Our 2nd day in Jerusalem started with a visit to the Yad Vashem museum, which was a museum focused on the topics of WWII and the atrocities of the Holocaust. There were audio guides available that gave information as we visited different places of the very long museum. It was impossible to go through all the details within 2hrs that we were there but we couldn’t afford more time since there were other places to visit. But the history lesson was totally worth it.
After lunching at the museum, we drove to Mount of Olives and visited the Gethsemane. It was a small garden that had an impressive, very, very old olive trees, some as old as a few thousands years old!
Close to the garden was the Church of All Nations. There was a service at the time of our visit so we didn’t go about exploring the church and merely took a photo of the internal before leaving.
Then we continued walking to Dominus Flevit Church. It was a small church constructed in a interesting shape, like a teardrop. We went in to have a look and from the window we could see the old city. This also provided a short period of shade from the otherwise rather open hill, exposed to the blazing sun above our heads.
Walking along the roads of this hill and above the slope of graves, the old city can be seen.
Leaving the Mount of Olives, we drove to the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were kept. The museum complex was huge and had many different exhibits but we were only focused in going to the scrolls since it was really close to closing time. These manuscripts on papyrus were displayed, some of them were really long and rolled out. Coupled with the content from the Da Vinci’s code at the back of my head during the visit, it was an amazing feeling to see ancient stuff like these.
It was time for a break from the visiting and we took the rest of the evening off with a visit to the Malcha Mall, one of the largest mall in Jerusalem. The large and popular brands can be recognised in this huge mall, and it was definitely a cooler option to walk around compared to the outside.
For dinner, we drove to random street where it seemed like a popular place for dining due number of restaurants available. Found one that had Israeli flags on its window, Marvad Haksamim and ordered to our heart’s content (since we were near the end of the trip and still had some money). The food was delicious!
Started the morning with breakfast at the restaurant next to the hotel, Yotvata at the promenade. Bought the vouchers from the hotel reception at a discount.
After retrieving our vehicle from the carpark, it’s a one and a half hour drive to Jerusalem. Parked along the road side on the Alcazar Hotel and checked in. The simple room given was a twin and came with a balcony but not much of a view.
The walled city of Jerusalem was a lovely place to visit, the architecture of old seemed to bring the us back in time. The 4 quarters (Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Armenian) that formed the city but each separated from each other by a small walking street. Location of importance to 3 major religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) of the world, I felt that there seemed to be a small tinge of tension within the different quarters but it could very well be from myself, influenced by media before coming here. The people just carried on with their day to day though.
The area of the city was huge and some strategy for walking about would be required to cover as much with as little time as possible. Streets were only as wide of people to walk about and there was so much walking required. We first visit the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall). Men and women were separated at the entrance to their own sides. There were kippas for temporary usage that had to be won to enter these areas. There were many people who come to pray beside the wall. There was also a library beside the wall and there too many were seen praying, some moving about wildly like as if in some kind of trance.
After that, we went to the Christian side and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I felt that it wasn’t easy to find this place as getting here we had to walk into a small pathway from the main street of the Christian quarters and we missed it the first time around.
Though I wasn’t a Christian, I was kinda excited to visit this place (maybe I heard more of the stories than the other religions?). This was the place where Jesus was crucified and laid to rest. Though from the outside, the church didn’t look all too impressive, once inside, we could feel the confusion as it was a huge areas with multiple chapels within, each with their own significance. Tried to follow the map and explored but it was difficult to get close to some of the more significant spots (Edicule, rock of Calvary, Stone of Anointing) as there were lines of pilgrims waiting!
Our third place of interest was in Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock. Entry into this place was limited to just one entry through the Mughrabi gate at the Western Wall, as we were non-Muslims. We had to queue to enter as entry was controlled and entrants were checked. There wasn’t many places we could go into the mosque or the Dome of the Rock but simply admire visually the beauty of its architecture.
By the end of the visits, we were looking for a place to have lunch and so visited an interesting looking restaurant that was within an arch, known as Between the Arches.
There were still some more places to go such as the Church of Dormition where it was said that this was the place where the Virgin Mary died.
We also visited Tomb of King David. There weren’t much signages here and we ended up not seeing anything that resembled a sarcophagus. On the second storey of the building was the Cenacle, where the Last Supper was supposed to have taken place. We couldn’t make up where that was too, with only an imagination based on Da Vinci’s paintings.
We also walked to Oskar Schindler’s grave, having been inspired by the movie Schindler’s list, where he had saved so many lives from the Nazi persecutions during WWII. Unfortunately it was closed and we didn’t had a lot time.
There were just so much to see in Jerusalem. There were also ruins of archaeological importance as we walked about. It was rather tiring to absorb so much and walk so long in a day.
Went back to the hotel for a rest before getting out of dinner. There was a modern mall, Alrov Mamilla Avenue, so we went there in search of dinner. Settle in at a restaurant with a view. Thoroughly enjoyed the day in Jerusalem.