Looking at “Promised Land” from Mt. Nebo, Jordan

We are in Jordan this week. Last few days have been full of fun and very exciting days for all of us, as well as very exhausting. Today we reached Petra just couple hours ago. Here is a picture that I took from Mt. Nebo in Jordan. This is a very sacred place for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. This is the mountain where Moses (Prophet Musa AS) brought his disciples and showed them their “Promised Land” in Jerusalem. But Moses never made it to the Promise Land. Mt. Nebo is where he died and was buried.

Enjoy this beautiful view of Dead Sea and Jordan River Valley from Mt. Nebo while I enjoy our stay in Jordan.

View of "Promised Land" - Jericho, Jerusalem, and Dead Sea from Mt. Nebo, Jordan

View of “Promised Land” from Mt. Nebo, Jordan

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Jerusalem is in my mind

JERUSALEM, PALESTINE: Visiting Jerusalem was definitely one of my best trips that we’ve taken so far, if not THE best. I never thought of going there in my life mainly for safety purposes and also because I didn’t what to see or do there other than just going inside the Dome of the Rock, pardon my ignorance. I don’t know much about the places outside Old City of Jerusalem since we mostly stayed inside the old walls. Even then I could spend days just being within the boundaries and seeing something new every day. You won’t be able to picture the hustling-bustling life of the locals or its uniquely designed mazes of streets and small neighborhoods from outside the Old City Wall. So many historical events took place within this small boundary…religiously, politically, and emotionally. Sometimes you don’t even know or notice that you are walking by something important to some religions from many centuries ago. Every corner of Old Jerusalem has something to offer to its guests…sometimes it does get overwhelming, but that’s the beauty of this place; it can make you happy, sad, angry or just leave you feeling confused with too many facts and figures. It’s a thrill to walk on some of the ancient and original streets from the Roman time, go pass the crowded markets, looking at small chapels that commemorate different phases of Passion of Jesus, and finally getting a glimpse of shininess from the Dome of the Rock every now and then.

View of Old Jerusalem and the dazzling Dome of the Rock from Mt. Olives

Outside the wall we managed to explore Mt. Zion and Mt. Olives, which are within a short walking distance from Old Jerusalem. These can be very emotional places for some visitors as well as mind-boggling. Even if you are not a believer, it’s ok…if you look at it from a historical point of view, these will still touch your heart just knowing some of the important people from the past left their legacies here.

View of Jerusalem outside the wall as seen from Temple Mount

I must say that Jerusalem is hard to get around if you are traveling with kids and stroller, like us. As much as it sounds amazing, it’s not easy to push or pull a stroller thru jam-packed markets or paths with 15/20 steps. Additionally, there are no ramps for strollers, wheel-chairs or cycles. Some of the streets are hilly and steep and really made my 6 years old very tired and exhausted, although she said she enjoyed every bit of it. Other than that, people are very helpful and friendly all around. You do have to pass thru some security points upon entering some of the places in the Old City. Try to respect the locals regardless of their faiths and culture and they will make your trip to Jerusalem very memorable with love and hospitality.

Night view of the Old city of Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock

TIME of TRAVELING: Visiting any places in Europe in January is not really enjoyable with kids and a stroller…At least for me. We went to Barcelona and Madrid during our Christmas break in 2011. After coming back from Spain, rested for couple of days, and headed out again to Jerusalem before my daughter’s school started on the 2nd week of January, 2012. It is fantastic to visit Jerusalem around this time of the year; you don’t have to deal with crazy desert weather. We did carry and use light sweaters once in a while, but the pleasant weather really helped us and the kids to make this trip more enjoyable.

OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Hotel Addar in East Jerusalem and it’s about 10 minutes’ walk from Damascus Gate of Old City Wall. If you are looking for a luxurious linens and spacious room, then this is not your place. But if you want a friendly place to stay in East Jerusalem with smiling staff and great customer service…this is just fine. Other than the free breakfast and free Wi-Fi, the receptionist hooked us up with a friendly private taxi driver who gave us a day-trip to Hebron, Bethlehem, Dead Sea, and Jericho for 1200 NIS.

EATING & SHOPPING in JERUSALEM: Eating in restaurants here is very cheap. You get good food with great quantity for a very reasonable price. We had traditional dishes for almost all our meals, like hummus, falafel, salads, and shredded meat with pocket breads. We also tried liver with bread :0, but if you haven’t had liver before DO NOT try it. You would be blown away by their falafels, doesn’t matter which size they come in…the best I tried so far. Same with baklavas…try them and you won’t forget the sweet taste of it as long as you live. Restaurants in Old City are simple yet offer tasty food. Some of them are carry-out while some have few chairs to sit down. Each quarter maintain their own ethnicity when it comes to food, meaning in Muslim quarter you will find traditional halal Arab foods, kosher dishes in Jewish Quarter, and so on.

Traditional sweets in a store in Muslim Quarter, Old Jerusalem

For shopping, Jerusalem has lots and lots of religious souvenirs and gifts that you can buy from almost any store in Old City. From cheap to most expensive wall-hangings, decorations, small furniture, and statues are very unique here. Spices, Arabian tea or coffee, dry fruits, and nuts are very cheap in these markets as well. We bought a very sophisticated looking wall-décor, hand-made in Bethlehem with mother of pearl for about 400 NIS. Whatever you buy, don’t forget to bargain. Best bet is to start with half of the price that the sales-person asks and then come to a middle point. But if you find something you really like and the sales-rep is not giving you that for the price you are asking for, I think it’s a good idea to just buy it; otherwise you may not find the same item anywhere else or even the same store once you go too far from here, because every street starts to look the same after a while.

