Monday, May 26, 2014

From Place To Space: Visiting Old Jerusalem




Some travel destinations are overwhelmingly captive - they emanate a limitless number of impressions addressing all your senses, they flip through centuries, no millennia, with every second step you take, they blend sounds and scents, languages, cultures, religions. Quiet, abandoned alleys alternate with loud, bustling streets and squares. They leave you in awe. Between fascination and exhaustion. One of those destinations is Jerusalem.



This level of inspirational overload leaves me even now in a sort of writer perplexity. I don't know where to start and where to end this story. I encountered too many moments that were special, better said unique and really moving. But I will try to summarize some of my most important moments in words - for the rest I will let the pictures 'talk' to you.




During my Israel trip I spent two full days in Jerusalem, the controversial capital, the divided city, the center of three monotheistic religions. The change between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem couldn't be bigger even thought a mere 50 kilometers separates both cities. You switch from a coastal to a hillside city, from a very liberal, easy-going beach population to a rather conservative, religious population. You switch from a city drafted and built in the past century to an ancient city dating back to 5.000 years of inhabited history. 




My first day in Jerusalem was marked by a 'historic walk' throughout the old town to grasp an understanding of its variety and dimensions. I walked through the Muslim quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Christian quarter and the Armenian quarter. I walked through narrow streets with colorful markets and souks and finally arrived at a sign indicating: Western Wall. This marked the beginning of my discovery trail of the important religious monuments in Jerusalem.



Approaching the Western Wall was a magnificent feeling, something slightly bewildering, a mix between curiosity, devotion and reverence. Of course I used the opportunity to stick a little paper with my wish into the ancient wall and say a little prayer. Later on, I walked the entire Via Dolorosa and visited every single stop along it - not alone of course, but with dozens of pilgrims from all over the world. 



The trail ends at the overwhelming Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the heart of the Christian quarter.  In fact, the church is a conglomerate of many churches and chapels under one roof and is said to be constructed over the Golgotha hill where Jesus was crucified and his close-by tomb. Despite the numerous visitors the church effused an elevating atmosphere of prayers and admiration. And the moment when I approached the Holy Sepulchre was very special and personally moving (look at my happy face when I left the church further down). That said, patience comes in the package too as you have to queue for most of the important sights within the church. Finally, I wanted to visit the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque from close-by but I was not lucky enough - the two official entrances to the Temple Mount for foreigners were closed that day.



The second day was another one of discovery. First I visited the ancient City of David taking me back to the millennia-long history of Jerusalem including a fascinating walk through a subterranean water tunnel - I walked around 30 minutes through a very narrow and pitch-dark tunnel with my feet in water with my friend Sarah. The only source of light: The flashlight app on our iPhones. What a crazy adventure it was. Unfortunately, no pictures to share with you as it was - you remember - pitch dark! Everything was topped with a visit to the Mount of Olives with stunning views of the old town of Jerusalem. 





Jerusalem is an amazing place to visit. Especially if you are interested in history. It is like a navel between the past, the present and the future with the levitating eternal question: Will this city be one day not only the capital of a country and three religions but also the capital of peace? A wish well worth to be sticked into the Western Wall. Happy Monday everyone! Oh, and shalom!


Photography by Igor Josifovic

17 comments :

  1. Oh i love your pictures sooooo much. What a beautiful city! I´ve never been there, but last week a friend of mine returned from Jerusalem an showed me the same great impressions, So i think my next journey will have THIS destination ;-)! Have the best time ever! Anne

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    1. Thank you Anne! I can really recommend a trip there - it was such a remarkable voyage, something I will remember for the rest of my life!

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  2. This must have been truly an amazing journey.

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    1. It was Ana, I am still moved when I go through the photos!

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  3. Vielen Dank für die vielen tollen Bilder. Du hast sie sehr eindrucksvoll zusammengestellt.
    Ich habe eigentlich auch nur einen Wunsch, dass in jeder großen Religion der Friede und die Toleranz siegen und die Menschheit sich um wichtigere Dinge hier auf Erden kümmern lernt, als ein sicheres oder gar verdientes??? Stübchen im Himmel, was das in jeder der Religionen auch heißen mag.
    Liebe Grüße
    Angelika

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    1. Ganz genau, Angelika! Gerade diese Stadt erweckt beide Gefühle - das Gefühl des Friedens und der ungelösten Konflikte. Die Hoffnung bleibt aber!

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  4. Absolutely beautiful Igor, despite a bustling household this morning I was really calmed reading your journey. I can imagine how it might overwhelm you, there are little words to describe an experience like that. xx

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  5. Remarkable journey my friend, loved the images and words. Hugs Axx

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  6. What a captivating story. The picture of you in front of the Western Wall is strangely moving. And the picture of people lighting candles is truly stunning. I hope to one day visit the country where my name originates from. What an amazing journey, Igor!

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    1. Ha. My mother is called Judith and she's from Israel:-)

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  7. wow Igor - amazing photos! I first visited Jerusalem in the early 90s...the old quarter doesnt look like its changed that much but yes its pretty amazing and I loved visiting the church too...so much history!
    Hugs
    Anastasia
    http://www.anastasiac.blogspot.com.au/

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  8. Here's to many more happy adventures together!

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  9. What an absolutely beautiful post in so many ways.

    You captured Jerusalem really well and I'm glad you got to see it for yourself. It's a city like no other and will always hold that special place in my heart. It's deep, profound and wonderfully historic!

    Glad you got to experience the wall.

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  10. Mir fällt kein anderes Wort ein als herrlich. Wirklich ganz ganz herrliche Fotos!

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  11. Seems to be incredible town. Great pictures!! Thanks for this visit!!

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  12. Wonderful pics! Bursting with life.I have to admit that I never consider Jerusalem as a travel destination. But you made me change my mind! Have a nice day! xx Emelie

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  13. Truly wonderful imagery Igor. I can't say that I understand (the religious devotion), but I'm glad for you that you experienced the journey.

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