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Part 5: The Old City of Jerusalem

Jerusalem or Al-Quds in Arabic is a city significant in a number of religious believes – Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Not many other places in the world that one can witness Muslims, Christians and Jews share centuries of history.

Within the modern city of Jerusalem lies the Old City of Jerusalem which is a 0.9 square kilometers walled area.  This small area is extremely rich with layers of the past and over the last centuries has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt over and over again.

There are quite a few unique characteristics about then Old City of Jerusalem. One if it is of course the famous walls surrounding the Old City.

The wall surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem

The wall surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem

Built by the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th Century, there are 8 entrances or commonly known as gates into the old city.

Nearest to our hotel is the Herod Gate.

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Inside the wall is where all the action is. Locals and visitors roaming around either visiting sacred and historic places or just enjoying the vibrant markets in Old Jerusalem.

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Another unique feature of the Old City of Jerusalem is the fact that it is divided into four different quarters that divide the city culturally, religiously and even historically.

The Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter.

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During our 4 days in Jerusalem, we had the chance to join a tour of the quarters within the Old City of Jerusalem as well as a couple of times where my wife and I ventured on our own looking for souvenirs and food. We did not feel unsafe touring the quarters outside the Muslim Quarter. Security was tight at the gates and police presence can be seen almost everywhere so we applied the basic tourist common sense when it comes to safety and Alhamdulillah besides the usual tourist traps in bargaining everything went quite ok.

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The Muslim Quarter.

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This is the most frequent quarter that we visited. Not just because it is where Al-Aqsa mosque is located and we went to the mosque everyday but also simply because it is the largest and most populous quarter.

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Souvenir and food hunting within the Muslim Quarter, a bonus after coming back from the mosque.

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Must try is the Kunafa, a delicious sweet dessert

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and the famous Palestinian dish known as Maqluba (upside down).

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The beauty is really to wander around those small lanes within the Old City and discover some hidden gem. Like this small shop selling falafel sandwich we found on the last day of the trip thanks to our fellow jemaah.

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At the Christian Quarter, we checked out the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christianity’s holiest places.

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Beautifully designed Church from the inside and outside.

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This is a major pilgrimage centre for Christians all around the world.

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Christian believes that this Church is the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.

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Guided by our tour group leader, we also toured a portion of the Jewish Quarter.

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A must-see in the Jewish Quarter is the Cardo. The line of the Cardo Maximus is still visible and well preserved.

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Once upon a time.

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Something not quite right with the above photo. Could you spot it?

Too bad we could not get any closer to the famous Wailing Wall due to the restrictions on Muslims put in place by the authorities.

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As you can see, the other side of the Wailing Wall is the Masjid Buraq and you could also see the dome of Masjid Al-Aqsa.

A close up of the Wailing Wall.

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It was a cool experience being able to explore the narrow twisted streets of Jerusalem’s Old Town and discover three out of the four quarters: Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Make sure you make time to visit these places either through a tour group or on your own.

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