One of the souvenir stores selling items hand-made with mother of pearls in Old Jerusalem

Tel-Aviv International Airport or Ben Gurion Airport, is probably another best place to shop. Not only this is one of the most modern and outstanding looking airports I’ve seen so far but it is also a great place for your last minute shopping. And this is the only airport with stores open 24 hours, may be not all the stores but you will see many stores are open even if you reach the airport at 2 a.m.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We spent about 4 whole days in Palestine/Israel out of which we spent 1 day to visit cities of West Bank and other 3 days were reserved solely for Old City of Jerusalem. 3 days in Jerusalem are nearly not enough time to explore the city. Seriously, there are hundreds of places to go and spend time in if you are into history or religion or just sight-seeing. Also, because Old City and its outer radius can be very crowded, walking can be tiresome at times, and in some of the places, you may feel emotionally so attached that you’d feel like spending little more time absorbing the atmosphere. Some of the places we didn’t/couldn’t visit but may be worth going are Western Wall Tunnel Tour, Oscar Schindler’s (who saved about 1200 Jews from the Nazi death camps) Tomb, Ramparts walk – Old City Wall is wide enough for visitors to actually take a walk along two sections of the ramp, and Jerusalem Free Tour, which is a free walking tour with a guide to go to the main sites of all four quarters.

Let’s all “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem” – in Garden Tomb

1) OLD JERUSALEM (within the walls): There are 8 gates to enter the Old City and you can use 7 of these gates (Golden Gate is sealed off, see below) depending on which part of the city you want to access to. These gates are (in clockwise order): New Gate – the last cut gate of the wall in 1887, Damascus Gate – most monumental, Herod’s Gate – faces East Jerusalem, St. Stephen’s Gate – also known as Lion’s Gate to go to Mt. Olives, Golden Gate – believed Messiah will enter the Temple via this gate and therefore sealed off by the Muslims in 1541, Dung Gate – provides direct access to Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, Zion Gate – gives direct access to Armenian Quarter from Mt. Zion and Jaffa Gate – in between Christian and Armenian quarters. There is no strict boundaries between these 4 quarters (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian quarters) and you may not notice when you are entering a quarter, but eventually you can figure out by looking at the sign boards, type of things the stores are selling, street decorations, and the dress-up of the locals. For safety purpose, there is no rule that Muslims shouldn’t go to Jewish Quarter or vice versa, but I did read in couple places that may be people should take some pre-cautions at night when Old City becomes very quiet. But honestly, I found people within Old City wall (doesn’t matter which religion) very friendly, helpful, and nice. They see hundreds of tourists everyday and most of them don’t really judge people by their faiths or dress-ups or anything. It’s amazing to see how three religions can live their normal lives within these boundaries without any trouble or hatred within a country which otherwise is so troubled by that.…I wish it was like that all over the world.

2 Israeli polices guarding in front of Damascus Gate in Old Jerusalem

You can cover all the sites in Old Jerusalem on foot, may be it’s little bit too much for some, but it is doable. Most of the Old City is only for pedestrians due to its small width of streets and steps. You can get a map of the Old City from your hotel or any souvenir store but walking around the narrow, winding street from one quarter to another and getting lost are half the fun here. You can’t get too lost though because of its size. But it does get hard sometimes to keep track of all the small alleys and twisty paths since they all look somewhat alike. Don’t depend on your maps all the time, sometimes tiny streets are not mentioned there; better is to look around and check street names. But overall I found that old city is simply amazing and very uniquely structured. It can get a bit hard if you are traveling with kids, especially if you have a stroller…not good at all.

One of the streets of Muslim Quarter in Old Jerusalem

a) MUSLIM QUARTER: Muslim Quarter is the largest quarter of the Old City and the most fascinating place to explore. It is also the most crowded place of Old Jerusalem. Damascus Gate, Herod’s Gate, and Lion’s Gate give easy access to the Muslim Quarter. This is an awesome place to buy Hijabs (headscarves) and abaya (ladies cloak), traditional Muslim clothes for men, decorations, wall hangings, and many other Islamic gifts items. Make sure to drink freshly squeezed orange or pomegranate juice from the street.

Little girls on Temple Mount, just got out of the Dome of the Rock after the prayer

The key attraction of Muslim Quarter is the Haram-al-Sharif or the most common name, Temple Mount; it is a Noble Sanctuary for Muslims all over the world. This is the traditional site of Solomon’s Temple and many other important historic events. Temple Mount is a vast place which houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. If you keep walking towards Herod’s gate you will find a large picnic area with lots of olive trees and there is also a small house which contains the throne of King Solomon. This part of Temple Mount is very calm and quiet, nice place to look at the nearby valleys and cities from up above.

Old ruins on Temple Mount, Old Jerusalem

Temple Mount is free to enter but it is permanently off-limit to non-Muslim visitors. There is Israeli Police at each entrance of Temple Mount who prohibits any non-Muslims from entering the place. They not only ask questions about where you are from and what you do but they will actually make you recite some verses from the Qur’an to prove that you are a Muslim. They did that to my husband to check that if he can read few lines of Sura Fatiha (the first chapter of the Holy Qur’an). You may wonder why Israeli army guards the Dome of the Rock and the simple reason is that they don’t want any Jewish or even Christians to go there and cause trouble inside. Another reason is that a very popular Jewish belief prohibited Jews to enter Temple Mount for many years and Rabbis don’t encourage Jewish to go there anyways. Dress very modestly when entering Temple Mount; there are some Muslim men who sit near the entrance to check if females have head-scarves and men are not in their shorts or sleeveless t-shirts. Wearing tight jeans is a big NO, NO for females; long top or loose abaya or long skirt is ideal for ladies.

A portion of Temple Mount, right in front of the Dome of the Rock

i) THE DOME of the ROCK: It is a remarkable Islamic architecture and the most prominent building of Old Jerusalem. According to Muslims, this marks the spot from where Prophet Muhamed (pbuh) ascended to heaven on the day of Mi’raj (Night Journey). The rock right underneath the dome is the site Muslims believe that Muhamed (pbuh) took off from on his Night Journey accompanied by Angel Gabriel. This is built in 691 and is the 3rd holiest site in Islam after Mekkah and Madina. Inside the Dome is absolutely gorgeous and very impressive. The layers of colorful mosaic, marble columns, artistic calligraphy, lavish ceramic decors, hanging-lamps, designs on the walls and ornate celling are beautiful beyond my words. There are verses from the Qur’an as well, including Sura Ya-sin and some part of Sura Maryam.

The grand and gorgeous Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, Old Jerusalem

Many people have a misconception that the Dome of the Rock is a mosque, but it is not. People can pray and recite Qur’an inside the dome but there is no regular congregational prayer whatsoever. This is where women gather for Jumu’ah (Friday congregational prayer). Do go downstairs in the natural cave under the rock to look around or to offer “nafl” or additional prayers.

