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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Ancient Synagogue of Arbel (4th Cent. AD?). Was probably destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th Century. The synagogue faced Jerusalem and was made of limestone without mortar; whereas the homes of the ancient Arbel was made of commonly available black basalt rocks of the region.

The synagogue (18.6M X 18.2M) was first discovered in 1852 by the explorer and scholar Edward Robinson. It consists of a hall with three rows of columns which  supported a second-story gallery. One of the doorway of the synagogue was hewn out of a single rock, of which one very impressive pillar still  remains visible. Other parts of the doorway, adorned with vegetal patterns, are still scattered around. The synagogue was refurbished on 6th century AD and remained in use for another two centuries.

 This monolithic monumental door was carved out of a single rock. Its the eastern entrance of the synagogue.

 The heart shaped eastern columns.

 The niche represents the place for the Holy Ark and its faces Jerusalem.

 You can look for the bases of the stone benches used in the synagogue at the right corner beneath the standing stones. They were arranged in 4 rows.

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