Friday, May 3, 2013

The Old City

I haven't been in the city very much yet, but it was easy to see that there is a big difference between East and West Jerusalem. We walked through both sides of the city on our four hour orientation tour yesterday (Was it only yesterday? They pack so much into our days here that I'm losing track of time). East Jerusalem is the Arab side, and West is the Jewish side. Until 1967 (when Israel won another war...), East Jerusalem was actually part of Jordan. Since the two sides of the city were in different countries for several decades, and because they are for the most part inhabited by different peoples; there's a dramatic difference when you cross into the other side of the city.

I don't know if that makes sense. I still have jet lag. Whatever.

The Jerusalem Center is in East Jerusalem, so we have to cross through there first to go anywhere. East Jerusalem is pretty dirty, crowded, and very old, historical, and interesting. It looks exactly like what I picture in my head when I think of the Middle East. I went there again today with a couple people (my second time in the city!).

A lot of the streets are these narrow, covered market type things. Here's one I was in today:

It's kind of blurry, but you can see the African Christian pilgrims. There are hundreds of Eastern Orthodox (mostly Eastern European and Africans) in Jerusalem this week because they're celebrating Easter this Sunday.

Today we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was built on the spot where Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that Christ was crucified and resurrected. It was originally built in 325!! That's old! But it has been rebuilt a few times since then. We didn't get to go inside yet, but I'm excited to do that. It's one of the most famous churches in the world.

Here's a glimpse of how crowded it was.

After fighting the crowds to see the church, we started to make our way back to get there in time for dinner. We got a little turned around, but saw some pretty things. 

These are pretty much the typical streets.

Anyways, before finding our way home, we accidentally ran into the Western Wall. We saw lots of Jews heading there to pray. And then we accidentally tried to go through the Muslims-only gate to the Dome of the Rock. We weren't even trying to go there. And some soldiers with Uzis could tell we weren't Muslim (I wonder how? #pale) and kindly suggested that we get away from there. Oops. But I bet uninformed tourists such as ourselves do that all the time.

So that's East Jerusalem. It's crazy! I don't have any pictures from West Jerusalem yet, but it's clean and modern, and totally different from this part of the city! It looks a lot more like Europe or America. I can sense that I will be going shopping there in the near future.


  1. I can see how easy it would be to get turned around on those streets! What an adventure!

  2. p.s. "tender mercy"

  3. I totally picture Aladdin the "street rat" running through the marketplace looking at these pictures (different country, same look) : )