Natural cave right underneath the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, Old Jerusalem

The spectacular, dazzling golden dome (with actual gold, donated by King Hussein of Jordan in 1993) is visible from far away and almost anywhere in Jerusalem. The exterior detail of the Dome of the Rock with tiles is intriguingly marvelous as well.

Lavish interior of the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, Old Jerusalem

There is no admission fee to enter the Dome of the Rock but only Muslims have access here. No visitors are allowed on Saturdays unless for prayers. Dress very modestly to enter and pray inside the Dome.

Entrance (right) and front-yard of the Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount, Old Jerusalem

ii) AL-AQSA MOSQUE: Masjid-al-Aqsa on Temple Mount was built about 20 years after the completion of Dome of the Rock. This was once the head-quarter of the Templars when Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders in the 11th century. According to Islamic tradition, this was the original site where Muslims used to face when praying before changing direction to Ka’ba in Mekkah.

It may not be as beautiful and grand as the Dome of the Rock but the inside of Al-Aqsa is spacious and nicely decorated with traditional early Islamic designs. Unfortunately it is permanently off-limits to non-Muslim visitors as it is inside the Temple Mount. During Jumu’ah (Friday prayer for Muslims) this is where men sit for the prayer. Masjid-ul Omar is located underneath Al-Aqsa.

Inside Al-Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount, Old Jerusalem

b) JEWISH QUARTER: Jewish Quarter in Old Jerusalem looks rather “newer” than rest of the Old City. It does have few somewhat-new buildings, especially near Western Wall Plaza. There are some old ruins/columns that you will see walking around in some part of Old Jerusalem. This is probably the best place to buy religious souvenirs and clothes for reasonable price for yourself or your Jewish friends and families. Dung Gate gives direct access to Jewish Quarter.

i) THE WESTERN WALL or WAILING WALL: The Western Wall is the only fragment of the Great Temple of Solomon (Prophet Sulaiman pbuh) to survive Roman destruction and the center of Jewish yearning and memory for more than 2000 years. It is the western edge of the Temple Mount and the most sacred structure for Jewish people. You can’t see the whole 488 meters/1600 ft. long Western Wall, to visit other portion of this historic wall you can take Western Wall Tunnels Tour. To go inside the fence and near Western Wall all females have to cover their heads and men have to have kippahs (provided at the entry). No shorts or sleeveless tops are allowed there and phones should be turned off to respect worshippers.

Western Wall or Wailing Wall in Jewish Quarter, Old Jerusalem – the most sacred place for all Jewish all over the world

Everyone has to pass a security gate to enter the perimeter of Western Wall, just like an airport. A tunnel that we passed after the security gate, coming from Old City, is there probably from before 8th century. This paved street is from the Roman-Byzantine period (2nd – 6th century).

The open area in front of the part of the Western Wall is known as the Western Wall Plaza. Many national events, like candle-lighting on Hanukah, Jerusalem Day ceremonies, the Priests’ Blessing, and others events, take place in this big square. There is a metal fence that separates Western Wall and its praying area from Western Wall Plaza; this is where non-Jewish visitors usually stand to visit this holy place.

Western Wall Plaza and its surrounding buildings in Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem

ii) THE CARDO: Cardo once was the main street of Jerusalem, connecting the north and south side of the Old City, from the Byzantine period in the 6th century. This is located in the heart of Jewish Quarter. There is no entrance fee. The only thing that is remaining of the old street is some original columns and a small area of paved street. Other than that Cardo is more like a covered shopping arcade at the present time.

A small of portion of Cardo, which once used to be the main street of Jerusalem in the 6th century

c) CHRISTIAN QUARTER: This is home of many churches and chapels which includes the most famous one “Church of the Holy Sepulcher” where Jesus was crucified, buried, and Resurrected. Please read the section below on “Via Dolorosa” for detailed information. Church of Holy Sepulcher is not just one church, rather a big collection of churches where each sect of Christianity has its own altar and chapel. Different parts of Holy Sepulcher are controlled and maintained by different branches of the Christian Church. You can easily spend hours exploring old religious arts and artifacts from different sects of Christianity. There is no admission fee to enter Holy Sepulcher but there are some strict dress codes that everyone needs to follow, otherwise they will turn you back. Women cannot wear anything that shows shoulders or cleavage or dresses that are too short. Head scarves are preferable; for men no shorts or sleeveless t-shirts. Dress modestly to avoid any risk. New Gate, Jaffa Gate, and Damascus Gate are the closest to enter Christian Quarter.

Church of Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter, Old Jerusalem. According to the popular belief, this is where Jesus was crucified, buried, and Resurrected.

d) ARMENIAN QUARTER: This is the smallest quarter out of the four. Armenian Quarter is also a Christian community but with distinct feel and different look. We really didn’t go inside in any landmarks here but Tower of David and St. James Cathedral are something grand and worth visiting. This quarter can easily be accessed by Jaffa or Zion gate.

e) VIA DOLOROSA: Via Dolorosa or “Way of Sorrow” is the traditional route that Jesus followed bearing his cross from Pilate’s Judgment Hall, to Calvary Hill or Golgotha, the site of crucifixion. These are winding, narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City that lead from the Ecce Homo Convent to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. The entire route is inside the Old City Wall of Jerusalem. There is no historical basis for the route since it has changed so much over the centuries. Pilgrims traditionally walk the route, identifying Jesus’ suffering. There are “Fourteen Stations of the Cross” and each station marks an event of sacred memory, with chapels for reflection, convents and monasteries of devotion, and the sacred basilica for commemoration – along Christendom’s most hallowed road.

A group of believers walking the “Way of Sorrow” or Via Dolorosa with a cross to comemorate the sufferings of Jesus near 1st station in Old Jerusalem

I’ve listed all the 14 stations and their descriptions for those who are interested:

1st station: Jesus is condemned to death. Presently it’s a college for muslim women and the left minaret “Antonia Tower” recalls the site of the Roman fortress where Jesus was condemned.

