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Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock mosque rises above Jerusalem from its perch on the Temple Mount.
Photograph by Ed Kashi

Jerusalem

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At the center of Jerusalem, regarded by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital, is something magically, tragically one of a kind. It’s the Old City, a walled enclave where Jews built two great temples, Christ died and rose, and Muhammad ascended to heaven. The Old City is the heart of Jerusalem, divided and subdivided, epicenter of a conflict stretching from the dawn of time to the end of days. The Old City is timeless but small, less than a square mile (2.6 square kilometers) in size. It isn’t a comforting smallness. It’s dense and intense, a black hole, a terrifying proximity that draws and holds you—a sense of Armageddon, judgment, resurrection, just around the corner.

Jerusalem’s Old City

Orthodox Jews pray against the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Photograph by Ed Kashi

Writer P. F. Kluge explores the Old City to find out what a visitor—not a devotee—can find to like about this city venerated by the world’s faithful.

 

Read “City of the Ages” in the November/December 1999 issue of TRAVELER.

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