Sunday, 5 June 2011

Jerusalem and Bethlehem - the holy land?

At afternoon (04.06.) we arrived in Jerusalem. Our hotel was located within the arab quarter next to Herods gate. Right away we chose to stroll through the narrow streets of Jerusalem's old city. Meeting several police men and soldiers on our way, the first encounter Israel - Palestinian conflict came upon us... a group of Palestinian kids probably thought we were Israelis and after we passed them one of them spit at me from behind - coward :P. An elder Palastinian saw it, apologized and chided the kids. Then the other kids punished the spitter... somehow I didn't really know how to properly react in that situation. But it shows how the kids are influenced by the hatred of the parents, but are unable to hold it in.
Next we went along the Via Dolorosa to the church of the Holy Sepulchre (Grabeskirche). A calm and holy atmosphere inside. The next day we woke up early and made our way straight to the temple mount, visiting the Western Wall (Klagemauer), Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the rock. Infamous places, holy pilgrimage sites... but filled with tension. That leaves quite a strange feeling. We then made our way to the mount of olives, which offered a great view over Jerusalem and is place of the ascension. Down the hill the Garden of Gethsename - the place where Judas betrayed Jesus. And next to it the tomb of Maria.
A taxi driver then took us to Bethlehem. The entry towards the Palestinian territory (West Bank) by taxi was pretty easy, they didnt even want to see our passports. A visit to the Church of the Nativity (Geburtskirche), the place where Jesus was born. Next we enjoyed a fine lunch before driving along the West Bank wall. Quite a terrifying wall. On the way back to Jerusalem we saw the continue of wall building, the new one is 12m - not only 9. And new Israeli settlements to surround Jerusalem.
Back in Jerusalem we visited the Mount Zion, where Maria died and King David as well as Oskar Schindler are burried. We finished our day walking through the city centre. The next day we drove towards northern Israel.

Dome of the rock at Temple Mount

View over Jerusalem from Mount of Olives

Place of Jesus' crib within the church of nativity

Bethlehem checkpoint, the West Bank wall

Church of the Dormition at Mount Zion

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