I’d been wanting to go to the Dome of the Rock on Mount Moriah/Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary for months, and when Ted suggested that I ask some of my students to take the instructors, it seemed like I’d found the best way to visit.
In Judaism, the Temple Mount is where G-d rested, gathered dust to create Adam, and called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The two Jewish Temples were built here as well around the Foundation Stone. In Islam, the Noble Sanctuary is the third holiest site for Muslims, and it is where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven by stepping on the Foundation Stone. The Dome of the Rock, on top of Mount Moriah, is one of the oldest Mulsim buildings in the world.
There’s a very rickety staircase descending from a parking lot by East Jerusalem/Damascus Gate, which has graffiti of which I’m rather fond.
We met Sandra, Jumana, and her sister Lamia outside of Damascus Gate this morning and began making our way along the crowded cobblestone alleys of the Old City.
The guard at the first gate told us that only Muslims could go that way, not tourists, so we pressed onward, opting to cut through the plaza at the Western Wall, then head toward the ramp at the southern end of the Kotel (Western Wall) up to the Temple Mount/Mount Moriah.
Apparently you can’t enter the Western Wall if you’re wearing a hijab, so Jumana and Lamia left the group to go through a Muslims-only gate and rejoin us at top of the mount. We passed through security and emerged into the courtyard in front of the Western Wall/Kotel. I didn’t know if it’d be appropriate to bring Domo-kun into the women’s section, but he did properly morn the destruction of the Temple.
We exited the Kotel plaza, did a U-turn, and entered the security queue for taking a ramp to Mount Moriah. The security fellow tried to give Sandra some hassle, but she stood firm and we were able to pass through the metal detectors. The ramp appears to be temporary: it’s a wooden scaffolding with tarps on the first portion.
Prayer at the Kotel.
From the ramp, you can see to the south of Jerusalem.
At the first turn of the ramp was stacked numerous riot shields. I really don’t want to think about what the Jerusalem police expect here.
We emerged into the relative quiet and calm of the Sanctuary’s plaza, portions of which were covered in remnants of old columns.
Further in, we saw the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which we are not allowed to enter as non-Muslims.
Beyond some pine trees and a fountain, we saw the Dome of the Rock in all of its glory. The dome is made of 24 karat gold. The architects did an amazing job creating this building.
Like the rest of Jerusalem, there was even a feral cat.
The detail at the shrine was amazing: the tiles were incredible beautiful, and the marble used was out of this world. It makes sense that a shrine for a holy rock would include some pretty phenomenal metamorphic rocks!
The doors were constructed from copper.
Sandra, Ben, and Jumana posed for a photo, and I got one with all three students.
We left Mount Moriah, passing by other gates.
The Old City is always full of surprises.
Sandra then took us to the Church of the Redeemer, built by German Lutherans.
We had to pay 5 NIS to get in, and the church initially seemed a little plain, but Sandra held open a nondescript door and smiled, so I followed her directions. Inside the door was a very narrow spiral staircase going up to the top of a very tall tower. Climbing in the heat was a bit of an adventure, but we eventually emerged to the top of the tower and were rewarded with an incredible view.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Our dorms on Mount Scopus
Mount of Olives
Church of the Redeemer
South of Jerusalem and the Security Barrier
We made our way back along the vendors hawking spices, dresses, lingerie from China, cheap plastic toys, men’s clothing, and candy, including a mountain of zatar with a model Dome of the Rock on top.