Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jerusalem Hotel 2045

I saw pretty much most of the Old City today. It really helps to go with someone who knows their way around.

We went to the Western Wall, where my guide explained what everyone was doing. I already knew the praying part, but the history is far longer and more complicated than I realized.

We walked the Via Dolorosa and he showed me around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is a lot bigger and more intricate than what I saw the first time. It's a maze within the maze.

My guide explained the Stone of Anointing, Catholicon and Aedicule, and took me up the narrow steps to Calvary and down to the chapels, including Mary Magdalene, St Helena and the Armenian chapel.

The line to get into the Aedicule was pretty short, so we went inside. If you're raised a Christian, that's something you really have to do, no matter how you feel about it all today. Even if you're not a Christian, it's the tomb of Jesus Christ, arguably the most influential figure in the history of the world. There's no real reason not to go in and take a peek.

The best part about exploring the Old City with a local was going to the Temple Mount. Getting in is more complicated than going to the other big holy sites. Every religion controls their own sites here and the Muslims are far more strict. We just walked right up to Christian and Jewish sites, no questions asked. The Temple Mount requires a security check and is only open at certain times.

It was worth it. You can't go inside any of the buildings if you're not Muslim, but you can walk around and get the closest possible view of the Dome of the Rock. It's an amazing looking building up close. The attention to detail with all of the hand painted tiles is incredible. The history isn't as long as the Western Wall, but it's definitely complicated.

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