Jerusalem – Where the Millennium Began Counting
Magic Carpet Journals Travels to Jerusalem, Where the Millenium began its count.
Discovering what lies within the old walled city, Jerusalem holds a fascination unlike any other city on earth. The city itself has a 4,000-year history, shared by many powers of the old world and three major religions whose traditions have carried down through the centuries.
The Tower of David Museum tells the history of the city in Israel from within the restored remains of King Herod’s 2,000 year old Citadel. For many centuries this Citadel, built atop Mount Zion ridge, guarded the main western entrance to the walled-city. As the city was conquered and reconquered, fortifications were built and rebuilt on that same site.
Today, one can walk in the museum’s archeological gardens and see the ruins left behind by the many conquerors of Jerusalem. The Romans, Greeks, Crusaders, Moslems, Turks, Canaanites, Hebrews and Israelis all left their mark on this city. Here, one can see how the city became so important to three major religious traditions, each sharing some of their history and origin within the walls of the Old City. The Citadel towers afford a panoramic view of the historic part of Jerusalem.
While people know that each religion revered Jerusalem as one of the most holy places on earth, they may not realize, until they actually walk the streets of the Old City, how closely entwined these holy sites really are. The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is the only existing wall of the Second Temple. It is considered to be the most holy place by Jews throughout the world. A visit to The Wall brings forth some understanding of the great depth of feeling inspired by it. A steady throng of people come to pray, facing this massive stone wall, many leaving behind missives stuck into the cracks between the stones.
A ramp leading from the same courtyard takes people over the wall and into the courtyard of the two great Moslem mosques, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock, with its beautiful blue, mosaic walls. The Moslems believe it was from this rock Mohammed left his earthly existence for a heavenly one.
There is a spot on the surface of the mound of rock, worn smooth by time, where an indent can be felt. This is believed to be a footprint left behind by Mohammed when he made his leap into space. This footprint can be felt by those who choose to go into the Dome.
Scholars have meticulously studied historical records and traditions making comparisons with archeological findings to try to establish the probable locations of various historical or religious events. Sometimes several places may fit the known facts, creating controversy between those who follow different theories.
Herod’s palace, below the present Citadel, may have been where Jesus was tried and sentenced to death. From this spot, He would have begun His walk to His crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa, the route He probably followed, wends its way through the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the crucifixion is believed to have taken place. Signs mark the route. Groups of devout Christians can often be seen retracing those steps. The Tomb of King David, who united the children of Israel, is in a room beneath the room thought to be the site of The Last Supper.
In this old city one gets a concept of what the Millennium really means. In Israel one finds a continuum of time, which in our western world, we only began counting with the birth of Christ, over 2,020 years ago. Israel’s history goes back thousands of years before that date. Religious traditions were so strong they radiated from this source throughout the world. Today, like a magnet, the fascination of Jerusalem draws people from all over the globe.
The modern city that surrounds the Old City offers all the amenities one would expect in any large modern city. I stayed in two world-class hotels, The King David Hotel and The Jerusalem Hilton Hotel, both within a few short blocks of the Old City. However, a wide range of other accommodation is available, and budget accommodation can be found at religious hostels.
As security is a feature Israel works hard to maintain, walking about Jerusalem’s streets felt quite safe.
People throughout the world are hoping for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Changes in government usually have a stated goal to forge ahead with a peace process as quickly as possible. It is always hoped this attitude will foster more stability throughout the Middle East and maintain a secure atmosphere for the people who live there and the tourists who come back to the roots of civilization in the Twenty-first Century.
Story and Photos by M. Maxine George
Last Updated January 26, 2021 by Matthew George – Webmaster