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Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem
December 20th 2006
Published: December 25th 2006
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Wailing WallWailing WallWailing Wall

Women praying at the Western Wall, which is all that remains of the Second Temple. Written prayers are stuck into the crevices.
Well it's that time of year when one pigs out and gets merrily pissed. I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year to all my family, friends, workmates, fellow travellers and bloggers.

It kind of felt appropriate that I spent the lead-up to the holiday season in the Holy Land.

I loved walking around the different quarters (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Armenian) in the Old City of Jerusalem. Most of the religious activity centres around the Temple Mount area where the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock are located.

Also took a trip into Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. It was eerily quiet with nary a tourist in sight. Normally there would be heaps at this time of year. Possibly people have been scared away by the huge security fence that separates the West Bank from Israel, or the recent Lebanon conflict, or the current Palestinian political infighting including the assassination attempt on the Hamas president last week and the unrest in Gaza this week. I hope it picks up for Xmas or else the residents will really be doing it tough. I read somewhere that 51.5% of Palestinian households live below

At an underground section of the Western Wall Tunnels next to a menorah (candles lit for Hanukka)
the poverty line.

I have felt nothing but safe travelling in Israel, and had a fantastic time visiting this country.

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 22


Wilsons ArchWilsons Arch
Wilsons Arch

Another underground section of the Western Walls, where only the men are allowed to pray next to. The women pray in a separate section overlooking this chamber.
Western Wall tunnelsWestern Wall tunnels
Western Wall tunnels

Located under the Muslim Quarter
Bar MitzvahBar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah

Commonly celebrated at the Western Wall
Rooftops of the Old CityRooftops of the Old City
Rooftops of the Old City

The Muslim Quarter looking back to the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the RockDome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock

The 3rd holiest Muslim site in the world. Non-muslims are not allowed to enter. Only the women are allowed inside to pray. The men pray at a separate mosque in the same complex (al-Aqsa), and are only permitted to visit the Dome at certain times for a look-see.
Arab souqArab souq
Arab souq

Feels like being back in Syria or Turkey, but it's actually the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Walking towards the Tower of David
Dead Sea ScrollsDead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls

Located in the Israel Museum. First known Hebrew Bible written by a monastic Jewish sect called the Essenes.
Crown of ThornsCrown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns

In the Chapel of the Flagellation where Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion
Priests and NunPriests and Nun
Priests and Nun

Courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus' crucifixion
Marble slabMarble slab
Marble slab

Where Jesus' body was supposedly annointed before he was buried
Holy SepulchreHoly Sepulchre
Holy Sepulchre

Pilgrims lining up to get inside Jesus' tomb, with a priest guarding the entrance. The 12 apostles and Jesus look down from above.
Jesus' tombJesus' tomb
Jesus' tomb

The marble slab covers the rock on which Jesus' body was laid.
Manger Square, Bethlehem Manger Square, Bethlehem
Manger Square, Bethlehem

Where are all the pilgrims?

The most surreal experience when 2 Santas showed up in the Grotto of the Nativity where the baby Jesus was born
X marks the spotX marks the spot
X marks the spot

Where the baby Jesus was born. The 14 points of the silver star represent the 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa (Path of Sorrow)
Security FenceSecurity Fence
Security Fence

Security checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank
What were they thinking?What were they thinking?
What were they thinking?

Demonstrations like this do nothing more than inflame the situation.

28th December 2006

Happy Xmas Gus
Have enjoyed catching up with your travels again this morning - hope you had a great Xmas wherever the hell you where!!! Louise

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