To say the area of Jerusalem and Israel is a little difficult to explain would be a huge understatement. In fact, if I’m completely honest with you I have been procrastinating a bit with writing this post. Not because I didn’t like the country, far from it! But because it is the Holy Land and there are so many religions converging here and over such a long time that I want to do the place justice and try to sum up my experience.
Now I am not religious, but I don’t have a problem with anyone who is no matter what the religion and I did find Israel and the history very intriguing. I, like a lot of religious people believe faith is a powerful ally and while my beliefs are more in myself and the power of the universe and not a particular religion, finding out more about Christians, Catholics, Muslims and Jews was incredible, especially since they all live in Jerusalem together.
In our two days in Israel we visited the significant Holy cities of Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. But before we crossed the border to Israel we visited the place where Jesus was baptised on the Jordan river. The Jordan river has now receded but a few ruins remain to indicate where this took place. The border crossing should have gone off without a hitch but for some reason the Israelis thought I was dodgy and could not understand why I had such a strange name coming from Australia. I’m not sure whether it was my first name or Ramsay my middle name but they held me for some time until finally letting me through. Once in Israel safely and without stamps on our passports (which is a must if you plan to travel to other places like Turkey) we rested up until our tour began the following morning.
Now if I am to write about the entire history of Israel I will be here forever and since I am no expert on the topic I will sum up with this explanation of the view here of Jerusalem.
So from left to right on the image below you will see the places I have marked and I will let you know their significance.
The church here is on Mt. Zion which is believed to be the location of Christ’s last supper.
The next is an Islamic Mosque.
The monument is a Muslim monument which is on top of Foundation Rock, the place believed to be where god created the earth from. This also happens to be where the last prophet Mohammed (Muslim faith) ascended to their heaven.
Behind the walls marked is where the Romans sentenced Jesus to death and made him drag the cross from.
The arched gates here are where the Jewish believe the last prophet (there is still one coming) will pass through and the people in the cemetery (foreground) will be resurrected and follow him.
To the right is the All Nations Church which is said to be built on the location of where Jesus was caught by the Romans.
So as you can see, this is just the tip of the religious iceberg when it comes to the Holy Land. Once our tiny brains were overloaded with this information we proceeded to the churches inside the walls of Jerusalem and followed the path Jesus took when he carried the cross and the saw his final burial place.
I also found the ‘wailing wall’ where the Jewish pray for up to 12 hours a day very interesting. They face the wall which is the closest point they can reach to Foundation Rock and rock back and forth and read from their bibles. Right next to this wall and the Jewish quarter we stepped into another world and into the Muslim quarter where the smells of spices and smoke could be found just like when we were in Jordan. For me the most incredible part of all these sights was the fact there are so many people of different beliefs and traditions living side by side.
We then entered Bethlehem and the cave when Jesus was born. The city is run by the Palestinians and a wall still separates it from Jerusalem which is covered in some powerful graffiti.
Now of course Israel is far more complex than this post could ever explain but I hope it has helped if you are thinking of visiting. Religious or not, Israel is a place rich in history and beliefs and was totally safe and full of warm welcoming people, like most places I have discovered. I only wish we had more time to explore deeper and visit the city of Tel Aviv. Maybe next time 🙂