Today brought us to Temple Mount. We walked through the old city of Jerusalem and made our way up to the top of Temple Mount, passing over the Western Wall on our way. Temple Mount is where three of the world’s greatest religions all come together, each claiming that this spot is a key point of their faith. For Judaism, this is where King Solomon built his temple in 957 BCE. For Muslims, this is the site where Mohammed ascended to heaven. And for Christians, this is where Jesus came and taught the people. The politics of Temple Mount is so complicated as they work to allow religious freedom of the different groups but also maintain certain procedures for peace and safety for everyone as well. There is constant discussions and some clashes as they try to preserve the rich history. The Dome of the Rock stands as the iconic building with it’s gold plated roof and beautifully colorful tiles looking out over the land that means so much to so many.
We then walked through the Muslim Quarter of the old city where we loved the inviting shops along the narrow walkways. Old Jerusalem is in four different quarters- the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter. There are no divisions between the quarters, everyone moves freely between them. The differences in the different quarters are noticeable more by the style and decoration of the streets than anything else.
Within the Muslim Quarter is the Via Dolorosa which is the processional route that Jesus took as he carried the cross to the spot of crucifixion. At the end of the route is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where pilgrims come to touch and honor the place where Jesus was killed.
It is difficult to really understand how such a place as Jerusalem where religious conflicts are so eminent yet they not only continue in their faiths but also continue to try and find answers to the unanswerable questions of where to go from here. It was a truly humbling experience to be here and I try to better understand the complexity of the history and the politics that constantly surround this area.