2nd station: Jesus takes up the cross. First part of this station is now Chapels of the Condemnation and Flagellation where you can see the ORIGINAL ROMAN FLOOR. Second part, the Lithostrotos, located under the Ecce Homo Convent, is a large stone pavement built by Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. Passion of Jesus begins at this spot with his condemnation and crowning with thorns. The 3rd part was originally portion of a triumphal gate (from 2nd century AD), where Pilate produced the tortured Jesus to the crowd saying, “Behold the man!”

3rd station: Jesus falls under the Cross for the first time. Here now stands a Polish chapel.

4th station: Jesus meets his mother. Tradition says that Mary stood by the roadside in order to see her son. Here, in this little Armenian Catholic chapel, her grief and sadness are remembered.

4th station – Jesus meets his mother. Now an Armenian Chapel in Old Jerusalem

5th station: Simon the Cyrenian is forced to carry the cross. The Fifth Station of the cross is marked by a Franciscan oratory at the site where the Via Dolorosa ascends steeply to Golgotha.

6th station: Veronica wipes the sweat from Jesus’ face. This site was traditionally Veronica’s house. Currently, a chapel of the convent of the Little Sisters of Jesus can be seen here.

7th station: Jesus falls for the second time. A great Roman column, housed in a Franciscan chapel, marks Jesus’ second fall, just as he was leaving the city through a gate.

8th station: Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem. The Eighth Station is marked by a Latin cross on the wall of the Greek monastery.

9th station: Jesus falls for the 3rd time. A Roman column marks the Ninth Station. Close by are the apse and roof of the Holy Sepulcher Basilica, a reminder that Jesus collapsed within sight of the place of his crucifixion.

The next five stations of the Cross are within the Basilica of Holy Sepulcher.

10th station: Jesus is stripped of his garments.

11th station: Jesus is nailed to the cross. This is the main Latin shrine, wonderfully redecorated with mosaics in 1938, marks the place where Jesus was nailed to the cross within sight of his mother.

11th Station of Via Dolorosa, where Jesus was nailed to the cross. Presently, the main Latine shrine of Holy Sepulcher in Old Jerusalem

12th station: Jesus dies on the cross. This Greek altar, ornamented in Eastern style, stands over the Rock of Calvary. It is over the place where the crosses of Jesus and the two thieves were erected. In the bed-rock, beneath is a large crack caused by an earthquake on the day Jesus died. The little altar between the main ones on Calvary is adorned with a statue in wood, fashioned in the 16th Century and sent from Lisbon in 1778. It recalls the grief of Mary and symbolizes the eternal grief of mothers at the death of their children.

12th Station of Via Dolorosa. It is here where the crosses of Jesus and the two thieves were erected. Now is the Greek altar inside Holy Sepulcher, Old Jerusalem

13th station: Jesus is taken down from the cross. Stone of the Anointment is still there for visitor to see where Jesus was put after his death.

13th Station of Via Dolorosa – Stone of the Anointment, where Jesus was put after he was taken down from the cross, Holy Sepulcher, Old Jerusalem

14th station: Jesus is laid in the tomb. This is Christendom’s most sacred place. The site of Jesus’ burial and Resurrection, housed in its own chapel. This is the focal point of the entire Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, erected by the Crusaders on Byzantine foundations, dating to the time of Constantine the Great.

The focal point of Holy Sepulcher and Christendom’s most sacred place – the site of Jesus’ burial and Resurrection, Old Jerusalem

Route of Via Dolorosa is about 0.25 km/.16 miles long. You can take guided tour for this, but I personally think buying a “Via Dolorosa Guide” for 5 NIS and doing it on your own is the best way to feel the history. This route goes thru many crowded and winding small aisles, sometimes through busy markets and neighborhoods. It was a bit hard for us to push stroller through these narrow streets, some of which had stairs without any ramps. But it is definitely worth walking this route; I am not a Christian myself, but if I could I would do it again.

2) GARDEN TOMB: While some people believe that Jesus was crucified, died, and Resurrected at the site of Church of the Holy Sepulcher, another group of believers strongly think that Garden Tomb is the actual site where Jesus died and Resurrected. It is a small garden and takes about 30 minutes or so to look around and may be more if you want to take some time to pray. Despite of its authenticity, it is a lovely place very close to Damascus Gate of Old Jerusalem and worth visiting. There is a bus station at one end of this garden and it is believed that Jesus was crucified somewhere there and his body was brought back to this garden which was owned by Joseph of Arimathea during that time. The climax of the garden, a rock-cut tomb, is said to be the burial place of Jesus and the spot of his Resurrection. An ancient winepress and an old rainwater cistern can also be seen in one section of the garden. Presently, the garden is maintained by an independent British charitable trust and they don’t charge for admission to the garden but voluntary contributions are accepted.

A natural cave in Garden Tomb where, according to one group of Christians, Jesus was buried and Resurrected in Jerusalem

3) MT. ZION: Mt. Zion is within walking distance from Zion Gate which is in the Armenian Quarter. You can still see some bullet holes on the walls of the gate from a fight in 1948 between the Israelis and the Jordanians. Arabic name of this gate is Bab el-Nabi Daud (Gate of Prophet David). We used Zion Gate to visit Mt. Zion and the 3 most important sites on this small hill. Then came down, followed the Old City Wall to go back to our hotel, about 30 minutes of walk.

View of Jerusalem from Mt. Zion

a) KING DAVID’S TOMB: After passing Church of Dormition, follow the hilly street to go a gated section. On the lower floor of a Crusader building is a small chamber housing King David’s (Prophet Daud pbuh) Tomb. There is no admission to visit the tomb, but the chamber is divided for separate viewing by men and women. The tomb is covered by a pretty drape. The women room was very small and few people can stand at a time.

Tomb of King David/Prophet Daud (AS) on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem

b) ROOM of LAST SUPPER: On the side of the same building as King David’s Tomb there are stairs to take you to the historic room of Jesus’ Last Supper. According to Christian tradition, this is the upper room in which Jesus and his disciples conducted the Passover meal – The Last Supper. There is no entrance fee to visit the chamber. The room is empty with few columns and some information boards. You can climb the stairs again to go all the way on top of the roof for a great view of the whole town and the adjacent Church of Dormition.

