Israel

We began our tour of the Old City at the Tower of David, at the Jaffa Gate. The Tower of David, or the Citadel of Jerrusalem, is a fortress built during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods on the site of an earlier fortification. King Hezekiah was the first to build on this area. The Hasmonean kings also built on the area, as did King Herod. The Tower still includes the three original towers built by King Herod.

Jerusalem with Dome of the Rock in center


The Tower was not built by King David, although Byzantine Christians believed so and thus gave it the name. “Tower of David” comes from the Song of Songs, where Solomon wrote: “Thy neck is like the Tower of David built with turrets, whereon there hang a thousand shields, all the armor of the mighty men.” (Song of Songs 4:4).
From the Jaffa Gate we passed into the Old City of Jerusalem. It is still divided into four quarters: the Christian, the Jewish, the Armenian and the Muslim.

Among other things, we took an Undergound Tour of the Western Wall of the Temple. The Wailing Wall (below) is the uppermost part of the Western Wall, which descends all the way down to bedrock. At one point the entire city was raised by placing arches all around the Temple and building on them so that people could have easier access to the Temple (which by that point included the Mulsim Dome of the Rock). So there are extensive tunnels underground.

 

The Wailing Wall

 

Here is a timeline of the Temple: built first by King Solomon, rebuilt by King Herod, destroyed in the Great Revolt of AD 70, which also resulted in the banishment of Jews from Jerusalem. In the 7th century the Mulsims arrived and built the Dome of the Rock on the (former) Temple, to commemorate the place where Muhammed experienced a night vision. The Muslims also allowed the Jews back into Jerusalem and allowed them to build another, smaller temple, this one on the Western Wall, in a direct line with where the Holy of Holies would have been (though now that space is covered by the Dome of the Rock ).

 

The Dome orf the Rock, situated behind the Wailing Wall

At the end of the tour, the guide stated that he needed to know exactly how many people were continuing back through the Muslim Quarter, where the tour surfaced, or how many were returning through the tunnels. He took a headcount and explained that “as a courtesy” two security agents would be joining us. These two men were not mall cops, either; they were fierce-looking. We walked through the Muslim quarter, stopping regularly to do a headcount, and then passed through security to enter the Jewish Quarter, without incident.

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