Palestine: My visit to the Old City of Jerusalem

A unique experience in this place for me was exploring the Old City which until 1860 was the city of Jerusalem in its entirety. The city is surrounded by a wall and is currently located within East Jerusalem. As I went around the wall, I was able to discover the eight gates through which it is possible to access the city. The gates are also intact since that time. The only door that remains sealed is the so called Golden Gate. Crossing one of these doors, I found myself immerse in a stone maze of narrow alleys, arches and stairways that seemed to transport me centuries ago, to a different age. From the higher parts, it is possible to see the top of houses and domes, mosques, churches and synagogues.

One thing that draws attention is to observe the military presence in the streets and cross paths with young men who carry  machine guns as if it were the most normal thing in the world (in fact here it is so!), but this is an impression that never ceases. I believe this is also due to the location of very important religious sites in this place for the three most extended monotheistic religions in the world, such as the Temple Mount and the Western Wall to the Jewish religion, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Christian religion, and the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims.

Traditionally, the Old City has been divided into four quarters, the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. The Muslim Quarter is the largest and can be accessed through the Damascus Gate, one of the more highlights in the place. Its streets are full of people and, in seconds, the Hebrew language goes to a secondary place and Arabic becomes the common language in addition to English. There are also seen dozens of street sellers and stalls full of goods, food and spices, etc.

Another thing that drew my attention living here is the sound of the bells and the murmur of prayers that are heard during the day. Muslims pray five times a day and it is not possible to forget them because at the hours of prayer, the call to pray is announced from the megaphones of many mosques, so it is heard in almost every corner of the city.

In this reduced area, where different beliefs and emotions are in conflict, Palestinians and Israelis also live together.

By Tatiana Paradiso.

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