JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Built by Umayyad Caliphs as a hunting lodge, Hisham's Palace is one of the finest examples of early Islamic architecture. A complex of residential quarters, baths, mosques and colonnaded courts with spectacular mosaics and stucco (plastered) ornaments, this winter palace was initially thought to have been built by the 10th Umayyad Caliph, el-Hisham Ibn Abd el-Malik (724-743 AD). Later much of the credit was given to Hisham's spoilt nephew and successor, Caliph el-Walid ibn el-Yazid II (743-744 AD). The palace was destroyed in an earthquake in 749 AD, almost 5 years after it was built. The site was only uncovered twelve centuries later, when British archaeologists located them in 1937, hidden beneath sand. Many of the archaeological findings from the place are now displayed in the Rockefeller Museum of Jerusalem. Today, the highlights of the venue are 1) the monumental hexagonal star-shaped stone sculpture 2) the fabulous mosaic of a lion catching a gazelle in front of a large tree and 3) the magnificient bathhouse complex.

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