Day 138: The [Very] Old City.
Among other reasons for wanting to come to Israel, I took a New Testament Archaeology class in college that has had me excited for this place ever since. The things we saw and studied throughout the semester helped me to put this country, and Jerusalem specifically, on my "some day" Bucket List.
Following our pattern of joining walking tours, we started out at the Jaffa Gate with one of the best we've ever had. (As a former teacher, I seriously couldn't understand how this tour guide didn't lose his voice by the end - so animated!) He started us off with general history of Jerusalem, mostly who has been in control at what time, and then we moved into the Old City.
The Old City is contained within some very large walls built during the Ottoman Empire (1500s), and is divided into four quarters: Armenian, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. Each has it's own distinct feel, culture, and traditions, and each are so different!
Besides the neighborhoods, we also made a stop to view the Western Wall. Ever since that college course, this has been one of the places I've been most excited to see. It has long been revered in the Jewish faith, and now is part of the Temple Mount revered by the Muslim faith. From there, we made our way through the Souk, or market, and then finished our tour at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a major site of Christian significance.
If you aren't slightly overwhelmed by the time you make your way through these four quarters, you are obviously not doing something right. The amount of cultural and religious intersections here is sort of mind-boggling, and we are still a little intimidated by the complexity of things we experienced. The history here is wild and humbling.