Jerusalem has always been one of those destinations that have been on my bucket-list for a very long time. Since learning about its religious importance in school and seeing photos of the old city for what seems like forever, I finally got to experience the city for myself. However, luckily for me, I ended up arriving in the ancient city at the best possible time – Jerusalem Day. I gained a rich and cultural experience that I definitely won’t forget about anytime soon!
During my time in Israel, a lot of stuff cracked off. Missiles were being fired in the north, tensions at the Gaza/Israeli border were intense and highly publicised and last but not least I was in Jerusalem on Jerusalem day. What are the chances? I didn’t even plan it either…honest!
Although most people would be wary of visiting Jerusalem at such a tense time, once I’d finally realised that it was Jerusalem day, I decided to embrace it and make the most of the opportunity, and I’m absolutely over the moon that I did!
I witnessed religious tension at its peak and I realised exactly how important Jerusalem is to both the Jewish and Muslim communities (I didn’t really see any Christian related experiences). Obviously getting involved in all of the touristy must do’s was amazing. Such as touching the Western Wall, visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and crossing into Palestine to see the Dome of the Rock. However, the most exciting part for me was seeing the Jewish people celebrating the 51st anniversary after taking control of the old city. There were hundreds of parades taking place outside the walls of the Old City, which demonstrated just how important both Jerusalem day and Jerusalem was to the Israeli people. I’ve seen religious celebrations in my time, but I had never witnessed anything on this scale before.
Within the walls of the Old City, the celebrations began to get violent and the Jewish extremists were definitely using this Israeli holiday to show their control of Jerusalem off to Muslims which were overlooking from the Palestinian side of the city. Dozens of armed security created a wall separating the two religions, aiming to stop any extremists from causing any significant problems. At one point we saw extremists from both religions being escorted to the police station, it was at this point when I realised just how much this Old City in the Middle East really meant to both religions.
Dozens of parades, and seeing Israeli flags on literally every building, as well as them being held by nearly every person I walked past made my experience of Jerusalem one that I will never forget. It gave me a real sense of what Israel is all about and opened my eyes to the religious tensions that still surround Jerusalem.
Have you travelled to Jerusalem? Or do you want to travel to Jerusalem? Let me know what your experience was like in the comments, or post some reasons why Jerusalem is next on your bucket list!
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