I discover each time I am here the beauty and fascination of Jerusalem, this place unique on Earth for its combination of faith and history, of landscape, people and emotions. The weekend Liliana and me spent here was a quiet interlude in a busy period with many challenges. Jerusalem welcomed us with fresh air and a cool night (well, cool at least relative to the humid heat of the seashore area where we live) which we used for a guided tour on the ramparts of the old city.  We had already met the guide in one of the previous tours, a young Jerusalemite architect, passionate about his city, its history and people named Noam.The tour took us on the fortified walls of the old city which are not that old actually as they were built in the 17th century during the reign of sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The portion of the walls we walked was the one between the Jaffa and Sion gates, then on the way back we strolled inside the Jewish Quarter and stopped in a few of its more significant places.

I will focus my rendering of the night tour around two of the pictures I took, quite significant for the complex and complicated history of this place.

 

The start of our tour was at the Jaffa Gate. The tower gate and the plaza at the entry of the Old City is marked by ceramic tiles signs created in the 20th century by Armenian ceramists. I wrote about this tradition in a previous blog story about a tour that was dedicated to the Armenian presence in Jerusalem. Look at the two signs. The upper one (‘Jaffa Gate’)  is from the 20s or the 30s of the previous century, during the British Mandate. You can see that the first language is English, as the mandatory laws demanded. The lower sign (the name of the square) has a more complex story. If you look with attention you can see it has two frames. Actually it’s been made in two stages, about 20 years apart. First was the sign written only in Arabic and English which was made during the Jordanian rule over the Old City, in the period Jerusalem was divided and no Jewish presence was allowed in the Old City. Then, after 1967, when the city was unified again under Israeli rule the Hebrew name of the square was added on the upper side of the sign. The same Armenian ceramist made the two parts of the sign.

 

Here is another picture made on the roof of one of the most famous buildings with Biblical significance in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the building below according to the tradition no other than King David is laid to rest. Jews, believers or not, come to pray and pay respect to one of the greatest kings in the history of nation, a saint and a prophet for the other religions. Psalms are being read here all day, all days of the year. The church watch tower belongs to the Dormition Church built at the beginning of the 20th century because it is on the same place that Mother Mary is said to have risen to heaven, and the Last Supper took place. The mosque structures built atop the roof mark the fact that King David of the Jews is also Nabi Dawud, a prophet in the Muslim faith. The symbols of the three religions superpose and interleave with an amazing density on this small and disputed territory.

Here are a few more snapshots from the Thursday night tour.

 

 

The Tower of David (actually built during King Herod) and the new complex of Mamilla.

 

The Abbey of Dormition appears at the end of a narrow street.

 

A portion of what is left of the Cardo – heart of the city in the Byzantine period.

 

Entry Gate of the Beit-El yeshiva.

 

 

Old City of Jerusalem, close to midnight.