Church of the Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem

2 April 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  16 minutes

Calvary/Golgotha © Gerd Eichmann/cc-by-sa-4.0

Calvary/Golgotha © Gerd Eichmann/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of East Jerusalem. It contains, according to traditions dating back to the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus’s empty tomb, where he was buried and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by a 19th-century shrine called the Aedicula. The Status Quo, an understanding between religious communities dating to 1757, applies to the site. Within the church proper are the last four (or, by some definitions, five) stations of the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of the Passion of Jesus. The church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the fourth century, as the traditional site of the resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis (‘Resurrection’). Today, the wider complex around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the church itself is shared among several Christian denominations and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for over 160 years, and some for much longer. The main denominations sharing property over parts of the church are the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic, and to a lesser degree the Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox.   read more…

Battir in the West Bank

2 December 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  8 minutes

© flickr.com - Labour Palestine/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Labour Palestine/cc-by-2.0

Battir is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, 6.4 km west of Bethlehem, and southwest of Jerusalem. It was inhabited during the Byzantine and Islamic periods, and in the Ottoman and British Mandate censuses its population was recorded as primarily Muslim. In former times, the city lay along the route from Jerusalem to Bayt Jibrin. Battir is situated just above the modern route of the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway, which served as the armistice line between Israel and Jordan from 1949 until the Six-Day War, when it was occupied by Israel. In 2007, Battir had a population of about 4,000. In 2014, Battir was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, as Land of Olives and Vines — Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir.   read more…

The origins of Jerusalem stone architecture in East Jerusalem

23 November 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  12 minutes

Old town Suq Aftimos © Rastaman3000/cc-by-sa-3.0

Old town Suq Aftimos © Rastaman3000/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jerusalem stone (Meleke) is a lithologic type of white, coarsely-crystalline, thickly bedded-limestone found in the Judean Hills in Israel and the West Bank. It has been used in the traditional architecture of Jerusalem since ancient times, especially in Herodian architecture. Though it is often popularly referred to as Jerusalem stone, that phrase can refer to a number of different types of stone found and used in or associated with Jerusalem. Jerusalem stone is a name applied to various types of pale limestone, dolomite and dolomitic limestone, common in and around Jerusalem that have been used in building since ancient times. One of these limestones has been used in many of the region’s most celebrated structures, including the Western Wall. Jerusalem stone continues to be used in construction and incorporated in Jewish ceremonial art such as menorahs and seder plates. Limestone is used all over the world. The unique selling point is the mining area, the origins of which lie in the Palestinian old town of East Jerusalem. This unique selling point naturally also applies to other mining areas, e.g. for the Austin Stone from Austin, Texas or the Cotswold Stone from the British Cotswolds.   read more…

Abu Dis in the West Bank

21 July 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  9 minutes

Dome of Rock in East Jerusalem as seen from Abu Dis © Padres Hana/cc-by-sa-3.0

Dome of Rock in East Jerusalem as seen from Abu Dis © Padres Hana/cc-by-sa-3.0

Abu Dis or Abu Deis is a Palestinian village in the Quds Governorate (Jerusalem) of the Palestinian National Authority bordering the Palestinian East Jerusalem. Since the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Abu Dis land has been mostly part of “Area C“, under full Israeli control. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) census, Abu Dis had a population of 12,604 in 2016. Abu Dis is situated on an ancient site, surrounded by deep valleys. Ruins have been found of ancient buildings, cisterns, grape presses and caves, one with a columbarium. Ceramics from Late Roman and Byzantine period has also been found.   read more…

Nazareth, home town of Jesus

1 April 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  7 minutes

Grotto of Annunciation © Ramessos/cc-by-sa-3.0

Grotto of Annunciation © Ramessos/cc-by-sa-3.0

Nazareth is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Nazareth is known as “the Arab capital of Israel”. Nazareth Illit (lit. “Upper Nazareth”), declared a separate city in June 1974, is built alongside old Nazareth. In the New Testament, the town is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and as such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events. With the exception of the Old City, the two Nazareths are architecturally uninspired, as are most of the other development towns of Israel, too. In March 2010, the Israeli government approved a $3 million plan to develop Nazareth’s tourism industry. New businesses receive start-up grants of up to 30 percent of their initial investment from the Ministry of Tourism.   read more…

Theme Week East Jerusalem – The Western or Buraq Wall

7 November 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  14 minutes

Men's and women's prayer area © Daniel Case/cc-by-sa-3.0

Men’s and women’s prayer area © Daniel Case/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Western Wall, Wailing Wall, or Kotel, known in Islam as the Buraq Wall, is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of East Jerusalem. It is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known also in its entirety as the “Western Wall”. The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, with the Dome of the Rock/Qubbat As-Sakhrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in a large rectangular structure topped by a huge flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple itself and its auxiliary buildings. For Muslims, it is the site where the Islamic Prophet Muhammad tied his steed, al-Buraq, on his night journey to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise, and constitutes the Western border of al-Haram al-Sharif.   read more…

Theme Week East Jerusalem – The American Colony Hotel

1 October 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Hotels, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  6 minutes

© flickr.com - Alistair/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – Alistair/cc-by-sa-2.0

The American Colony Hotel is a luxury hotel located in a historic building in East Jerusalem which previously housed the utopian AmericanSwedish community known as the American Colony. The hotel belongs to The Leading Hotels of the World. The building was originally built and owned by Ottoman Pasha Rabbah Daoud Amin Effendi al-Husseini, who lived there with his harem of four wives. Soon after his fourth marriage, al-Husseini died. In 1895, the building was sold to a group of messianic Christians who arrived in Jerusalem in 1881 and set up a commune. Their leader was Horatio Spafford, a lawyer from Chicago and his wife, Anna. In 1896, the Americans were joined by two groups of Swedish settlers. This Christian utopian society became known as the American Colony.   read more…

Theme Week East Jerusalem – The Old City of Jerusalem

12 September 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  19 minutes

Old City of Jerusalem - Temple Mount © Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

Old City of Jerusalem – Temple Mount © Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Old City of Jerusalem is a just about 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) wide walled area in East Jerusalem and forms the core of the Middle East/Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until 1860, when the Jewish neighborhood Mishkenot Sha’ananim was established, this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem and Israeli right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unintentionally right in pointing out that Jerusalem is indivisible, as to this day the Palestinian old town remains to be a self-contained and undivided entity. The Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, the Temple Mount and Western Wall for Jews, and the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims. It was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger in 1982. Although the Mount Zion with the Abbey of the Dormition is located outside the city walls, it is occasionally seen as part of the Old City. In 2011, UNESCO issued a statement reiterating its view that East Jerusalem is “part of the occupied Palestinian territory, and that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in permanent status negotiations.” The border between East and West Jerusalem, the City Line, which has survived to this day due to the repeatedly annulled Jerusalem Law by the UN, as part of the Green Line, runs between the Old City Wall and the Mamilla Mall in West Jerusalem.   read more…

The Israeli Independence Day

13 May 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

Independence Hall in Tel Aviv © Deror avi

Independence Hall in Tel Aviv © Deror avi

The Israeli Declaration of Independence took place on May 14, 1948 or on 5 Iyar 5708, according to the Hebrew calendar, in the Independence Hall of the Israeli de jure capital city Tel Aviv, mostly as a direct result of the Holocaust and the Évian Conference. On the same day, the British Mandatory Palestine ended. The Independence Day (Hebrew “Jom haAtzma’ut” for “Day of Independence”) was introduced in the following year 1949 as a reminder of the proclamation of the state by David Ben-Gurion.   read more…

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