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There’s no place like home – visiting the temple mount

Can I enter the Temple Mount independently? Is it dangerous to enter the temple mount? Can I visit the Al Aqsa Mosque? And is the golden dome really made of gold? Why is there a mosque on the Temple Mount?

Everything you need to know about an independent trip to the Temple Mount – what you can see, where you can enter, the opening hours and the access routes.

So come on, lets get started!

VISITING THE TEMPLE MOUNT AND DOME OF THE ROCK

Tour one of the most exciting and beautiful places in the country on your own. 

Israel Police – Temple Mount Point: 02-5955820

parking: The entrance to the dome of the rock is through the Dung Gate. Near the entrance there is almost no parking. A possible solution: park in the Mamilla parking lot and from there take a taxi. Another solution: use the free shuttle from the new station complex (currently inactive due to the coronavirus).

The entire compound is secured by  Policeman and soldiers generally, the level of personal security in the area is high.

What should i know before visiting temple mount

Various rules must be observed, such as modest clothing, a ban on contact between a man and a woman, and a ban on Jewish or christian prayers.

 

TEMPLE MOUNT OPENING HOURS

A trip to the area is suitable for all seasons.

Jews ascending to the Temple Mount is only possible on Sundays through Thursdays, at certain times.

In summer 07:30 to 11:00 and then from 13:30 to 14:30.

In winter from 07:00 to 10:30 and from 12:30 to 13:30.

At the end of your visit, it is recommended to continue to the colorful market where you can buy vegetables, fruits, souvenirs, and also eat hummus and kanafeh.

My Visit  to the Temple Mount & Dome of the Rock 

The fourth candle of Chanukah.

Once upon a time, when the children were little, it was a holiday of concerts and festivals, but those days are gone and the children don’t go to Festigal for a long time, so I usually work or enjoy cuddling up at home, in front of the candles in the window. But this year, the year of corona, I was at home so much that the beautiful days of the month of Ceslio called me to go out into the world before another lockdown attacked us.

Right next to the house, a short train ride, is another house: the Temple Mount, which I haven’t visited since I was a child myself.

Why? Simple as that. Always a tour of the Temple Mount compound seemed too scary, too complicated, too religious. I didn’t think of the place at all as an option for a family trip. However, the coronavirus, as you know, turned a few wheels in our heads and on this holiday I decided to visit one of the most sensitive, volatile and beautiful places in Jerusalem.

 

Some technical details before you start

  • Clothing: modest, long sleeves.
  • Special rules: There is a ban on contact between a man and a woman inside the complex.  yes,Including a friendly hug ( don’t ask me how i know that😉)
  • Another prohibition is on Jewish-prayer in the compound. It is forbidden to even bring a Bible or psalms in your bag

  • Christians are not allowded to bring religious artifacts as well.
  • There is no toilet in the area so make sure to go to use the toilets near the western wall
  • come as early as you can. a guided tour is recomended.

    The ascent to the Temple Mount is through the “Mughrabi Gate” and before the entrance there is a briefing by Border Police soldiers. There are a lot of soldiers inside the place and it feels quite safe, at least during the corona period when the whole area is quiet and pastoral.

Entring to the Temple Mount from the Mughrabi Gate

The Temple Mount has several entrances, but the Amplified Gate is the only one from which non-Muslims are allowed to enter. The gate is named after the Mughrabi neighborhood (Muslims from the Maghreb) who lived there and were evicted after 67. From the entire neighborhood, a single house remained that was registered in the Land Registry as a holy site and therefore was not destroyed, and a bridge to the Temple Mount was promoted on top of it. However, the snows that hit Jerusalem in 2004 collapsed part of the bridge, and attempts by the municipality to rebuild it met with resistance accompanied by severe riots by Palestinian residents. Thus it turned out that instead of a dignified and safe bridge, the ascent is still made today from an improvisational wooden bridge (look at the picture – does not remind you of the Maccabiah Bridge?…)

On ordinary days the place is very full and there is a wait that can be long, but we are, as we know, not really on ordinary days but in the days of corona. And everything is very quiet.

From above you can see an exciting view of the Western Wall in capsules and we are in a hurry to document for the benefit of future generations.

Temple Mount and dome of the rock itinerary

The first thing I was amazed by when we entered the complex is its size. A huge open space the size of a little less than 150 hectares! The second thing is the quiet. The few people who are in the place are engulfed in the vast space and throughout our trip we were accompanied by almost silence. The pastoral atmosphere surprised me: the chirping of birds, two Muslim families at a cheerful picnic, girls cuddling and giggling.

It turns out that apart from a holy place, the Temple Mount compound is almost the only place where there are open spaces of this scale and therefore constitutes a place of recreation for the residents of the area. The matter reached the point that a few years ago, the High Court of Justice filed a petition to stop the phenomenon of football matches held on the ground.

Because of the sanctity of the place, ancient trees that were not cut down also survived and the visit was so pastoral that it felt really surreal.

Hanukkah is the feast day of the Temple and therefore it is exciting to celebrate exactly where both the First and Second Temples stood. The Second Temple was built by Shavei Zion who returned from exile in Babylon, but the one who expanded the Temple and glorified it was actually Herod. His engineering project is evident only when standing on top of the mountain:

Since “Jerusalem has mountains around her” and the summit area is quite small, certainly for a huge temple like Herod planned, he had to be creative to increase the area. He built retaining walls around the mountain, and the cavities filled with dirt. Thousands of workers participated in the operation, who glorified the temple to such a degree that even the Sages were forced to admit that “whoever did not see Herod’s building, did not see a handsome building in his life.”

