Our first study tour through the Old City gave us some “taste” of this place that is so different to Australian Cities. I am still struggling with how narrow and overpopulated the streets are. They seem to be more than just for travelling. They are centers of various forms of activity: social, shopping etc. As we walked through the Jaffa Gate I could see that what is used by most people walking through isn’t the actual gate but an opening in the wall next to the real gate that seems to be hidden for those standing in front of the opening. As we were approaching the Jaffa Gate I understood why the tower next to the cade was contributed to King David even if it was built long time after the King’s death. The citadel does make an impression on visitors and some centuries ago people seeing t it though it was built by the famous Jewish Leader. There is some suggestions that the place saw Jesus being presented to the crowds by Pilate. The word Gabbatha used in John’s Gospel means height
and it would fit into the Citadel that is a high place in the city indeed. The Old city has been divided into four uneven quarters, the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Does it mean that the Armenians aren’t Christians? As we continued our walk through the Jewish Quarter the more modern buildings changed the atmosphere of the place. Even if they are built in similar style to the rest of the city they stand out because they are newer. Of course visiting the Jewish Quarter one cannot miss the Western Wall, known also as Wailing Wall. It was interesting to discover that separation of women from men from the time of Temple is still observed. Men can pray in the section that is closer to the original sanctuary while women pray a bit further way. I didn’t realize that on the left there is a covered
continuation of the Wall called Wilson’s Arch that looks like a crypt. In the arch which is also a prayer room there is an ornamented box that first looked to me like a Catholic Confessional Box but of course it isn’t the case. It is a Torah ark that can house over 100 Torah scrolls. After leaving the Jewish Quarter we waked into the Muslim Quarter. Surprisingly the Via Dolorosa, the way that traditionally marks the final journey of Christ runs through the Muslim part of the Old City. As we dive into the labyrinth of streets I felt like in an underground maze overcrowded with little shops. An interesting point of this part of our tour was exploring the Damascus Gate. Compering to the Jaffa Gate it is full of life and business activity. It was a good example of what gates were like in the Biblical Times. The Damascus Gate also help us to understand how the place has changed since the antiquity. The outside road that used to be at the level of the gate is much higher now due to the rubble and dirt gathered there over centuries. Today it is not a road for vehicles only for pedestrians.