Day 16 - The Holy City

Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We woke an hour earlier than necessary, which we only figured out after breakfast. Since we were early we managed to fit in a little hotel bathroom basin washing - a real necessity at this point. We decided on the basin after finding out that the hotel charged R50 for one shirt. Big travel tip - if you on the budget and are going to need to do washing, buy a tube of travel clothes washing concentration to take along with you, it saved us at least R700 today and we still have lots left.

Today was an overwhelming day and we are broth very tired after our city tour. Jerusalem is an incredible city, not just for its spiritual and historical significance. The city is much bigger and more modern than I thought it would be. Buildings are only aloud to be built with lime stone, following on the old city's look. Building is only done on hills, with the valleys left as green belt. This means there is a lot of green belt. Rather startling taking into account our trip from the border was through complete desert. Once in the city the desert is gone. A real feat of human ingenuity and development.

After picking up our tour compatriots, we headed to get a panoramic view, from Mount Scopus of the old city of Jerusalem, our focus for the day. The current city is not as it was in Jesus time. After the Jews rebelled around 60 AD, the Romans got fed up after a few years and flattened the city. They rebuilt the city a little further up, with some of the new city overlapping the old city boundaries. This does mean there is guess work in most of the religious sites - but even if not exact the general place is the same. For instance some of the places which were out of the city are within the new walls of the old city.

The city has been through a turbulent past with many different nations ruling, Romans, Turks, Marmalukes, and most recently Jordan, before it was taken back by Israel. All the ruling nations have added their stamp to the history, increasing the city's intrigue.

We won't go into the spirituality of the places we visited, as each person will have there own experience which is theirs, but what I will say is this city is a very special place for many religions, especially the Christians, Jews and Muslims, and is full of a spiritual feeling.

We did a walking tour, starting off on Mount Zion to view the Tomb of King David, the room which the last supper was supposed to have taken place, and also one of three sites in the world where people believe the Virgin Mary is buried.

Jerusalem, in the old Roman design, is divided into quarters. Armenian, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We walked through the Armenian quarter to the Jewish quarter, where excavations had uncovered part of the old roman roads through the city with the street columns and side shops.
These were the streets from when the Romans redesigned the city. The Turks later redesigned the street, filling in the old roman streets. We found it incredible how much filling in of the city went on over the centuries. It's literally a city, built on a city, built on a city. Incredible! Where did they get all the sand from...

From here we went to one of the most sacred places of the Jewish religion - the Wailing Wall. Also spiritual for the Christians and Muslims. This is the last piece of the main temple built in Jerusalem. This is the same temple where Jesus saw the traders selling their goods, got angry and chased them out. Many people who have prays write them down and put them in the cracks of the walls.

We headed from the Jewish quarter to the Christian quarter to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This was built 300 years after Jesus was with us. Constantine's mother, Helen, was sent to Jerusalem to find the holy places. Before Constantine, Christianity was outlawed by the Romans, he adopted Christianity into the Roman way of life, and his mothers pilgrimage to Jerusalem was in support of this.

The church is built around the Golgotha, the place Jesus was crucified. The rock has been built around and is therefore been protected. The cave which he was supposed to be originally buried is within the church too. The church is divided for the many traditional branches of the Christian church, orthadox, catholic, Armenian ect all have there own place within the church. No place for us Protestants however, we made have been too late;) The sepulcher itself is a place which Helen had made to which Christians could go on pilgrimage.

The journey through Jerusalem was very special and spiritual. We are still processing all we have seen today.

We left Jerusalem through the Jaffa gate to catch our bus to a kibbutz for lunch. From here we continued to the holocaust museum. Initially we thought we would be on a half day tour, as per what our itinerary showed, so this was unexpected. We had actually tried to avoid the museum it being a very heavy subject. While heavy we did however find it very interesting, and it is done incredibly well. A lot of effort has been put into the Jewish nation, and its recent history, struggle and achievement in the creation of Israel is reflected in the museum.

End of our tour.

We took a walk over an incredibly designed bridge to have a delicious falafel pita for dinner, and now we are ready to fall into bed- completely worn out.
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Mom on

I can't believe you are really there. Lots of tears down the face. I'm so thrilled that you have been able to experience all that you have read and studied for so long.

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