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18 June 2012

Day One in Jerusalem

Arrived at Ben Gurion Airport late at night so there wasn't much to see. 

Next morning, however, this is the first thing I saw when I looked out of my window:

This is the common/dining room at the Abraham Hostel

I am staying at Abraham Hostel, a fairly new and very comfortable backpackers' on Davidka Square. The first thing I found on leaving the building was this monument:

Wikipedia says: The Davidka (Hebrew: דוידקה, "Little David") was a homemade Israeli mortar used in Safed and Jerusalem during the early stages of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Its bombs were reported to be extremely loud, but very inaccurate. There were only six made altogether. The inscription "וגנותי על-העיר הזאת, להושיעה" is from 2 Kings 29:34, meaning "For I will defend this city, to save it." Jerusalem seems to be a very relaxed and peaceful city – well, while I've been here, anyway, but this may be because there are plenty of people with guns around to protect the populace. I have counted five different uniforms – army, police, security forces, but somebody told me there are about ten different security organisations. In Jerusalem they check your bags as you enter the shop.

Tourists in Jerusalem make for the Old City, but not all tourists are lucky enough to have a local friend to show them around as I did. Here are some of the things I saw. (For the photographically curious I am using a five year old Kodak Easyshare camera which is getting temperamental about exposures and gets upset if it can't focus on something really obvious).

I am not a good tourist. I don't spend a shekel more than I have to (even when a shekel is only worth a bit more than about 25 cents as it is now). But it's great fun looking at all the pretty things I could buy if I wanted to.

Plenty of splendid souvenirs to buy.

Even historic old cities need fire hydrants and garbage collectors

Via Dolorosa

At the end of the Via Dolorosa you reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which encloses Calvary and the tomb of Christ.
Entrance to Church of Holy Sepulchre

The view from Calvary in 2012

 A stone symbolising the anointing of Christ's body was placed
here in 1810; pilgrims rub oil on it to obtain blessing

Candlesticks (most with modern power-saving electric light globes),
at the entrance to the Sepulchre

 I loved the mixture of light sources and the general ambience,
but my camera didn't always agree. To the right are steps down
to the crypt of St Helena

Somebody on a horse killing something. My pragmatic Hebrew
friend couldn't see why evil/Satan etc should be symbolised as
a serpent or what serpents have to do with dragons, which she
rather likes

Having been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, the Church
includes a variety of architectural styles. Here a byzantine arch has
been reinforced by a crusader one

Lots of Crusader graffiti on the steps to the crypt where St
Helena identified the site of Christ's tomb

the Coptic chapel

 Having climbed hills and descended into crypts it was time to get a view of the Old City from the tower of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. This involved a lot of steps up a spiral staircase. My friend thought I should take a photo, so I did.

shadows on the stairs
 It was worth the climb.

Mount of Olives and the Dome of the Rock

Modern communications in an old city

And, to finish, the compulsory Cute Cat photo

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