common in the ancient world. Still, the phenomenon gained significant momentum during the days of Muslim rule. Before the Muslim period, the streets were much broader. With the advent of a new culture, rows of stalls divided the wide road into many alleys, which created narrow parallel paths closed by arched vaults. This prominent street appearance has been preserved to this day and gives the city its unique colorfulness.
The intersection of King David Street and Cardo Street is bustling and hidden within the vaults of the commercial arteries. Cardo Street was paved during Roman rule and was the heart of Byzantine Jerusalem. It is vital not to miss this narrow turn. As a landmark can be used a small sign with the caption: Cardo. It hangs pretty high, almost below the arch edge of the vault.
At the entrance to the Jewish Quarter, you will feel a sharp change. It was a part of the city where the Jews had always lived, no matter who ruled Jerusalem. After the Romans destroyed the Temple and suppressing the Bar Kochba revolt, they forbade the Jews to live in Jerusalem and forbade the observance of mitzvot and customs. Emperor Adrian even turned Jerusalem into a Roman city and named it Ilya Capitoline. But for 2,000 years, the Jews continued to live in Jerusalem stubbornly, surviving conquests and crusades, praying in synagogues, and hoping with complete faith for the revival of Jerusalem and Zion.
The War of Independence ended in 1949 while the Kingdom of Jordan concentrated the complete control of the Old City. As a result, the Jewish Quarter ceased to exist. Unusually, for almost 2,000 years of Jerusalem's history, Jews have lost access to the Western Wall. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, Jerusalem returned to its Jewish people, and the entire city became the capital of the State of Israel. In the years between the War of Independence and the Six-Day War, the Jewish Quarter was almost destroyed. The long slow destruction of the abandoned Jewish Quarter helped to conclude to eliminate debris and perform excavations before the reconstruction of the quarter. In general, this was the only opportunity to conduct excavations in a living town. Thus, archaeologists discovered Jerusalem's buildings, walls, and towers from the Second Temple time. We see here in the pit the fortress wall of the town from the days of King Herod. Layers of the later periods lay above it. The base of the pillar belongs to the Roman period, and the water reservoir was hewn later.
This small and picturesque street with its cozy shops with Judaica and souvenirs is a commercial extension of one of the arched bazaars built by the Muslims. The Byzantine street before was also a shopping street and inherited this designation from the Roman street. Roman streets constructed in the same way in different towns and villages of the Roman Empire were named according to their orientation and purpose. Thus, this street was called Cardo. Cardo comes from the word cardinus - axis in Latin. Cardo streets, usually wide streets of trade and primary transportation, intersected at right angles with small streets called Decumanus. With the intensification of employment in the Muslim period, a street as wide as Cardo was divided into parallel commercial rows by high vaults. We are now in one of them.
After the Six-Day War, the Jewish Quarter was excavated, thoroughly investigated, and restored. Archaeological excavations have made it possible to understand the appearance of the city in ancient times. The restored old Cardo Street will be revealed here before our eyes. Pillars supporting wooden beams and stone arches are the authentic remains of the ancient cardo structures. The painting on the wall allows you to look at the imaginary continuation of the street, which continues north. The painting depicts people. We can identify their origin and craft according to their attire. For example, on the left is painted Roman in a blue toga. We can rest assured that he is Roman on the basis that he has no beard. Shaving is a Roman tradition. In the center of the street, a Jewish man is seen riding a donkey, coming from the north, probably from Galilee. He has a big beard. He brings goods, including pomegranates and olive oil. In the foreground is a Jewish pilgrim with two daughters, one in a Greek-Roman costume and another in a traditional Jewish dress. One of the girls holds out her hand with an apple to a boy, dressed in modern clothes, with a backpack and a baseball cap. In this scene, the artist expressed the continuity of the generations. A Jewish girl, wearing Roman clothes, actually an assimilated girl, is the one who hands over the boy an apple - a symbol of the integrity of the Jewish people.
Not only the excavations of Jerusalem but also other archeological finds make it possible to restore the appearance of the Old City. For example, we can see a piece of mosaic found in the city of Madaba in Jordan. In the upper left corner is written in Greek: Agiapolis Jerusalem. This mosaic is a painting of the holy city of Jerusalem as made on the mosaic floor of the monastery dining room from the 5th century AD. In the center of the town, there is an axis with red-tiled roofs on both sides. West of this axis, one can identify a staircase that leads to the church with a tiled roof and the dome of the great church of the Holy Sepulcher. Two main arteries cross the city from left to right. These are the two Cardo streets - one at the upper town and the other at the lower.
This part of the cardo is open. Here we can be well impressed by the rise of the layers of the city's life for 15 centuries. But it would be a mistake to think that we are facing a stratification of layers of waste. Usually, major devastation or earthquake are the ones that cause a significant increase in the stratum of the city. It is easier to fill the ruins with soil and build over than to invest in demolishing and clearing rubble.
Until 1948, the synagogue of the Ashkenazi community with the strange name "Ruin" was the most significant and crucial in Old Jerusalem. They began to build the synagogue in the 18th century, but construction stopped, perhaps due to the non-payment of debts. As a result, the synagogue stood in ruins until the mid-19th century. This long period of uncompleted construction attached the name "ruin" to the building. Unfortunately, the synagogue stood in its glory for only a few decades until the Jordanian army destroyed it in 1949. Only in 2010, after a long restoration, the synagogue reopened its doors. The synagogue tours are fascinating and make it possible to ascend the balcony of its dome. From there you have great views of the old city and its surroundings.
