Old City Rooftops
This viewpoint, taken from the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City, offers a superb overview of the rooftops in the Old City in Jerusalem. From here, you can see the rooftops of the Muslim Quarter as well as some of the rooftops and buildings of the Jewish Quarter. The Via Dolorosa, also known as ‘The Way of the Cross’ passes directly beneath this view point which is close to the 2nd of the 14 stops of the Via Dolorosa.
Church of our Lady of the Spasm
The Church of Our Lady of the Spasm is located near the fourth station of the Via Dolorosa where according to Christian tradition Jesus met his mother Mary as he carried the cross. The Church is located behind the wall of the 4th station and commemorates the meeting of Jesus and his mother. The Armenian Orthodox Church was built in 1881 and although small, inside lies a beautiful mosaic floor with an outline of sandals which some beleive to be the exact spot where Saint Mary stood as Jesus passed by carrying the cross.
Literally translated as “The Distant Mosque”, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located nearby the dome of the rock and is the third most holy site in Sunni Islam. According to Muslim tradition, during “The Night Journey” Muhammad traveled from the Mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Originally the Al-Aqsa mosque was a small prayer house erected in 710 AD. It was expanded and rebuilt 5 times over the years due to earthquakes and wars. As the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they converted the Mosque into the headquarters of the Knights Templar and served as a church and palace for the Crusader kings. In 1187 Saladin restored its status as a mosque and it has been repaired and renovated by the Ayyubis, Mamluks, Ottomans and various Islamic bodies and organizations ever since. In 1951 the Jordanian King Abdullah was assassinated in the southern part of the mosque. Despite its silver dome paling in comparison to the dome of the rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is rich with ornaments and serves as an interesting blend of different architectural styles and periods. The mosque has the capacity to host over 5000 worshipers and is administered by the Islamic Waqf.
Dome of the Rock
Built by Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik in 691 AD, the Dome of the Rock is the most famous Muslim site in Jerusalem and has become an inseparable part of the Jerusalem skyline. Similarly to the Ka’ba in Mecca, The Dome is not a Mosque but a shrine built over a sacred stone, known as the “Foundation Stone”, from which, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad had ascended to the heavens in “The Night Journey”. It is also believed to be the site on which Abraham had almost sacrificed Ishmael (not Isaac as is believed in Christianity and Judaism).
Due to its magnificent golden dome and sheer size, the Dome of the Rock can be seen from almost every vantage point in Jerusalem thus fulfilling its architectural purpose – to symbolize Islamic superiority and overshadow the Jewish and Christian monuments in the area. Originally made of gold, the dome has since been replaced with copper and aluminum and is now gold-plated. The dome is an octagon structure built according to specific and exact mathematically rhythmic proportions, e.g. the length of the outer wall is identical to the diameter of the dome and height of the dome.
Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva
Also known as Ateret Yerushalyim and led by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner this Yeshiva was established in 1983. Some 230 students, mostly in their early 20s, study sacred texts, rabbinic literature and the Talmud in the Yeshiva today. The yeshiva is located within the Muslim Quarter in the Old City which has created some tension over the years.
Porat Yosef Yeshiva
Porat Yosef Yeshiva has been considered the most prestigious Jewish Sephardic Yeshiva since its opening in 1923. The yeshiva was founded at the behest of the great Rabbi Yosef Chaim, also known as the ‘Ben Ish Hai’ which is Hebrew for ‘son of living man’. His vision was to build a Yeshiva as close to the Western Wall as possible where students will study Talmud and Kabbalah in order to bring forth the coming of the Messiah and redemption. Many prominent Rabbis have graduated the Porat Yosef Yeshiva such as the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Yeshivat Hakotel is a Modern Orthodox Zionist Yeshiva which is situated across the Western Wall, giving it its name. The Yeshiva is a ‘Hesder Yeshiva’ which incorporates the mandatory Israeli military service and Jewish yeshiva studies. The Yeshiva was founded 1n 1967 and has resided in various locations in the Jewish Quarter before settling in its current permanent location. Over 3000 students study in the Yeshiva today and it is the flagship yeshiva of the Modern-Orthodox ‘Bnei Akiva’ movement.
The Hurva Synagogue
The Hurva Synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was first established in 1700 by a group of European Jews who came to the Holy Land under the leadership of Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid. Due to their failure to return the loans taken for building the synagogue, the creditors destroyed the synagogue in 1721 giving it its name “Hurva” which means “Ruin” in Hebrew. The site remained mostly desolated until 1856 when it was rebuilt with the financial aid of Moses Montefiore. The synagogue was built in the neo-Byzantine style popular at that time in the Ottoman Empire which can be seen in the arches and dome roof. The synagogue was demolished once more during the 1948 War by the Jordanian forces and remained so until 2010 when it was newly reconstructed according to the original neo-Byzantine style of the 19th century.
Aish HaTorah Yeshiva
Yeshivat Aish HaTora literally meaning “Fire of the Torah” in Hebrew is a Zionist-Orthodox Yeshiva in the Jewish Quarter of the Old city by the Western Wall. It was established in 1974 by the Aish HaTorah International Organization which includes 48 institutions in 21 different countries. The Yeshiva is also known for a model of the Second Temple which is found on the roof in a glass container. The model depicts the Second Temple with the tools that were used for worship such as the Menorah, Arc of the Covenant and more.
Lutheran Church Of The Redeemer
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is one of the two protestant churches in the Old City, the second being ‘Christ Church’ located by the Jaffa gate. The beautiful church was built between 1893 and 1898 and was inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm II who entered the city mounted on a horse passing through two ceremonial arches dedicated to him by the Ottoman rule and the local Jewish Community. The church serves today as the offices of the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Provost of the German Protestant Ministries in the Holy Land.