The holiest city in the world, and a place that’s been on my bucket list for a decade… Jerusalem. I’m so happy to be here.
You guys know I’m constantly on the move, with hopes of cracking my 100 country mark in the not too distant future so sometimes I could be accused of being a little blasé about visiting another city, another country. What’s one more when you’ve been to so many right? Well, Israel and Jerusalem in particular put that right instantly. Traveling in Israel is really traveling, and it’s beautiful.
Each day in Israel, there’s a chance to take a free 2 hour tour of Jerusalem city. You meet outside the old city, at Jaffa Gate at 11am but you’ll probably be staying at Abraham’s hostel anyways so meet in the lobby at 10.20 and you’ll be all set. Gal, one of the partners of Abraham’s has a background in tourism (hence his awesome hostel) and he actually set up these free tours, just another reason to use Jerusalem as your base.
Jerusalem is the holiest city in the world to both Jews and Christian and the 3rd Holiest to Muslims, and as you walk around with your tour guide you’ll see why. Christians believe Christ was crucified here, Jews believe that under the Temple Mount is the Stone of Foundation – the place where the universe began, where their first Temple and centre of their religion was built, and the Muslims (who also revere Jesus as a propher, but not the Messiah) it’s home to the oldest Mosque in the world (al-Aqsa), and marks the point of Muhammed’s ascension to heaven. It’s fair to say, passions run wild here, and the tour will give you an insight into it.
Taking a free tour of a great idea, partly because Israel is so expensive and secondly it’s a good idea to scratch the surface of such an amazing city, it sets you up well for what to see and do in the next few days.
Essentially the tour took me around the whole old city, from the Christian Quarter, to the Muslin Quarter to the Armenian Quarter and finally the Jewish quarter. It’s truly remarkable how 3 of the world’s biggest faiths run concurrently in one city without really ever mixing.
You’ll see the Wailing Wall, the Church under which Jesus was crucified, you’ll see the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa mosque, BUT you won’t enter any of them, so this is just to whet your appetite, you’ll be back for more later I promise.
The heat of the day was a bit of a killer, but when you’re seeing some of the most important religious sites in the whole world, you get over it. The tour was awesome, tip your guide a couple of euros at the end and you’ll all good for a return the next day to check out everything that you glossed over today. Happy travels!