Jerusalem: a place of meditation and conflict

“This is the place where Jesus met his mother on the way to the Cross” the shopkeeper explains to me.
“And if you take the next street on your right, you can see where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death”.

I am on a trip to discover the holy sites of Jerusalem and standing on the “Via Dolorosa”, said to be the exact same road Jesus took on the way to the cross, brings back memories of my childhood, memories about the stories I heard over and over again in school…

holy sites in Jerusalem Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, identified as the place of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus. It is one of the most sacred places on earth for Christians. Inside, people kneel on what is said to be the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial and there are huge queues to get a glimpse of the tomb itself. The church is immense but the flickering candles of the various shrines give it a very evocative and mysterious feel!

holy sites Jerusalem Holy Sepulchre

Venturing a bit further, outside the gates of the Old Town, I find the “Last Supper room”, the place where Jesus and his disciples had supper on Holy Thursday. Once inside the Dormition Abbey, it is not easy to locate the exact room. At last, signs confirm I’ve found the right one. Inside, a group of American worshippers are singing psalms. Their hands raised towards the ceiling, they seem oblivious to what’s happening around them.

holy sites Jerusalem last supper room

The proof that religions are often intertwined can be found on this very same spot. The Last Supper Room is located directly above the Tomb of David, an important site for Jewish people.

But THE holiest place in Judaism is of course the Wailing Wall, a relatively small section of the walls surrounding the Temple Mount. Entering the Western Wall Plaza means undergoing severe security controls. With the constant religious tensions in Israel, it is understandable that no risks can be taken…

The Western Wall Plaza is divided into a male and female section. I make my way up closer to the wall, surrounded by Jewish people rocking back and forth, quoting the Tora. Into the cracks of the Wall, I can see little pieces of paper sticking out, containing prayers to God. I can’t help noticing how serene and respectful the atmosphere is here.

holy sites in Jerusalem Wailing Wall

holy sites in Jerusalem Wailing Wall

holy sites in Jerusalem Wailing Wall

The holy sites of Jerusalem are literally next to one another. From the Western Wall Plaza there is a magnificent view over one of the most significant symbols of Islam: the Dome of the Rock. Its golden cupola can be spotted from almost everywhere in Jerusalem and it grew out to be one of the most famous symbols of the city. It is the third most sacred place for Muslims, after Mecca and Medina. Unfortunately the shrine is inaccessible for non-muslims like myself.

holy sites in Jerusalem Dome of the Rock

I make my way through the Muslim district of the old town, where the friendly but persistent vendors try to strike up a conversation and sell whatever it is they have for sale: Christianity, Islam or Judaism all seem to intertwine here in the name of commerce…

holy sites in Jerusalem

It is safe to say that Jerusalem had an enormous effect on me! It’s the place where three religions come together. It’s a place of contemplation, of meditation and peace but unfortunately, as often with religion, also a place of controversy and conflict…

Have you ever visited the holy sites of Jerusalem? Or have you been to another place that had the same overwhelming effect? Please share!

9 Replies to “Jerusalem: a place of meditation and conflict”

  1. Vicki Mattingly

    I agree–it is the most fascinating place I have ever been. So much to not only see, but to understand and experience. I would recommend everyone that can should go sometime to better understand the history and culture of this fascinating part of the world.

  2. Bianca @itsallbee

    I was in Israel last year as my boyfriend is from there so we travelled all around from North to South and between. I was hoping to go this year but it will probably be next year now. It is an amazing place to see.

  3. Andrea

    I have never been to Jerusalem, but with its historical associations and religious impact I would love to explore each section and perspective. Great post!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.