The room where Jesus and his disciples conducted the Passover meal – The Last Supper on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem

c) CHURCH of DORMITION: This beautiful church is believed to be the traditional site of Virgin Mary’s death. The church is very pretty inside and outside. The main prayer hall, upstairs, is spacious with mosaic floor and a nice altar. The main part of the church is downstairs where a statue of Mary rests in a crypt surrounded by images of different women from the Old Testament. This is believed to be the site where Mary lived and died after Jesus’ Resurrection. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded when we visited; therefore we could enjoy the utmost serene atmosphere of this place. There is no admission fee to enter the church.

Church of Domition on Mt. Zion where Virgin Mary lived and died after Jesus’ Resurrection in Jerusalem

4) VIRGIN MARY’S BIRTHPLACE & TOMB: Church of St. Anne stands where traditionally it is believed to be the birthplace of Virgin Mary. This is also the birthplace of Mary’s mother, Anne and the spot where Anne and Joachim, the parents of Mary, lived. This Crusader-era church was built in 1138 to replace a Byzantine church from around 450 AD. It is located very close to Lion’s Gate, right before leaving Old City walls. There is no entrance fee but donation is appreciated. The spot where Mary was born is inside a small room and is decorated very simply. You can take the stairs to go down to see more of Jesus’ traditional maternal sites.

Birth place of Virgin Mary in Church of St. Anne, Old Jerusalem

After exiting thru Lion’s Gate and walking towards Mt. Olives, Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary or Tomb of the Virgin Mary can be seen at the foot of Mt. Olives. This dimly-lit church houses the sarcophagus of Mary, mother of Jesus (Prophet Isa pbuh). Inside of Tomb of Mary is decorated with lots of hanging candle-holders and many old ornaments. The building itself is very old with a 12th century façade which is one of the best preserved buildings in Jerusalem. Make sure to check your walking map for this site as we couldn’t see the name of the church anywhere outside.

Tomb of Mary – the small door (in the middle of the picture) to go inside to view the tomb

5) MT. OLIVES: Mt. Olives can be accessed thru Old City’s Lion’s Gate. After crossing Virgin Mary’s birthplace (Church of St. Anne) and Tomb of Mary, cross the street to the foothill of Mt. of Olives. We visited the following places as we were climbing the hill. Oh, and don’t forget to look back for a great view of the old city and the golden dome. You can easily spend a full day just exploring all the sites on Mt. of Olives. Some of the places we didn’t/couldn’t go which may interest some visitors are: (1) Church of the Pater Noster, built over old ruins where Christ is believed to have taught Paternoster or Lord’s Prayer. Inside, it has tiled panels inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer in more than 130 languages. (2) Church of Mary Magdalene, which is a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church. You can see its golden shrine from far away. One thing to remember while climbing Mt. Olives is that it’s not very easy to climb the hill, especially with kids and strollers. You can take a taxi or ask locals if there is any alternate way to start from top of the hill and coming down.

Steep path to climb Mt. Olives, when you turn around you get a view of the Old City inside the wall and its dazzling dome from here

a) GETHSEMANE BASILICA of AGONY & GARDEN of GETHSEMANE: The entire area at the foot of Mt. of Olives near Tomb of Mary is known as Gethsemane. Jesus often visited this grotto and this is where he was betrayed and arrested. Gethsemane Basilica of Agony is also known as the Church of All Nations, since the present look of it is the result of contributions from 12 nations. The church has 12 domes adorned with the coat of arms of each of these countries. This is the 3rd church built on this location. This is where Jesus agonized about his death and his people; later a church was built here on these rocks in the 4th century.

Inside Gethsemane Basilica of Agony at the foothill of Mt. Olives in Jerusalem

Remember the first scene from the movie “Passion of the Christ” where Jesus was praying in a garden surrounded by hundreds of olive trees the night before he was crucified? It is that historic place, Garden of Gethsemane, where the Savior prayed before the passion. That night Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas and was arrested by the Roman soldiers. The garden is located in one side of the church right after entering thru the main entrance. This is the only surviving part of the garden that still remains from the time of Jesus. The olive trees here are more than, at least, 2000 years old, if not more. But a local was saying that they still give plenty of olives each year.

2000 years old olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed right before he was captured by the Romans

b) DOMINUS FLEVIT: This is a very well-known biblical site in Jerusalem. Dominus Flevit means “The Lord Wept”; this is where Jesus wept over the fate of Jerusalem. There is a chapel which was closed at the time of our visit. But we did go inside the gated door to check out this small hilltop. View of Kidron Valley and Old City of Jerusalem is marvelous from here. You can also see the beautiful gilded dome of a Russian Orthodox Church, Church of Mary Magdalene closely from here. There is a small collection of stone artifacts from nearby excavations and are on display in one side of Dominus Flevit.

View of the shrines of Church of Mary Magdalene from Dominus Flevit, a place where Jesus wept over the fate of Jerusalem

c) TOMB of PROPHETS: As we were walking up towards the top of Mt. of Olives, we saw a gated section, called Tombs of Prophets on our right-hand side after crossing an old Jewish cemetery. It was almost closing time, but the gentleman was nice enough to let us and another tourist in for a short visit. This is a hand-cut cave which houses tombs of 3 prophets of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism (Prophet Haggai pbuh, Malachi pbuh, and Zechariah pbuh) and their disciples (total 50 tombs) from the 5th century BC. The caretaker gave us some candles to walk around the cave since there is no electricity inside the cave and gave us brief history on those who are buried and where.

View from inside the hand-cut cave that houses tombs of Prophet Malachi, Haggai, and Zakariah in Old Jerusalem

d) MOSQUE of ASCENSION: It is located all the way on top of Mt. of Olives. It is a sacred place for both Muslims and Christians. The original medieval chapel was built around 380 AD and became part of a mosque after Saladin’s conquest in 1187. This is believed to be the site of Christ’s ascension to heaven. The mosque is usually open for daily prayers but the door of the chapel, where footprint of Jesus’ right feet is stored, was not open when we went. We tried ringing the door-bell and also calling on the phone number posted there. But the person could only open it in the morning next day during tourist hours.

Mosque Ascension on Mt.Olives in Old Jerusalem from where Jesus ascended to heaven according to Muslims

Please check out the pages on the right side-bar under Palestine/Israel. Click on Hebron, Bethlehem, Dead Sea, and Jericho to decide if you can spare a day to visit these unforgettable cities of West Bank.