The Quarter Square is the heart of the Jewish Quarter. The Menorah - a seven-branched lamp - can be seen in the center of the square. This lamp was first placed on the staircase leading down to the Western Wall. A few years later, its location was moved to the Quarter Square near the "Ruin" synagogue. There are several versions and traditions about how the Menorah looked like. The Menorah is depicted on the triumphal arch of Emperor Titus in Rome. Titus suppressed the Jewish revolt and destroyed the Temple. These events are known in the history of the ancient world as the Jewish War. The spoils brought to Rome and displayed in the Roman Forum included the temple lamp - the Menorah. Menorah is the oldest symbol of the Jewish people. Every day another candle was lit in it from Sunday to Saturday. On Friday evening, all seven candles were lit. Thus the light of the Menorah symbolized the periodicity of life - the weekly cycle. Another image, different from the Roman image, was discovered in the excavations of the Herodian Quarter. It can be seen today at the Israel Museum. A copy is on display at the Quarter Excavation Museum not far from here on Karaim Street. The replica of Menorah in front of us is the work of an artist and jeweler, Haim Oded, who was born in Berdychiv and grew up in Tbilisi.
In front of us is a view of the southern part of the Temple Mount. Below us are the stairs that descend from Mount Zion to the Western Wall plaza. Once in the wadi between Mount Zion and the Temple Mount, Cardo Street of the lower city passed. In Roman times the wadi was called Tarofion - a place where made cheeses. A wall before the Babylonian exile surrounded Mount Zion, on which the upper town was located. The city's topography has not changed, and as before, to reach the Temple Mount, we must descend Mount Zion.
Let’s learn what to see from this exciting observing point. On the left side of the high wall, a retaining wall of the Temple Mount, a mountain with thousands of tombstones protrudes. This mount is the Mount of Olives with the ancient and great cemetery of Jerusalem. This mountain separates the city from the Judean Desert. From there, according to tradition, the Messiah will come to the town. And when the Messiah comes, everyone will be resurrected and will stand before Him to be judged. It follows, therefore, that the first will be those buried on the Mount of Olives. We are joking. The truth is a practice in the perspective of times. The Mount of Olives has always been essential. Evidence of a tradition of burying the dead on the mountain is almost 3000 years old, and this custom is still in force.
As you enter the Western Wall plaza, you will notice a low wall with a caption in three languages that briefly tells the story of the Western Wall. In a prominent place, it is written: Ask peace to Jerusalem.
The Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall, is a small section of one of the four retaining walls of the Temple Mount. The walls were part of a vast complex. The construction began during the reign of King Herod the Great lasted over 70 years and was never completed. On the Temple Mount, which rises above the retaining walls, stood the First and Second Temples. Judaism as a worldview does not sanctify a place. The whole universe is the temple of the Lord. However, the Temple in Jerusalem was the only place in Judaism where the worship of God took place. The Temple Mount was the spiritual center of the Jewish people. A place of purity and observance of mitzvos. King Solomon built the First Temple of Jerusalem in the 10th century BC. 49 years after the destruction of the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile and built the Second Temple. It was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans.
Approximately 80 years before the destruction of the Temple by Roman troops under the command of the future emperor of the Roman Empire - Titus, King Herod the Great erected retaining walls around the temple mountain, expanding and leveling the area around the Temple and creating an architectural complex of unprecedented scale and beauty. These walls stand before us to this day. The section of the western wall has been a place of prayer since the 2nd century AD. and continues to be so to this day. Translated with Google Translate
Women and men approach the Western Wall separately in the men's section and the women's section. The custom of separation in this place is relatively young. It is known that as early as the end of the 19th century, separation did not exist. Some say that separation is intended to preserve the uniqueness of the place, its purity and to prevent unnecessary sexual attraction in a holy place. Some say that the separation is artificial and intended to impose halakhic coercion. One way or another, in recent years, there has been a section of Israel people. The unit allows a mixed approach of both sexes and is located south of the Western Wall next to the Davidson complex. The first and second temples were destroyed on Tisha B'Av. This is the day of mourning and fasting. It is customary to mourn near the Western Wall. Perhaps this tradition has led to the Western Wall being called the "Wall of Mourning" or "the wailing wall" in many European languages.
The tradition of leaving notes in the spaces between the Western Wall stones is related to the Jewish sage Rabbi Chaim Ben-Atar, who instructed his students to do so. It is said that the act of writing the note shapes a person’s faith and hopes. It helps him to realize his goodness and gain the grace of God through opening his heart to a shared prayer of faith and love that can work wonders.
Millions of people from all over the world come to Jerusalem every year to see the Western Wall and write a note or ask God for health, well-being, and prosperity.
The stairs lead to the main street of Jerusalem, which crosses the Old City from the Temple Mount to the Jaffa Gate. This street runs along with the ancient features of the city walls in the days of King Herod the Great.
Up the street is the exit to the Jaffa Gate. Down the road is the entrance to the Temple Mount. In the days of the greatness of Jerusalem, this place was a bridge that connected the upper city on Mount Zion and the Temple Mount. We are in the Muslim quarter of the town. And right in front of us is a beautiful piece of Mamluk architecture - it is an ornament of a niche in the shape of stalactites. By and large, getting to know Jerusalem's most important sites is coming to an end. We traversed a short but treasured path, and Jerusalem only opened up its secrets to us a little. There are more routes around, and they will be able to show you more. In the meantime, let's go to the Jaffa Gate.