The Old City of Jerusalem

To finish off our trip to Israel, we spent our last weekend in Jerusalem with Ofri and Niv.  

Wow, such an incredible city!  There is SO much to see, learn, and experience.  Such an ancient city with so much history, where do you start…?  Fortunately, Niv found a free walking tour, which we all thoroughly enjoyed!  

Here's a summary of a few of the major events that occurred here:
  • World Creation: Ok, maybe it didn't actually start here, but apparently the Jewish people believe that the Rock Under the Dome was used to create the world
  • The Mount of Olives - where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son to prove his faith to God
  • David, the first Jewish king who built his city here
  • 586 BC - Persians (now-day Syrians) took over the promised land
  • 63 BC - the Romans took over the promised land
  • 30 AD - Jesus was crucified and died here
  • 570 AD - Mohammad ascended to heaven from the Rock Under the Dome (Note that there was no Dome at the time)
  • 638 AD - Muslims took over the promised land
  • 1099 - Crusaders took over the promised land
  • 1917 - the British came
  • 1948 - Israel was created

Here's the Jerusalem history cheat-sheet that our guide showed us.  Really interesting, but… way too many names and dates to remember!

Here are some other random facts that our guide told us (that we actually remembered):

  • Jesus is actually born in -4BC… apparently some historian made a calculation error at some point.
  • Before the invention of the compass, people used East (also known as "the orient") to orient their sense of direction because it's where the sun rises every morning when they start their journey.  Therefore, the word "disoriented" comes from when people lost their sense of which way East was.
  • Concrete was invented by the Romans
  • Armenia was the first Christian nation... "after the king willed it so". 
  • The Armenian flag depicts the Turkish Mountain Mount Ararat with Noah's Ark sitting atop it.  Mount Ararat is the mountain where Noah landed after the flood
  • Only 3-4 million people can do a pilgrimage Mecca during Hajj, per year
  • Once a believer has done a pilgrimage to Mecca, men add the title al-Hajji to their name and women add Hajiiya.  They also hang a sign above the front door of their house to indicate that they have made the Hajj.
  • The Christmas Tree came from the Catholic Church who was trying to ease assimilation with the Wiccan religion (they believe in nature)
  • In ancient times, the seeds of the Carob Tree were thought to all be uniform in weight in size so they were often used as a standard of measure for both weights and lengths.
Jerusalem is a holy city to 3 major religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), so the various districts and streets all had unique blends of styles and cultures.
The Dome of the Rock
  • For the Jews, the Dome of the Rock is the first rock used to create the world
  • For the Muslims, the Dome of the Rock is where Mohammad ascended to heaven to talk to god and argue about how many prayers a Muslim should perform each day.  They started at 500 and settled on 5.
  • Barak (like in Barak Obama) was the name of the horse that Mohammad rode to the Dome of the Rock
Roman Ruins in the Cardo (heart of the old city).
The Wailing Wall
  • The western wall (wailing wall), is a holy place where Jewish people go to pray.  They also write wishes on pieces of paper and push them into the cracks of the wall.
  • Apparently this didn't become a significant place until 1967... after the 6 days war.  Prior to that, Israel's territory did not encompass Jerusalem
The Outer Wall