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.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

40) Northern Gate of Aelia Capitolina, the Roman Jerusalem built by Hadrian Caesar in 2nd Century AD. Present Damascus Gate is from 16th century AD and is built by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman over this ancient gate.

The original Roman gate complex had 3 arched entrances, 2 massive guard towers and a large open plaza with a high column topped by a statue of Emperor Hadrian. The columned plaza was connected to the main highway, cardo of Jerusalem. Today, the full eastern arched entrance and its guard tower, parts of open plaza and cardo remain. The Roman gate and plaza can be reached by descending a small bridge in the side of the modern Damascus Gate. One can use original stairs inside the plaza to climb to Old City walls and do the Rampart's walk.

Eastern Arched entrance of the Northern Roman Gate of Hadrian's Jerusalem.

Remains of the Guard Tower in Roman Plaza.

Remains of Cardo from the Roman Plaza.

Guard rooms and other remains from the Northern Gate of 2nd century Jerusalem

39) Remains of ancient streets inside the old city of Jerusalem from 1) Second Jerusalem Temple period (100 BC-100 AD) and 2) Late Roman period (3rd-4th century AD).

Second Temple Period (100 BC-100 AD)-located near Damascus Gate, Muslim Quarter.

Roman Period (3rd-4th Century AD)-located in Christian Quarter

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

38) Remains of Herodian era Shops, Stones and Street from the Second Jerusalem Temple (1st Century BC).

Overall view of the area

Shops: this building with 4 shops served as the base for a large staircase (Robinson's Arch) that lead people into the Temple in first century.

Street: this paved Herodian street parallel to the 'Western Wall' was much active at the time of Jesus. Notice the crushed portions on the street is a result of the impact of the massive stones pushed over by the Roman soldiers from the Temple in 70 AD.

Stones: these massive stones were thrown by the Roman soldiers into the paved Herodian street from the Temple after Jerusalem was captured and destroyed in 70 AD.  

37) Remains of the monumental Herodian (1st century BC) staircases to the Temple Mount from south through Huldah Gates. It is certain that Jesus and His disciples used these steps to enter the temple precinct.

Today, most of the fine steps you see are reconstructed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

32) Western side (interior) of the sealed 'Eastern Gate' or 'Golden Gate' of Jerusalem. A 6th-7th century AD structure built on the top of a previously existing gate (1st century BC?), the Golden Gate is the oldest of all Jerusalem gates existing today. The western side of Golden Gate is only visible from the Temple Mount.

Eastern Side of the Golden Gate below is perhaps the most photographed side of a Jerusalem gate today.

31) Remnants of the Single, Double and Triple Gates of the southern wall of Temple Mount. The Double and Triple Gates are Herodian (1st century BC) and they provided access to the Jerusalem Temple from the southern side. Single Gate is a Crusader structure (12th century AD), an access point to the caverns below the Temple Mount called 'Solomon's Stables'.

Double Gate

Triple Gate

Single Gate

30) Remnants of the four Herodian entrances to the Second Jerusalem Temple from the west side. Named after the explorers who worked in Jerusalem in the late 1800s.

It is believed that two of these gates (Wilson's and Robinson's) connected to the surface of the Temple through a tunnel and the remaining two (Warren's and Barclay's) used underground staircases.

Warren's Gate

Wilson's Arch

Barclay's Gate

The yellow arrow marks the original massive lintel (weighs approximately 50 tons) of the Barclay's Gate from first century BC. Above the building right to this lintel is the passage to Mugrabi Gate, the only entrance for non-Muslim's into Temple Mount today. The remaining 10 gates to Temple Mount are accessible only to Muslims.

Robinson's Arch