After a full day in Jerusalem and four late afternoon/evenings I was not able to get to the Temple Mount. Either it was Friday and it was closed or it was too late and the Israeli were closing the access over the Western Wall. Each day they told me to come the next day but each day I was leaving somewhere else and came back again late in the day. So I planned for my last day in Jerusalem, before my flight, to get to the Temple Mount so at 8:00 AM I was at the Moroccan Gate.
Temple Mount is a thorn in the Israeli politics. It’s coming in discussion like a leitmotif and is hard to fathom its importance without coming to Jerusalem. Because Temple Mount is a large plaza extended and consolidated by Herod in 19BC on which the Second Temple of the Jews was located that was further razed by the Romans who built here a temple dedicated to Jupiter, further occupied by the Muslims that razed the Roman temple and built two magnificent mosques leaving the Jews to pray at the base of the platform, toward a collection of remaining bricks from two eras. The Build-Destroy cycle of the city.
Al-Aqsa, the more austere mosque, is the third holiest place for the Muslims after Mecca and Medina. Here, the Quran says, Mohamed was transported from Mecca during his Night Journey, a travel both physical and spiritual.
Surprising the other mosque right across the plaza guarded by Israeli soldiers with machine guns, the Dome of the Rock with its most recognizable gilded dome has an agreed and deep significance for both Jews and Muslims, here being the Biblical place where Abraham heard God asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. However for the Jews the rock is the place from where the world was spun into existence and from its dust God created Adam. For the Muslims the rock signifies the place from where Mohamed raised to Heaven. But their agreement about its significance is nothing compared with the tension that emanates on this place after centuries of conflict.
I walked all over the Temple Mount and shot video on the outside of the mosques, the access to the interior being allowed only for Muslim believers. At one point I went to the Cotton Merchant Gate, an interesting old gate built in Moorish style and I just wanted to take a shot of the gate toward the Dome of the Rock so I stepped outside of it, maybe three steps. Each gate is guarded by two Israeli military and one policeman with machine guns beside one Arab guard dressed in a jalabah. They refused to let me back in because this gate, like 10 others, can be used only by Muslims and they sent me back at the Moroccan Gate. But at the Moroccan Gate somehow they saw my professional camera and they did not let me to get in anymore. However they turned out to be of great help because I did not have enough time anyhow and I already shot whatever I needed.
The Jerusalem wall is surrounding continuously the old city but because the access to the temple mount is under high security the portion of the wall that is behind it is also closed. So the ticket they sell for wall access has two sections. In the first day I visited the left side of the wall but I did not have time to visit its right side. But when I went to the right side of the wall to enter the guard complained that the ticket is too old and he refused to let me in. In spite that it does not say anything about its valability it looks like they would let you only in the day it was issued and maybe the following day.
Next to the wall entrance is the Jerusalem Citadel named also Tower of David with no real connection to King David. It was built mainly by the Mameluks and the Ottomans but on old fortifications of started by the Hasmoneans and continued also by Herod the Great and Paranoid. Of course it was destroyed repeatedly in history, mainly during the crusaders invasion who also coined its association with King David. It was repeatedly reconstructed, its last reconstruction being done for the benefit of the modern invaders, the hordes of tourists that flood daily the streets of Jerusalem.