Trip to Jerusalem – Part 2 – Dead Sea and Jericho

VISITING DEAD SEA & JERICHO: This is the continuation of my previous post on visiting Jerusalem.

We visited Dead Sea and Jericho on the same day as Hebron and Bethlehem, which was the part of a whole package deal we got from the private taxi we hired. This day-trip cost us about 1200 NIS with a driver who spoke excellent English and gave us all the good and necessary information on every site. That was one exhausting day as I remember now, but definitely a productive one as far as enjoying all the sites that we wanted to see.

Dead Sea – Kalia Beach from Israeli/Palestinian side

TIME OF TRAVEL: We flew to Tel-Aviv on the first week of January, 2012 from Brussels. Out of the 4 days we stayed there, we took one day out to visit some cities in West Bank. Dead Sea and Jericho were a bit colder than Hebron and Bethlehem may be because we went there late afternoon or may be because they are by the water. But overall it was a sunny day to enjoy some outdoor activities.

A camel, desert, Dead Sea on the backdrop – a perfect picture of Palestine

OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Hotel Addar in East Jerusalem, which is about 10 minutes of walk from the Damascus Gate or Jaffa gate of Old Jerusalem boundary and about 7/8 minutes of walk from Garden Tomb. Location was very nice and close to some local markets and shops. The hotel had free Wi-Fi and free good breakfast. It wasn’t all that luxurious and spacious hotel but the customer service was great. It is far from Tel-Aviv Int’l Airport (if I can remember correctly it took us about little more than 45 minutes) but our hotel arranged a taxi pick-up from the airport for a reasonable price.

EATING & SHOPPING: We had our lunch in a local street-side restaurant in Bethlehem before leaving the city. Different kinds of salad, hummus, shredded meat, pocket breads, and falafel are something you will see in almost every traditional Palestinian restaurant. I have tried falafel before in many places but nothing comes even close to the ones in Palestine.

When you are in any beach of Dead Sea, don’t forget to pick up some Dead Sea cosmetics, like black mud, bath salt, cream, lotion, musk, face wash, and other good stuff. They are not very expensive and sometimes you get good deals like if you buy two items you get one for free.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: After leaving Bethlehem, our next destination was Dead Sea – Kalia Beach. The drive on Highway-1 was absolutely bold and beautiful. The sun wasn’t too strong in the late afternoon, which filled the mountains and desert with warm glow. While on Highway-1, it was unique to see few Bedouin settlements on rugged mountains near Dead Sea, camels decorated in gorgeous cloaks, and marvelous long stretch of painted desert on both sides of the road.

Palestinian Bedouin settlements on desert on our way to Dead Sea

1) DEAD SEA (KALIA BEACH): We reached Kalia Beach around 3-3:30 pm. It was a fantastic spot to enjoy Dead Sea. You have to pay 47 NIS entrance fee if you want to go swimming (rather floating) in the water. Our taxi driver spoke to the ticketing guy and told that we were there just to take some pictures and spend few minutes near water; so we just got in for free. We weren’t prepared to go swimming. So, we stayed mostly on the beach taking some pictures, putting some Dead Sea mud on our hands and legs, looking at Jordan on the other side, and watching others float on their backs in the lake. This is truly a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert and a must-see place in Israel/Palestine.

Dead Sea – Kalia Beach, Jordan on the other side

Talking about lake, yes, Dead Sea is not actually a sea; it is the deepest landlocked salty lake in the world. Interestingly, it is also the lowest point on earth at 423 meters below sea level. It is called Dead Sea because no sea creature can survive in this water, except some single cell bacteria. For safety purposes, don’t try to swim in the water…people actually die every year when they try to go for regular swimming in Dead Sea. For the high concentration of salt here, you can literally float on your back without sinking. Another fun fact is that, Dead Sea is also known as Nature’s spa. The minerals of this water can treat diseases like psoriasis and osteoarthritis. The mud is also used as natural musk. It feels very slippery when you touch the water, it leaves whole bunch of salts and minerals on your hands or body after drying…pretty cool. We saw people covered with mud all over their body on the beach…well, sure, why not use nature’s free musk when in vacation?

People floating on their back in Dead Sea

2) JERICHO: Located in West Bank, Jericho is supposedly the OLDEST inhabited town in the world and the most excavated site in Palestine after Jerusalem. This is really a beautiful rich oasis (258 meters/846 ft. below sea level) of greenery in a desert landscape near Dead Sea in Jordan Valley. We couldn’t visit another historical place of Jericho, Hisham’s Palace, properly since it was way too dark by then. But we did stop and managed to take some pictures of the old ruins of the palace. Another famous site here which we didn’t go is Tell-es-Sultana where you can see ruins that date back to 9000 BC. This is where the earliest settlement was located and is just a couple of km from the current city.

Mountains of Jericho overlooking Jordan Valley

a) FAMOUS SYCAMORE FIG TREE of JERICHO: This is a 2000 year old fig tree which has been standing there since the time of Jesus (pbuh). The story goes that a corrupted tax-collector name Zakariyah, who was a very short man, climbed this tree to see Jesus when he was coming to Jericho from Egypt on his way to Jerusalem. Thanks to our driver who told us about the history, otherwise one can just pass-by this tree without knowing the history behind it. Coincidentally, this biblical story was told at my daughter’s school just before the Christmas break which she could recollect and confirm the driver’s version. It was my 6 years-old who remembered that the tax-collector’s name was Zakariyah.One way to recognize it is that the tree is surrounded by a metal fence, but I didn’t see any board or anything with any information.

The 2000 year old Sycamore fig tree of Jericho

b) MOUNT of TEMPTATION: This is another biblical site and a well-known place for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Jesus (pbuh) spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting, meditating, and fighting Satan in a cave of this mountain. The cave, which is now a monastery, can be accessed by cable car. Cable car service closes around 5/6 pm; so, we couldn’t go up to the mountain. But the summit of the mount (360 meters above sea level) offers a spectacular 360 degree view of the town along with nearby hills, Dead Sea, and Jordan Valley.

