Friday, July 9, 2010

Return to the Old City

Yesterday afternoon Claire, Lauren and I went to the Old city. We rode the city bus it was my first time on one of the Egged buses. The bus was packed and more people kept getting on at each stop. We actually missed the stop by Damascus gate but it ended up working out okay. Instead we entered the city by the New Gate which hardly any tourists ever see. The area around the New Gate is a residential area I can't imagine what it would be like living inside the old city walls.

We returned to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre since Lauren had never seen it. This time some of my pictures from inside turned out. But first I'd like to tell you about another one of the arguments between the Christian sects that control parts of the Church. This one is equally baffling to me.
These stairs are another point of argument. The door to the church is just off the left side of the picture. You can see these stairs in my picture from last week. The plaza area in front of the church is controlled by the Greek Orthodox monks. Those stairs lead up to the Ethiopian monastery but the Armenian Orthodox church controls the stair case.

Here is a close up of the stairs look at where their feet are resting on the bottom row. Now ask yourself this question is that a stair or is it part of the plaza? Yes that is what the argument is about. Everyday when they are cleaning they meet at this spot and argue over who gets to clean it. The hostility is so bad between the Christian sects that the keys to the church are kept by a local Muslim family. The family comes twice a day to lock and unlock the church. I still can't believe the lack of cooperation in this church. Each sect has their own little chapel areas walking through yesterday I noticed some church pews stacked on top of each other they were chained together and then chained to a column. I guess whoever they belonged to was worried someone else was going to take them?

This is just inside the door of the church. Tradition says that this rock slab is were Jesus body was laid out to be prepared for burial. Well maybe there is a story circulating that about 300 years ago the rock got a huge crack in it and they replaced it. I don't know if its true or not. Unfortunately my pictures of the spot they believe the cross was placed did not turn out. Its just up a steep set of stairs to the right of this picture. The lighting up there is odd and there are a lot of gold covered objects that reflect strangely in the pictures and make them blurry. I'll try again the next time I'm there.

The site of the cross is upstairs from this spot. Above the table you see a window showing you a rock with a crack in it. Tradition says when Jesus was on the cross the ground split open and his blood ran down through the crack. The stone under the table is suppose to cover Adam's grave Jesus' blood soaked Adam's bones and cleansed him of sin.

Here is what I know you have been wanting to see this is the Sepulchre itself. Inside this structure is where Jesus was buried. This is the view from the side so you can get an idea of its size. You can also see the long line of tourists waiting to go in. The tomb itself is very small and only five people can go in at a time.

Here is the front of the Sepulchre above the arched doorway there are paintings of the apostles. I have no pictures of the inside of the tomb. It just didn't feel right to take pictures in there.

This is the dome ceiling about the Sepulchre. It looks like the rays of the sun. It allows sunlight to shine down on the top of the Sepulchre.

Here is the dome ceiling in one of the chapels I'm not sure who owns this particular chapel. However you might recognize this painting of Jesus its pretty famous.

This was a nice surprise outside of Jaffa gate there was a craft fair going on. They had the area blocked off so you had to have security check your bag before you could enter.

Nice music to listen to while you shop. As we were walking around we kept hearing a pitiful meows from cats but we couldn't find cats anywhere. It turned out that there wasn't a cat at all. One of the stands was selling cat whistles and all the kids had them and that's why we were hearing cats everywhere. I didn't even know cat whistles existed.

This was the best stand at the craft fair. Puppets and tiny finger puppets! Aren't they adorable?


  1. I think your Christmas shopping is officially taken care of. Cat whistles for everyone! ^_^

    I hope you got some neat local crafts. Craft fairs are the best!

    We studied that painting of Jesus in my Art History class!

    Thanks for posting the pictures of those stairs! You told me about it on Skype, but it was great to really see it. It's pretty crazy when you can't even let someone within the church keep the keys.

    Another wonderful entry! Thanks again for sharing! And good luck with your homework!

  2. Fascinating. Thanks so much.

    Wonder how they divvy up fixing the roof?

  3. What a treat reading about your first ride on the egg shaped bus and a return to the Old City. Interesting story. about the plaza and the stairs in front of The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I assume the Ethiopian Monastery must have another entrance exclusive for their use otherwise the locked door would be a problem. It seems almost unbelievable that hostile remarks would be exchanged regarding this step when it comes to cleaning.

    Your pictures of the Holy Sepulchre and the dome ceiling above that let in the sun rays are beautiful. The famous painting of Jesus is incredible and I believe you when you mention it doesn't do it justice. One can only imagine what you felt when you looked up the first time. Revisiting this church would never get old.

    In my mind I was strolling through the craft fair listening to the live music and cat whistles with you. The picture of the puppet and finger puppet stand was so bright colorful and cheery. It makes me smile just seeing them.


  4. Did you see the Coptic sect's chapel that is supposedly at the head of Christ on the other side of the Greek Orthodox's chapel. I thought that was interesting.

    I'm enjoying reading your blog.


  5. What fun to see the city through your 'eyes' and learn what your experiences are like. You've opened up a whole new world for us. Thank you for taking the time to put so much in for us to 'see'!
    I've seen that picture of Jesus all my life but never knew where it was from. I loved learning about the steps. It shows that people are the same the world over and that some people didn't really learn the lesson about sharing from 1st grade!
    But you did, didn't you? Thank you for sharing with us!