Monday, 17 July 2017


Our stay at Ein Gedi had been fabulous. We were refreshed and rejuvenated and now it was time to head to Jerusalem. We said goodbye to the Dead Sea and headed back North so we could head west.

We passed the ubiquitous date palm trees and you can see a clump of dates on the tree to the right (but not clearly).

I was fascinated by the Bedouin settlements and we saw quite a few on our way.

I can't say much about them, so I will let the images speak for themselves.

You can see a pen of cattle in this one. 

There often were  donkeys, too.

On our way in we could see the Dome of the Rock built in 691 during the second Fitna. It was buit on a Roman temple, which was built on a Jewish synagohue, which was built on who knows what other sacred building(s).

We wended our way past romantic streets,

and through the Bazaar, but had no time to shop right then.

Our goal was the very famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here, the Bible tells us,  Jesus was crucified and then entombed.

This holy place is claimed by a wide variety of groups of course and was particularly fought over between the Franciscans who renovated the place in 1555 and the Orhtodox. Possession switched back and forth depending on who was able to get permission from the sultan. The ladder under the middle window shows how petty they can be about  their "ownership." One faction was doing work and the other faction found out and it was proclaimed that nobody was allowed to go up an remove the "immovable ladder." Made of cedar wood, the ladder has supposedly been there since 1757. According to Wikipedia, basically no cleric from any of the six ecumenical orders is allowed to move, rearrange or alter any property of the Sepulchre without the permission of the other five orders.

Supposedly (according to Eusebius of Caesarea - remember Caesarea?) Hadrian had a Temple to Venus constructed on the site of Jesus crucifiction to bury the site in the second century CE. In 325-6 Constantine then decided to replace the temple with a church, which is the distant beginning of the structure you see above. Constantine actually built two churches one over the tomb and one over the site of the crucifiction. He is the one that built the aedicule around the remains in the tomb. This is the exterior of the aedicule.

...and this is a part of the interior. 

This is from Wikipedia. (Bless them for all their information and the hard work of the public that keeps thigs up to date - everyone should send them money!)  

Below you can see an artist's rendition of Constantine's churches (again from Wikipedia). Notice there are domes and no tower yet (The tower came from the Crusaders hundreds of years later.)

Here, I believe, is Golgotha's rock:

Of course there were fires and earthquakes and a variety of destroyers, builders and rebuilders as well as changes in "ownership" over the years. In 1009 the Caliph ordered the place destroyed and most of it was torn down. Sadly (and alas not atypically) European Christians blamed the Jews, which resulted in expulsions of Jewish people from European cities such as Limoges and of course this falsehood was later used to rouse up people to go on the crusades. Later there was permission given to rebuild by a different Caliph (And this church was one of the focal points for Europeans marching to the Holy Lands - Pope Urban II did not want the Turks to come into possession of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.)

This explains Godfrey of Bouillon's choice of title when he took over Jerusalem: "Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri" - Protector of the Holy Sepulchre.

The crusaders excavated, rebuilt, remodeled - added a romanesque tower and unified the place into a single edifice.

Notice the use of rounded arches characteristic of romanesque architecture.

A fire brought the dome down in 1808 and it was subsequently rebuilt and the church remodeled once again this time in Byzantine style.

People from many different sects come to visit.

This little R2D2-like structure was yet another not too happy reminder of how well Christians (and other religions) play together and is a fitting monument to the history of the place.

Have you figured out what it is? It is a bomb disposal unit.

We next went to the Church of the Redeemer , a 19th century German Lutheran church of little interest (to me) to climb the bell tower and see a beautiful panorama of the city.

Near the bathroom were these arches - looked very romanesque, but I don't know their origin.

What follows are some pieces of the panorama that I shot from the bell tower.

These are most likely all very famous buildings, but I can't identify any of them.

Here is another view of the Dome of the Rock again. The gold on the roof was added in 1959.

My guess is, it probably used to look more like this:

After we climbed down again, it was time for shopping.  I admit, I was overwhelmed. I hate, hate, hate bargaining and everybody I try to deal with can tell! So everything I saw was either too expensive or I paid what they asked. 

My one (near) succes was with this guy. 

I wanted that black and white scarf. I got him down to 38 shekels, but the students I was with told me that was too much, so I didn't buy. Now of course I wish I had. BUT, I owuld not have had enough money for the beautiful earrings I bought later, so maybe it was okay after all. Oh well. Much too soon it was time to get back in the bus and go to the Israel museum, but it turned out to be a fantastic museum with more stuff than anyone could ever imagine, so it must have been a good thing to leave when we did! 

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