In The City Of God

After a week of R&R in sunny Tel Aviv I set my sights eastwards towards Jerusalem. I had recently finished reading Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Montefiore and my interest was peaked. Jerusalem had been the centre of the world at points, and the events that took place in that city have touched on almost every society on Earth, and I had to go at least once.

Now, I’m not a religious person, well I suppose I have Alfa Romeo, but really god is not my thing. But I am interested in history so I was looking forward to a few days in the religious capital of the world. I left Tel Aviv on a Saturday afternoon, while the country was quiet for Shabbat, and headed out to Jerusalem to stay with a friend.

Arriving in Jerusalem in the early evening.

Arriving in Jerusalem in the early evening.

I met up with my friend Yair in the early evening and we walked around a little until the end of Shabbat, when the restaurants opened up again. In Jerusalem people are a lot more serious about those sort of rules than people are in Tel Aviv.

_IGP0074

St Andrews Church of The Church of Scotland, Jerusalem.

_IGP0072

Looking towards Palestine and the wall.

Looking towards Palestine and the wall.

A quiet evening scene at the end of Shabbat.

A quiet evening scene at the end of Shabbat.

A C3 Corvette in Jerusalem.

A C3 Corvette in Jerusalem.

After a good dinner and a night’s rest I set out to take in the city in the morning. I was alone and my main goal for the day was to see the Church Of The Holy Sepulchre, which is the holiest site in Christianity, the religion in which I was raised. In fact, I attended more than 12 years of religious education, but it didn’t rub off. I usually feel a bit uneasy when trespassing in the religious sites of “The Other” but Christianity was the religion that forced itself into my life by the hands of the Pious. It has its good points, and I suppose it’s rather pretty, but it did try to sabotage my mind as a child, so the Pious will have to forgive my intrusion with my camera, it’s only fair I think.

I arrived at the city gates after a lazy stroll through the beautiful park which separates the Old City from the modern West Jerusalem. I was instantly approached by the tourist touts that I had almost forgot existed, last really seeing them in Tanzania. They thought I was a religious tourist from America or something, so most of what they were selling was not interesting at all. I usually pretend to speak only German in these encounters, or just wait until they turn away for a second and make a run for it.

_IGP0098

Across the park to Jaffa Gate.

_IGP0094

Mount Zion from a distance.

_IGP0095

The Tower of David, near Jaffa Gate.

I found my way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (without a guide thank you very much) and found it down a little alley. There is a small square outside where the main door is located, which was full of pilgrims from all over the world.

The Sepulchre.

The Sepulchre.

The door to the church.

The door to the church.

Tourists outside the church.

Tourists outside the church.

_IGP0111

_IGP0121

_IGP0125

The immovable ladder.

The immovable ladder.

Inside the church things were a little strange. The church is laid out in a weird way that you can never really tell how large the building is, or where you are. It’s always full of religious devotees crying on the anointing stone or trying to reach the Rock of Calvary, but it’s also full of tourists dressed for Disney Land instead of a holy site. Even I bothered to dress up a little to show respect, but it seems the average pilgrim is not to bothered about it. They’re also quite noisy and chatty and do a lot of flash photography. But beyond the pilgrims the site is fascinating.

Pilgrims put trinkets on The Anointing Stone.

Pilgrims put trinkets on The Anointing Stone.

The Chapel above The Rock of Calvary, where the Cross stood. The people are trying to reach through the floor to the Rock of Calvary.

The Chapel above The Rock of Calvary, where the Cross stood. The people are trying to reach through the floor to the Rock of Calvary.

_IGP0142

_IGP0147

_IGP0170

_IGP0171

_IGP0193

_IGP0187

_IGP0152

_IGP0194

_IGP0177

_IGP0155

_IGP0182

_IGP0181

_IGP0175

_IGP0186

I had arrived in Jerusalem at a tense time. The Temple Mount was closed to the public, after a stabbing incident a few days before I arrived. I am interested in history but the central theme in Jerusalem is religion, which I just don’t get, so much of it was lost on me I’m afraid.

The weather had become rather gloomy and I felt I was developing Reverse-Jerusalem Syndrome. The more time I spent there the more silly I found religion, and it was impossible to escape it in the city. As interesting as Jerusalem is, I was eager to return to Tel Aviv where life was light-hearted and relaxed. Perhaps I’ll return to Jerusalem one day, and with company and better weather maybe I’ll find it a little more cheery.

_IGP0199

_IGP0208

_IGP0250

_IGP0215

_IGP0225

_IGP0232

_IGP0282

_IGP0299

_IGP0304

 

 

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: