Where We Be
|Muslim Quarter -- Jerusalem, Israel
|The arched gateways make for fun photo compositions
|This arch frames a view of a church steeple atop the Mount of Olives
|As non-Muslim tourists, we had to get in line at the Western Wall security checkpoint (the one near Dung Gate). We
walked up the curving wooden bridge that climbs towards the top of the Western Wall and leads to the Temple Mount.
|Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam's third holiest site. It marks the spot where many Muslims believe Muhammad
spoke with the prophets then ascended to heaven and back during his Night Journey (~620 AD).
|On display are ornate capitals and carved stonework from earlier structures on the Temple Mount
|When you first arrive, you climb this series of steps and pass beneath the ornamental arch to reach the Temple Mount itself
|Here's a look from even further away as you make your approach
|Mmm! Falafels, hummus, baba ganoush, and iced lemonade with fresh mint
|We eventually landed here for lunch
|Here's the money shot: the Dome of the Rock with only a handful of tourists in front
The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount is
THE central site in Jerusalem, along with the
Western Wall. It is a gorgeous shrine with its
gold-plated dome and blue Persian tiles, and it
perches above the city atop the Temple Mount
plaza. Here is where the Second Temple once
stood, the same temple Jesus visited in his day
when he threw out the moneychangers. It also
marks the spot where the Holy of Holies -- the
Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets of
the Ten Commandments -- once stood back in
the days of the First Temple in Solomon's time.
What exactly is the "rock" in Dome of the Rock?
It is said to be THE rock where God stayed
Abraham's hand from sacrificing his son Isaac.
Also called the Foundation Stone, it is holy to
Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Before there
was a Temple Mount, there was a hill here that
many believe was Mt. Moriah, where Abraham
came to sacrifice Isaac. While most of the hill is
now hidden by the construction of the Temple
Mount itself, its flattish peak is still visible
inside the Dome of the Rock. It's believed to be
on this same spot that the Ark of the Covenant
once stood, which is why Jews all over the
world still traditionally pray in this direction.
Only Muslims are currently permitted to enter
the shrine, but it was still exciting just to stand
on the Temple Mount itself, so close to the
spiritual epicenter of three major religions.
|You can see just how flat the Temple Mount is. Herod the Great built this huge plaza (about the size of six
football fields) to accommodate the throngs of pilgrims that arrived in Jerusalem at Passover and other holy days.
|This is the colorful Dome of the Chain, a separate prayer house
that sits just east of the Dome of the Rock (see the photo above)
|Domed ceiling of Dome of the Chain
|Modest dress is required here, as well as decorum. We watched as a guard called out "No touching!" as men and women put their arms around
each other as they were taking photos. It's a natural enough thing for tourists to do, but be aware it can cause offense to some in this holy place.
|To create the Temple Mount, Herod essentially built a huge box around Mount Moriah and filled it in.
The famous Western Wall was originally simply one part of the western retaining wall for the box!
|The Dome of the Rock, completed in 691 AD, enshrines the Foundation Stone -- sacred
to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It is the first and oldest Islamic shrine in the world.
|It's thrilling getting your first glimpse of the golden dome when you arrive in Jerusalem
|The El Kas Fountain is a ritual cleansing fountain for Muslim worshippers. Note the seats encircling it.
|Our lunch spot was located near Damascus Gate, the impressive main entry to the
Muslim Quarter and one of two main entrances to the Old City (along with Jaffa Gate)
|After our visit to the Dome of the Rock, we explored some of the streets in the Muslim Quarter