Wednesday 18th June 2014
Besides the Temple Mount, we also had a tour of the Four Quarters of the Old City. The descriptive name derives from the time of the Emperor Hadrian who had overseen the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem in the year 70AD and established in its place a Roman city. Built on a Roman plan, it had two main streets which intersected the city, giving rise to the four unequal “quarters”.
The Muslim quarter is home to the Temple Mount (see previous post). The Christian Quarter is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Latin and Greek Patriarchates. The Jewish quarter is home to the Hurva Synagogue. The Armenian Quarter is home to the Armenian Patriarchate. There are shops, markets, restaurants and homes throughout each of the quarters.
For information on the history of each of the Quarters see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_City_(Jerusalem)
For some photos from each of the Quarters see http://www.generationword.com/jerusalem101/3b-four-quarters.html
However, as well as the religious sites that are here and there throughout the Old City, each proper to one or other of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, our tour guide insisted that tourists in their rush to visit the list of sacred sites on their itinerary often overlook one reality, the people who live here. He used the last part of the following poem to make that point:
Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
And they laugh behind the heavy curtains
In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel’s Tomb and Herzl’s Tomb
And on the top of Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys
And lust over our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
In cool, blue bathrooms.
Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David’s Tower.
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side.
A group of tourists was standing around their guide
and I became their target marker.
“You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head.”
“But he’s moving, he’s moving!”
I said to myself:
“redemption will come only if their guide tells them,
‘You see that arch from the Roman period?
It’s not important:
but next to it, left down and a bit,
there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.’”
From Poems of Jerusalem by Yehuda Amichai. Tel Aviv: Schocken Publishing, 1987.
I have already posted many photos of the markets in the Old City. Here are a couple of photos from today’s tour:
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
May that day soon dawn when all the people of the Old City may live in peace and security together.
Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!