Jerusalem with all its charm and magic while being the most disputed place on earth, will surely give us one of a kind travel experience. I’m not talking Jerusalem in general, but for this particular post, it will be more about what they’re famous of. And that is walking through The Temple Mount in The Old City of Jerusalem.
Being known as one of the oldest city in the world and home to the three religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism; read my previous post more about how Jerusalem described. There is one area that has been a mixture of religions, races, and cultures; which known as The Old City. A city within a city.
Before you read through my journal, here’s a map of the places I visit in my Jerusalem Old City walkthrough.
Jerusalem Old City
Why would I say it’s like a city within a city? Because it’s a walled area within the city of Jerusalem. It’s kinda weird to see such area exist. Walking through The Old City of Jerusalem from one place to another feels like entering a different area. Much different than the other part of Jerusalem.
The Old City was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 and home to several holy sites of key religions in Jerusalem. Dome of The Rock and Al – Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, The Western Wall for Jews, and Church of Holy Sepulchre for Christians. Which we’re about to see.
The Four Quarters
If you see the map above, the Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four areas; or more familiar with four quarters. From the north-east corner (going counter-clockwise) is the Muslim quarter which is the largest in area, the Christian quarter, the Armenian quarter, and Jewish quarter.
There was a small Moroccan quarter before destroyed in the six-day war in 1967. It was located in the southeast corner of the Old City. The Moroccan quarter was mostly destroyed in order to give visitors better access to the Western Wall by creating the Western Wall plaza. The parts that were not destroyed are now part of the Jewish Quarter.
The population here mostly reside in Muslim and Christian quarters. With the largest population of Muslims made up more than half the entire population in the Old City Jerusalem. Today, the Israeli government controls the entire area although being denied by the United Nations, which now make the East Jerusalem as the occupied Palestinian territory.
Through The Security Checkpoint of Temple Mount
Entering from the Dung Gate where I passed the day before, visiting the Western Wall. We did come early that day to avoid the long queue. I remember it’s only 8 in the morning and it’s already more than half an hour for us to get through their security checkpoint before entering the Al – Aqsa area.
I would like to suggest you have a check before entering this site, the one major thing that we are told many times, “No Christian Attributes allowed…”. That means your cross necklace, you cross earrings, your shirt, bibles, other stuff that has something to do with Christianity. Don’t carry inside, clear?
I think that’s what makes the security checkpoint longer than it should. And second, please be polite with your clothing especially women. It’s a common sense when you visit a religious site, alright. Because it’s a Muslim holy site, so no Christian attributes and mind what you wear.
Even our group which had been warned multiple times by Mr. Dani, our guide, still got stopped right after we passed the checkpoint. Some women in our group told to cover their certain parts (which I honestly think it’s more than covered). Yeah, things got serious here.
Here’s a GIF to give you a picture of how it looks at the first impression.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, also known as Bayt al-Muqaddas meaning “The Farthest Mosque”. It is one of the holiest sites in Islam, after the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. It is believed that the prophet Mohammad was transported from Mecca to the Al-Aqsa mosque during the night journey.
Getting inside the area, Mr. Dani gave us a brief about this place and the story that lies behind. I’m more interested in hearing the part of the conflicts he mentioned. And he kept warned us about things not to do here if we’d like to stay and see around. I feel excited but anxious at the same time.
I honestly felt uncomfortable with all the restrictions, even more with the so-called officials or police patrolling around with their eyes hunting for “mistakes” so they can kick you out. Yeah, that’s what they did (I saw it happened) to some people.
There are some places to see here other than just the mosque. The El-Kas fountain just in front of the mosque and the Museum of the Islamic Art. We were told this mosque was destroyed two times by earthquake both in 705 CE and 1033.
The surrounding area was nice as far as I saw it. Well maintained, clean, and actually, it is beautiful. I saw lots of Muslims hanging out sitting on the bench, playing chess, some just talking with their friends. But you will notice the tourists, they all in some “different” kind of clothing. 🙂
From where I stand in the photo above, is the center point where I can see the Temple Mount right behind me. The Al-Aqsa Mosque and The Dome of The Rock are located across to each other.
Dome of The Rock
It’s still 9 in the morning local time but you can see there’s quite a lot of people already. Most of them will be concentrated at that stair taking selfies or group pictures. I’m waiting, in turn, to take a closer shot from that point, but forget it. I’m not gonna waste my time on waiting for their narcism to be satisfied.
