On our visit we spent much of our time by the Wailing Wall (Western Wall) as I hadn't arranged a visit to Temple Mount in advance. Temple Mount stretches across most of the old town and contains the golden Dome of the Rock. Exploring the the interiors of the Temple Mount requires advance arrangement(for non-Muslims) which we hadn't done in time for the trip, although the courtyard around it is accessible. The Western Wall is separated in two parts; men and women each have their own sections. This place holds an important position in Jewish prophecies, one being that the Holy Temple will eventually be reconstructed. This is in reference the Holy Temple which was destroyed in 70CE by Titus and the Roman legions. The wall was filled with people pushing little slips of paper with prayers into the cracks of the wall. It is amazing just the number of people that pass through here and just how visiting this place fills you with such a sense of emotion. I don't know whether it's the wall that has that effect on people or whether that was due to the visit being even more special for me as I was visiting during my mother's memorial. So part-taking in prayers at this Holy site, also on behalf of my sisters for my mum's memorial was a little more personal than just a visit at a 'tourist site'. I think, regardless whether you are Jewish or not, the power this place holds is truly undeniable. One of those things I guess you certainly have to experience yourself.
Walking around the city, its new buildings attempt to keep in line with architecture of old structures by keeping a facade on the outer buildings similar to that of old Jerusalem. Old and new seem to merge almost effortlessly even though there are more modern building around. Getting around the city was also been made easier as we parked the car at Mount Herzl(Free! Take that London!) and took the light-rail train which runs through Mount Herzl, Damascus gate, which is one of the closest stops to walk to through the market leading to the Western Wall. Transportation within Jerusalem is fairly inexpensive with about 4 Shackles for a light rail single pass.
The 48 hours in Jerusalem is no where near enough as there was so much more still left to see in and around the city. Probably why I might be heading back for another visit next year. Mount of Olives is not too far from the Western Wall, the neighbouring town of Bethlehem is also only 20 minutes drive from Jerusalem but note that there is security check points to get there.
Like all journeys in a new city there is always time to check out the markets and feast on local delicacies. A trip to Mahane Yehuda Market is another must if you are in Jerusalem. Its a Bazaar-like market with stalls filled with colourful fruits and veg and sweet breads that were just perfect with fresh humus and falafal. The perfect way to enjoy a break from exploring while people watching with some good food.
Have you been to Jerusalem? What were your thoughts on the city?
A weekend in Jerusalem. 48 hours in Jerusalem.