Mount of Temptation in Jericho

c) TOMB of MOSES in NABI MUSA MOSQUE and MAQAM: Tomb of Moses is not really in Jericho, rather about 20-25 minutes’ drive from there. The mosque, on the site of the tomb, was constructed in 1270 A.D. By the time we reached there, it was already very dark and there was no visitor in the mosque. The care-takers were kind enough to open the door for us and let us in for a short visit. The mosque was simple inside but I loved the big inner courtyard which we passed to go to the other side of the mosque to see tomb of Moses. The tomb was covered with beautiful velvet sheet with nice Arabic calligraphy and designs.

Tomb of Moses (pbuh) in Nabi Musa Mosque and Maqam in Jericho

Trip to Jerusalem – Part 1 – Hebron and Bethlehem in West Bank

VISITING HEBRON & BETHLEHEM: Visiting these two cities during our trip to Palestine/Israel was something that will stay in my mind as long as I live. This is the feeling of excitement, nervousness, adventure, sadness, happiness which you don’t get anywhere else in the world. I won’t lie, I was a bit scared/nervous about our whole Jerusalem trip, especially with our 2 little girls. It’s just, I didn’t know what to expect there…reactions from the locals, political situations and etc etc etc. But once I set my foot there, I thought to myself “everything will be fine” and luckily everything was fine. Jerusalem is not really a perfect dream destination for many people; for lots of travelers, it’s not even in their bucket list. Even if not for religious purposes but for the love of history and culture, I think this place should be visited by every Muslim, Christian, Jew or even an atheist. It can be a bit overwhelming with all the information and knowledge you gather from this historical holy land but at the end of the day this place leaves you with hundreds of questions and thoughts in your mind.

A modern day donkey-rider on the street of Bethlehem

I was being a bit lazy on uploading posts on our Jerusalem trip, only because there are soooooooooo many places to visit and so many things to do here. But I was going thru our photo albums from this trip recently and just suddenly made up my mind that I have to let people know about this amazing country, its cities, people, and everything else. So, this is my first post on our memorable trip to Jerusalem. Next one is on Jericho and Dead Sea and the final one is the most important and the longest one…Old Jerusalem.

TIME OF TRAVEL: We flew to Tel-Aviv on the first week of January, 2012 from Brussels. I was so excited for this particular trip that the long journey or reaching in Tel-Aviv at something like 2 a.m. in the morning with kids didn’t bother me too much. As for the weather, it was a perfect time to visit Palestine, I thought. It was a bit chilly (a light sweater or fleece was ok for us) but at least didn’t get any crazy desert-heat wave.

OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Hotel Addar in East Jerusalem, which is about 10 minutes of walk from the Damascus Gate or Jaffa gate of Old Jerusalem boundary and about 7/8 minutes of walk from Garden Tomb. Location was very nice and close to some local markets and shops. The hotel had free Wi-Fi and free good breakfast. It wasn’t all that luxurious and spacious hotel but the customer service was simply awesome. It is far from Tel-Aviv Int’l Airport (if I can remember correctly it took us about little more than 45 minutes) but our hotel arranged a taxi pick-up from the airport for a reasonable price. They also arranged a private one-day trip to Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Dead Sea.

EATING & SHOPPING: We had our lunch in a local street-side restaurant in Bethlehem. We had some kebabs, salad, hummus, pocket breads, and falafels in Old Jerusalem in couple of our meals, but they are so good that we really didn’t get tired of them. So, we decided to go with the traditional meal again (another reason is because we really didn’t see any diverse cuisine options in Bethlehem).

Lunch in Bethlehem – salads, hummus, shredded chicken, pocket breads, and falafel

Old Hebron would be a nice place to buy some local souvenirs, but 99% of the stores there were closed during our little visit there. I’ve heard Hebron glasses are something famous there, which we didn’t see anywhere. We ended up buying some key rings and bracelets with Palestinian flags from some local teen age boys. You can bargain with them for a better deal, but when you look at their faces and know their situations you really don’t feel like bargaining. Instead, giving them some extra money would be something they would really appreciate.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: As I mentioned above, we rented a private taxi for a whole day (which our hotel managed for us) to visit Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Dead Sea (Kalia Beach). The whole trip cost us about 1200 NIS. The taxi drive spoke very good English and gave us all the history and necessary insights on all the places. I would recommend going to these places with someone local or tourist groups; entering these cities with your own car can be risky and hassle if you don’t know all the ins and outs. There are few check-points that we had to pass thru when leaving Jerusalem and entering each of these cities. Some of these cities are controlled by Muslims and Israelis aren’t allowed for safety purpose and some are Israeli controlled territories and not very safe for Muslims.

1) HEBRON: Hebron is about less than an hour drive from Jerusalem located in the southern West Bank. This was the capital of the Israelite state for a short time during King David’s era. The city is also known as City of Patriarchs. This is the 4th holiest site for Muslims after Mekkah, Madina, and Jerusalem and the 2nd holiest place for Jewish after Jerusalem. There is no modernization or development in this part of West Bank and the current situation of the country has made this place a ghost city. We really didn’t see any big buildings or any modern architecture while driving thru the city but saw many kids running and playing in the streets, which made me think about their unpredictable lives, if they actually go to schools, or how many family members have they lost so far in wars, fights, and attacks.

Streets of Hebron, on our way to Cave of Patriarchs

When we were driving toward Hebron, we saw an Israeli army or may be a civilian with a rifle gun guarding his family on the road side while someone else was fixing their car. We asked our taxi driver why the man had rifle in his hand and seemed like he was ready to shoot someone. Driver’s response was, since that was a Jewish family and they are in a Muslim territory…they are just always alert for the safety of their family. And you will see a similar site when a Muslim family is stuck in a Jewish community. It left me thinking, the unpredictable life that they and their family, kids live everyday. I can’t even imagine a life like this for our daughters. Thanks to almighty that we are so lucky…so lucky just to have a safe shelter, supposedly a safe community, good education system, and lots more for our kids’ better present and future.

One of the check-points of Israeli army outside Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron

a) OLD HEBRON: We had to pass thru the old part of Hebron to go to our final destination, Ibrahimi Mosque. We walked thru an old market passage before entering the mosque. Most of the stores here were closed (may be for the afternoon prayer) and looked very dead and colorless. Given the situation of this town, the face of this place really has a depressing look which leaves many mix feelings in one’s mind.

