24 Hours in Jerusalem - exploring the religious culture of the Old City
Divided into four quarters (Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Armenian), the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and will take the traveller back in time with its religious culture. The sacred sites, old city walls, synagogues, temples and ancient relics give the beholder an amazing insight into the weight of the history that can be found at every nook and cranny of the city. Read on to find out the best places to go to.
Walls of Jerusalem
Erected between 1535 and 1538, the Walls of Jerusalem stand a staggering 12 metres high and stretch around the entire 1 kilometre square area of the old city. A fine example of architecture during the Ottoman Empire, the walls have hundreds of tourists flocking to see them every year due to the mesmerising, ancient experience of seeing these old city walls.
Whilst in the old city, discover the structure of the streets and buildings that echo the 16 century Byzantine Empire, or the interesting nature of the locals that are quite content with living in their historical haven. More than 3,000 years of history speaks volumes about how much there is to explore, despite the small 1km square area of the Old City.
Temple Mount is one of the most well-known as well as important religious sites in the Old City and is subject to many biblical entries across all three religions present in Jerusalem. Accessible via four separate gates, Temple Mount is of course a mountain and is Judaism’s most holy site, as it is said that this is the place where God’s divine presence is most prominent, as well as the site of the creation of the first human, Adam. It has also been considered to be the biblical places of Mount Zion or Mount Moriah.
Four Sephardic Synagogues
Most of the Four Sephardic Synagogues in the Jewish Quarter are still in use today, each one representing a different era of the Old City. Even though they were built during different times, all four of the buildings sit next to each other.
The Shrine of the Book
Home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Shrine of the Book showcases some of the most important and astounding archaeological finds in history. The Dead Sea Scrolls are 2,000 years old and were found in clay jars, the first one being found in 1947 and the rest in the caves of the Qumran area. The shape of the building resembles the shape of the jars that the scrolls were found in. The two oldest copies of the Book of Isaiah also belong to the Shrine.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is believed to be the place that Muhammad was taken to during the ‘Night Journey’.
Calvary and the Garden Tomb
Calvary and the Garden Tomb are very important sites to Christianity; the Garden Tomb is considered to be the very place where Jesus was buried and rose again, whereas Calvary is located just outside the eastern wall of the Old City and is considered to be the place where Jesus was crucified.