Date of visit: April 26, 2015
This is the last day of sightseeing in Jerusalem. Finally, we went to the Hill of the Temple.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the tomb of Christ
First thing in the morning, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which we visited on the first day. We visited the Tomb of Christ, which we couldn’t see at that time because it was crowded with many people.
Even though it was 8 am, there were many tourists, but still less than the day before yesterday, and we could see the tomb of Christ easily.
The entrance and interior are very narrow, so only four people are allowed inside at a time. First, we were lined up in a line of four people, which formed a group, and one by one, we were led inside. Inside, there is a small room and then a “tomb” in the back. We waited in the small room first, and when the previous group came out of the tomb, we switched places and entered. I think it was possible to take pictures inside the tomb, but I didn’t take any because no one was taking pictures. At the tomb of Christ, everyone was kneeling and kissing the pedestal, so I tried to do the same. Even though I am not a Christian, I felt very holy myself.
Go to “Temple Hill”, the biggest highlight of sightseeing in Jerusalem
Next, we headed to the Temple Mount. This is one of the biggest highlights of sightseeing in Jerusalem. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the Temple Mount only through the Moroccan Gate, which is right next to the Wall of Woe that we visited yesterday. We arrived around 8:30am, but there was already a queue of tourists.
Even so, we reached the gate entrance around 9:30, about an hour after we started lining up. Of course, the baggage and ID checks are done well. I think it was even stricter than when entering the Wall of Woe. There was no passport check at the Wailing Wall. By the way, it seems that Jews are not allowed to enter.
Now, to get to the Temple Hill, you have to go through a wooden passage like this one.
This wooden walkway is right next to the Wall of Sorrows. You can see it in the full view photo of the Wall of Lamentations that I took that day. This is a completely Muslim-controlled area, so it’s deviated from the rest of the city like this, but it’s an indescribable feeling.
By the way, you can see the Wall of Lamentations clearly from this wooden passage. It was not a rest day (Saturday), so photography was allowed.
Then, safely through the passageway, I stepped onto the Temple Hill I had longed for.
Overwhelmed by the beauty of the “Dome of the Rock
Now, towering in the middle of this temple hill is the Dome of the Rock. This is a holy place for both Jews and Muslims, which is why it has been the site of various conflicts over this place. The “holy rock” inside the dome is very important, and for Jews, it is the platform where Abraham tried to sacrifice his son Isaac to God in the Old Testament, and for Muslims, it is the place where Prophet Muhammad experienced his journey to the heavens (Miuraj) in one night (from Wikipedia). (from Wikipedia).
Unfortunately, it is now forbidden for non-Muslims to visit, so we could only see and take photos from outside. However, it is very beautiful. The present design was ordered by Suleiman I in the Ottoman period.
Another representative building on the Temple Hill is the Al-Aqsa Mosque. However, this place was also not open to non-Muslims.
Note that there are no shops or toilets on Temple Hill!
Half an hour passed in no time as I was taking various pictures on the Temple Hill. I wanted to go to the bathroom and get some water, but unfortunately there were no stores or toilets in this area. So, it is always recommended to bring your own drinks and use the restroom beforehand.
The Western Wall again.
When you leave the Temple Hill, you can freely leave from any place except the Moroccan Gate where you came in, but be careful because you can’t go back once you leave. We had a lot of time on this day, so we revisited the Wall of Sorrow which we visited the day before. Because it was not Sabbath, we could take photos. Compared to the previous day’s Sabbath, there were slightly fewer people, and it was more open. There were also many tourists.
Of course, there were many Orthodox Jews there.
Looking back, behind you is the Jewish quarter. It is a European style town.
In this way, it’s a very peaceful city. Both the Wailing Wall and the Temple Hill are usually peaceful spots that are crowded with citizens and tourists.
To the Mount of Olives.
Then we decided to go to Mount Olive. I could have walked there, but I decided to take a taxi because of the steep slope and the temperature (I think it was over 30 degrees). Taxis were parked around the Wall of Sorrow, so I contacted one of them. As usual, he said “I’ll take you to Bethlehem and Jericho”, but I said “It’s enough if you drop me off at the Mount of Olives. I said, “It’s 15 shukels”, so I decided to get in.
The Mount of Olives is a small mountain on the east side of Jerusalem. Although it is now effectively controlled by Israel, it used to be East Jerusalem, so most of the residents are Arabs, or Palestinians. I’ll skip the details, but honestly speaking, the atmosphere was bad. To be honest, the atmosphere was not good. Indeed, the guidebook said that it was not safe.
That said, the view from here is fantastic.
By the way, there is a “Church of the Ascension” on top of this mountain, built on the spot where the resurrected Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, but it seems to be a mosque now, and there were a few suspicious Arabs guarding it, so we gave up on visiting it. It was a shame, because our goal was to see it.
And on the slope of this mountain is a series of “Jewish Cemeteries”. It seems that the cemetery was built here because the Messiah, who is predicted in the Bible to appear in the “last days,” is called to descend on this mountain.
By the way, Judaism says that the Messiah has not appeared yet, and Christianity says that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
With the Jewish cemetery on our left, we descended the Mount of Olives and headed back to Jerusalem city. There were several churches along the way, including the Church of Mary Magdalene, but the only one we were able to visit near noon on this Sunday was the Church of the Lord Weeping.
We decided to go back down the Mount of Olives and back to the Old City of Jerusalem. (The rest of this day’s diary will be in the next issue)