Old City

The city's primary religious sites in the Christian and Muslim quarters, and at the Western Wall, are the very essence of historical JerUSAlem: explore and touch the different cultures that share it. The Old City's 35,000 inhabitants jostle in the cobblestone lanes with an air of ownership, at best merely tolerating the "intruders" from other quarters. Devout Jews in black and white scurry from their neighborhoods north and west of the Old City, through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter, toward the Western Wall. Arab women in long, embroidered dresses flow across the Western Wall plaza to Dung Gate and the village of Silwan beyond it. It’s not unusual to stand at the Western Wall, surrounded by the sounds of devotions, and hear the piercing call to prayer of the Muslim muezzin above you, with the more distant bells of the Christian Quarter providing a counterpoint.

Sites such as the Western Wall, Calvary, and the Haram esh-Sharif bring a thrill of recognition to ancient history. The devout can't fail to be moved by the holy city, and its special, if sometimes dissonant, moods and modes of devotion tend to fascinate the nonbeliever as well.

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