This shrine was initially completed in 691 CE, built on the site of the Roman temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which had in turn been built on the site of Herod’s Temple. destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The original dome collapsed in 1016 and was rebuilt in 1021.
This is what we have always seen on TV or video or advertising about Israel, this building with the gold color dome on top of it. The Dome of The Rock is, until today, a religious site for Christian, Islam, and the holiest site for Judaism. Known as the first and the second temple (read it on my post about The Western Wall), destroyed during the Roman siege in 70 CE.
Inside this dome is the famous widely spoken, Foundation Stone. A place where it is believed Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Isaac (Ishmael, according to Islamic belief) as written in Genesis 22, known as Mount Moriah.
The Judaism also consider this is the place where the world expanded, the creation site. They also believe this is where God gathered the dust to create the first human, Adam. Wow, what a place. No wonder it is labeled “Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark”.
If You Would Like to Stay
I did mention earlier that there are police or so-called authorities patrolled the Temple Mount area and they can kick you out of this place if they find something inappropriate according to them. No joke, it happened.
That woman with the red hat on the photo above got escorted out from the Temple Mount area along with her group. Not sure if they are pilgrims or not. Why? Simply because she was taking a selfie right in front of the Dome of The Rock, by “in front of … ” I mean the door. Dang!
Another one, some couple from a tour group that just arrived after us, they also got escorted out but with some yelling from the authorities. A little bit of drama happened, which seems like a fight, but not that bad. The police yelled mad at them for holding hands and hugging or that kind of romantic post while taking a selfie. Some couple, not just one. Double dang!
No Dang Tips
So I think I will share the safety tips which I also got from our lovely guide, Mr. Dani. This tips will keep you safe inside and not get kicked out;
- Wear a polite appropriate outfit, both men, and women. Especially women, don’t wear leggings or something that looks too tight and revealing your “body”. Better be safe than sorry. A scarf will help, ladies.
- Don’t be too loud or noisy. This is one of the world’s most holy sites for three different religion for God sake! How hard is it to be considerate?
- Don’t bring Christian-related stuff.
- If you bring harmful items such as nuclear weapons, grenade, knife, samurai, etc. Well… Good luck then.
- Don’t touch or get too close to their Holy Sites. Take selfie! But please don’t touch and if they warned you to keep your distance, with the building, please do.
- Couples, married or not, do your romantic things outside. Don’t hold hands, don’t hug, don’t get too close to each other. Sometimes they can be annoying to warn you not to get too close to your partner.
- Don’t litter! Duh…!
That’s all the golden rules of not getting kicked out. Although, Mr. Dani said if they kick you out, you can get back in but you have to go through the entrance all over again. Imagine the queue through the security checkpoint. So, better be safe than sorry, right?
The Golden Gate
The Golden Gate also is known as the Gate of Mercy. It is the oldest gate in the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. One of only two gates that used to offer access into the city from the east side.
According to Jewish tradition, this is where the Shekinah appeared and will appear once again when the Messiah comes. Yes, this is the prophecy which is written in Ezekiel 44, where the Messiah will come once again enter Jerusalem through this gate.
Currently, the gate is shut and we cannot see from close. I took the photo above from the rail where there’s a closed stair going down to the gate. The gate was sealed by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman The Magnificent. He did it to prevent the Messiah entering the gate.
Until now, Muslims don’t like the idea of that Messiah entering the Golden gate, so they put dumpster and trashes as a symbol of their dislike.
Temple Mount in A Nutshell
The dispute between Muslims and Israeli authorities about this Temple Mount site has been a long complicated story. The triple claim of three religions, the territory conflict of two nations, and the complexity of the Holy Site being ministered by Islamic trust and funded by the King of Jordan, etc.
I know how the complex issue could be so overwhelming. But let’s not focus on those issues, let’s focus on how the beauty of these difference can create such an amazing landmark.
In fact, that’s what I’ve been focusing on while I was there. I didn’t take a lot of photos, but just enjoying the moment and be grateful that I have the chance to visit this conflict zone and saw it with my own eyes. It’s more like a privilege to me, not everyone can visit this site.
I think that’s everything I had for this Temple Mount post. Check out this pilgrim travel journal from the very first post. I would like to know if you have visited this place, leave me a comment below. Give us a like and follow us on social media!
Here are some nice short explanatory videos about Temple Mount which I found helpful.
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