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Notes on the Geography of Jerusalem: Jerusalem

The roughly square Old City can best be surveyed from David's Tower, about at the midpoint of the city's western wall. (Note: this "western wall" has nothing to do with the famous Western Wall, which is the western edge of the Haram Ash-Sharaf, or Temple Mount, a smaller quadrangle in the southeast corner of the Old City.)

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Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 1

There isn't much of the Old City that's really old, at least by Biblical standards, but the base of David's tower comes close, with Herodian blocks dating from Roman times. Higher up, the blocks are more recent, but these ones, sitting quietly at the base, haven't moved in 2,000 years.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 2

Looking up the same wall. The top half was added only yesterday--well, actually in the 14th century, but around here that's not old.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 3

The Old City has been under Muslim control for most of the last 15 centuries: here, opposite David's Tower, there's a bastion at the western wall's midpoint, near the Jaffa Gate.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 4

This is the first of a sequence of pictures panning to the right from atop David's Tower. There's a good view here of the Jaffa Gate, whose gates were removed by the Turkish authorities so that Kaiser Wilhelm II could enter on horseback. The Turks also installed a clock tower in honor of Sultan Abdul Hamid, but out of respect for the city's traditional character the British removed it about 1920. Outside the wall, a bit of forest marks the ancient Mamilla pool, once a source of domestic water; beyond it is the skyline of West Jerusalem. Inside the wall, this is the Christian Quarter, with properties of the Latin Patriarchate abutting the wall but separated from it by narrow, private gardens.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 5

Further into the Christian Quarter, with an old but still operating hotel in the foreground. The neighborhood is dominated by properties belonging to several sects including the Franciscan, Greek Orthodox, and Greek Catholic.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 6

The tower of the Coptic Church of St. George rises above the general level of the city, which is dominated here by 20th century buildings and still newer rooftop satellite receivers and solar panels.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 7

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is just about to swing into view on the right.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 8

The dark dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is of iron and dates only from 1808, after a fire destroyed a masonry dome that formerly let light shine upon the sepulcher itself. The spire to the immediate left of the dome is the El Khanqa Mosque.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 9

The tower at the center-right is the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, built in the 19th century to typically high German standards. Between it and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the Greek Monastery of St. Abraham.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 10

The view is now almost due east toward the brilliantly golden and blue Dome of the Rock, which dominates the Haram Ash-Sharif, or Temple Mount. The spire of the 19th century Russian Ascension Church stands behind it and slightly to the right, atop the Mount of Olives.

Jerusalem: Jerusalem picture 11

The greenery includes the Garden of Gethsemane, at the base of the Mount of Olives. To its right, an immense Jewish cemetery sprawls with shallow graves hardly dug into the rocky earth. Below the cemetery and just to the right of the greenery is the pitched roof and olive-green dome of the great Al-Aqsa Mosque.


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