From the vantage point of Mount of Olives, I see the golden-coloured Dome of the Rock soar above the Old City of Jerusalem — a tight cluster of pale limestone buildings, domes, and towers. Entering into the walled city from a glossy, well-planned outer suburb area — home to all branches of the Israeli government –– I feel that I am in some another time period. Of course there are signs of modern-living, but that makes little difference.
Streets paved with setts run past ancient colonnaded houses with wrought-iron balconies. Below them shops and restaurants sell hot pizza, falafel and shawarma. Soon the streets turn into narrow lanes and alleys of bustling markets full of locals and tourists alike.
An Array of shops sell a range of souvenirs that easily catch a visitor’s eye (or dazzle it) – from exotic artifacts, fine local handicrafts and antiques to religious articles, jewelleries, textiles, rugs, cheap clothing, ceramics, glassware and small keepsakes to take back home to remind you of your visit to the holy city.
I head down some covered markets in the Muslim or Christian quarters. They are so devoid of natural light that lamps from rows of shops light the way. Walking down these vibrant marketplaces while passing by a variety of colorful goods and wares and amid merchant calls, you may just walk past a hidden mosque, a church or some religious sites of importance without even knowing. Your mind is too busy processing the multitude of exotic images pounding on it. Continue reading…