Temple Mount & the Dome of the Rock
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 men’s section of 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 are 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. Jews are not allowed in the building of the Dome of the Rock and yet they are over protecting it so that the different branches of the Muslim faith can worship there without conflicting with each other. The Jews instead worship at the Western Wall which is the wall that would have been the closest to Solomon’s Temple. Christians follow the path of Jesus, right by Temple Mount, through the old city to the point where he was crucified.
With such differing beliefs all focused on one place, there are constant discussions and a few clashes as they try to preserve the rich history while still allowing everyone to worship as they will. It was interesting to learn that when religious holidays land on the same day, they very carefully arrange different times through the day for each group to worship and celebrate. And at the center 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.
the Muslim Quarter
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.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
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.
A church was erected on the spot and visitors can touch the rock where he was crucified and see the tomb that he was buried in. These are lovingly tended as visitors from around the world come to honor and to pray. The church displays an incredible beauty in the ornate details that have been put in everywhere. Tiled mosaics fill the walls and ceilings and candles light the way through the passages.
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 as I try to better understand the complexity of the history and the politics that constantly surround this area.