Bazaar in old Hebron – no development or modernization in this part of the country

b) IBRAHIMI MOSQUE or CAVE of PATRIARCHS: This is the main attraction and probably the single most important reason for Muslims, Christians, and Jews to visit Hebron. This is located in the old part of the city. It is kind of intimidating to see Israeli/Palestinian armies guarding the outer territory of the mosque. Visitors have to pass through couple of gates and a security controlled check-point to enter the mosque. There are 2 entrances to the mosque: one for the Jews and one for the Muslims. Non-Muslim visitors are also allowed to visit the mosque but it is usually via the doorway for Muslims. All female visitors must wear scarf and a long skirt or cloak to cover up before going inside, which you can find near the entrance.

Inside Ibrahimi Mosque or Cave of Patriachs in Hebron

This is the historical place where the father of 3 major monotheist religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham (AS), was buried and his tomb is located in a small room inside the mosque which can be seen through a window. Jews can look at the same tomb from the other side of the room which is a part of a synagogue. Other than Prophet Ibrahim (AS)’s tomb, the mosque houses tomb of Sarah (AS) – 1st wife of Ibrahim (AS) and mother of Ishaq (AS) (Isaac), tomb of Ishaq (AS), tomb of Rukaiya (AS) (Rebekah) – wife of Ishaq (AS) (Isaac). There is also a spot which is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Adam (AS) and finally, a remarkable footprint of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). This is truly an overwhelmingly emotional place for these three religions. It takes you back in time to those important eras of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The mosque itself is simple with some Islamic calligraphy but all the tombs are covered nicely with colorful cloaks with Arabic writings.

Tomb of Abraham/Ibrahim (AS) inside Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron

Other than these two sites, tomb of Prophet Lot is also located in Hebron, which is about 4/5 miles away from Cave of Patriarchs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go there for time restriction. But if you are interested in visiting the biblical sites, that should be somewhere worth going.

2) BETHLEHEM: After visiting Hebron, our next destination was Bethlehem, another city in West Bank, which was about another 45 minutes to an hour drive. If you go from Jerusalem, the drive is a lot shorter. Bethlehem is in an “Area A” zone which is administered by the Palestinian Authority. The road to Bethlehem from Hebron is very pretty. The rugged terrain and deserted hills continue even after you enter the city. Bethlehem is not as calm and quiet as Hebron. Many Muslim and non-Muslim tourists come here for the soul purpose of visiting the birth place of Jesus/Isa (AS). Another important site in the outskirt of Bethlehem is the tomb of Rachel which we couldn’t visit. Rachel was the wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and her tomb is a holy site in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

A friendly reminder before entering Bethlehem

a) MOSQUE of OMAR: This is a significant and historical mosque for the Muslims in the main square of Bethlehem called Manger Square. Inside of the mosque is simple yet beautiful. The history goes that, in 637 A.D. when 2nd Caliph Omar (RA) conquered Bethlehem, he promised the Church of Nativity for the Christians. Instead he prayed in a place next to the church, which stands today as Mosque of Omar.

Mosque of Omar in Bethlehem’s main square, Manger Square

b) CHURCH OF NATIVITY: It is that historic place, where Jesus was born hundreds of years ago which used to be a stable during his birth. The church is heavily decorated with many ornaments, statues, and big hanging candle-holders/chandeliers. It is very crowded once you are inside the church. Make sure you have enough time to spare here because you will be standing in the line for a while to go into the basement to see the exact spot (marked with a star) of Jesus’s birth and where he was laid after he was born. Luckily, our driver knew people who got us in without standing in the line…phew. Be careful if you are traveling with kids, there are lots of pushing and pulling to go downstairs, since some people get really emotional and want to touch and pray near the star-marked place.

The star marks the exact spot of Jesus’s birth. This was a stable when he was born, now a church in Bethlehem, called Church of Nativity

The church is located also in Manger Square and there is no fee to enter the church or to visit Jesus’s birth place.

Big chandeliers of Church of Nativity in Bethlehem

Winter 2011 Trips – Spain and Israel

Yayyyy, finally the days are almost here to travel again. I guess, I am getting a bit spoiled by now by going to new places every month. Who wouldn’t? Its becoming a habit exploring a new country, new cities every few weeks now a days. Man, living in Europe totally rocks.

Anyways, Christmas holiday is almost here, about a week left. My daughter’s school will be closed from the 23rd of December. But luckily her holiday starts 2 days earlier than other kids. Since, it will be very cold up north, we are going down south during this season. South as in Spain. We will only visit 2 cities of Spain this time… Barcelona and Madrid. I am not really feeling anything about this trip, not excited, nor sad. Just happy that we will get out of the house and will live in hotel for 10 days 🙂 I guess, I shouldn’t say I am not excited at all. I am excited to see the Christmas and New Year in Spain. I’ve heard the winter decoration, Christmas markets are gorgeous in Spain, especially in Madrid and Barcelona. Also, I am excited about trying out some Spanish food…haven’t had any before. I am sure Mexican food tastes way different than Spanish food. Well, as I am writing this blog, I am getting very excited about this trip… now that I think about it, its a whole new country with new food, culture, places, and history, I don’t need anything more to get me rolling.

After coming back from Spain, we will be leaving for Israel within 2 days. Now, this trip is totally giving me a thrill. Seriously, I consider myself to be very lucky to be able to go to a country like Israel, which is the birthplace for 3 major monotheistic religions. It gives me goosebumps thinking that I will get to visit Jerusalem to see the birthday place of Jesus , Dome of the Rock, Masjid-ul-Aqsa (the 3rd holiest place for the Muslims after Mecca and Medina), Prophet David (AS)’s tomb and many other sites like these. For some reason, I am very excited about shopping in Israel… I think countries like these have unique things to offer, which are very unlikely to get anywhere else in the world. So, let’s see. Just one concern is that since Old City of Jerusalem is such an ancient city, I fear that it won’t be a kid/stroller friendly city. Hopefully my kids can enjoy as much as we do and make this journey easy for all of us.

English: Jerusalem, Dome of the Rock Deutsch: ...

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