The end, we all know: the magnificent temple was destroyed by Titus (with a drop of help from internal conflicts and free hatred).

Even for those who are not religious, it is exciting to stand where the Temple once stood and feel the energy of the place.

 

 Islamic Museum

After the entrance, on the right, is the Islamic Museum with antiquities found there. I’m not sure that Jews are allowed to enter the museum and in any case it was closed at the time of the visit because of the corona. But in his yard there is a display of column titles found in the place.

I read on the Internet that some of the titles have remnants of gold that coated them. I don’t doubt, of course, what they say online, but I couldn’t find a single small kart.

 

El kas

So it turns out that the meaning of the word is a bathing facility, the purpose of which is to purify the worshippers. It was built by the Mamluks and renovated in modern times by the Jordanians.

 

Al Aqsa Mosque

When I was a child, they used to call it the “Silver Dome”. Today no one says so anymore…

It turns out that the meaning of the word “Al-Aqsa” is “the extremist.” Not…. Not extreme religiously or nationally, but geographically. It is the third holiest place for Muslims (after Mecca and Medina). Jews are not allowed to enter the building, so it can only be seen from the outside.

Independent trip to the Temple Mount

Beneath Al Aqsa,  so at least we were told, is probably the gate to the Second Temple. However, the Waqf, naturally, was not really reluctant to investigate what preceded its construction. In 1930, after an earthquake, the mosque was destroyed and a rapid excavation was carried out by the Mandatory government.And in 1979 and 1999, the Waqf conducted excavations without archaeological supervision. According to Israel, no less than 400 trucks of dirt were spilled in the nearby Kidron River. For the past few years (don’t know exactly how many) there has been an amazing project of sifting through the spilled dirt and finding antique chips in it.

Sifting the dirt is a nice activity for the whole family. (charges apply). Each round takes about two hours and can be coordinated here

In the meantime, a variety of amazing finds of all kinds were found: game cubes, balls, pottery, arrowheads and more.

Since the fourth candle of Chanukah is today, I chose from all the  “Chanukah fees” – coins from the time of Antiochus.

To see the variety of findings that were found here so far (only a small part has been filtered so far) – you can visit the website

 

Dome of the Rock

For those who are not really knowledgeable (like me) the name is a bit confusing because the Dome of the Rock is actually the Golden Dome, built in 691, and underneath it is actually the “Foundation Stone”

For those who are not really Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended from here to heaven riding a miraculous mare called “Al Burik.”

The dome of the building is gold-plated and was last renovated in 1994, with the contribution of Arab countries and using a special method designed to prevent glare.

The structure of the Dome of the Rock is simply beautiful and amazing on an international scale. I find it hard to believe that such a beautiful place is a ten-minute drive from my home, and for forty years I have not visited it. Obviously if we were now abroad we would travel for hours just to see him, wouldn’t we?

Temple Mount Independent Tour

Independent Tour of the Temple Mount

The Dome of the chain

Very close to the Dome of the Rock is an ancient and mysterious structure – a kind of “little brother”.

The Dome of the chain is considered one of the most beautiful Muslim buildings in the complex.

. The fact that no one knows exactly what it was built for contributes greatly to its mystery. Some theories speak of the fact that it marks an ancient place to have underneath it, perhaps even the place of the Ark of the Covenant or the altar of ascension of the Temple.

Archers

 arches scattered around al-Aqsa.

According to Muslim belief when a man goes under the arch, his actions are deemed good or bad.

 

Independent trip to the Temple Mount

 

The Gate of Mercy – An Inside Look

The Gate of Mercy (also called The Golden Gate) is the only one of the gates of Jerusalem (at least nowadays) that leads the Temple Mount directly outwards.

Its location raises a lot of wonders, because it is evident that it is an unsecured gate, certainly not at a level sufficient to protect such a strategic place. In Jewish tradition, the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate. Christians believe that this was the gate through which Jesus came in Jerusalem.

Near the gate, you can see an olive grove, which according to explanations is supposed to be one of the oldest in the country, but according to their appearance, it is really hard to believe…

 

 Unless it’s some kind of bonsai olive variety I’m not familiar with . In any case, the view from the wall is spectacular and the olive trees contribute to the tranquility of the holy place. As I wrote, the place has a unique atmosphere. I wonder to myself whether there really are places in the world that have a unique energy, or if I’m just imagining…

The Western Side of the Temple Mount

After completing a full turn, we returned to the fourth side of the rectangle

On our way, we passed near many more buildings: turrets, manbars, and structures that I couldn’t remember. (probably History overdose).

On the western side, not far from the Mughrabi Gate, from which we entered, is a long corridor with columns with several magnificent gates that lead to the market of the Old City.

Temple Mount compound independent visit

There is an area for the graves of Muslim dignitaries, including the tomb of King Abdullah I of Jordan, who was murdered while visiting the Temple Mount in 1951, in front of his grandson Hussein. We saw his grave through the bars in the window.

The Iron Gate:

The Iron Gate: Bab El-Hadid. The Iron Gate is located in the western part of Al-Aqsa Mosque between the Inspector’s Gate and the Cotton Merchants Gate. The gate leads to a site called  “The Little wall”.  A small  and unfamilliar part of  the same Western Wall that surrounded the Temple.

The littlel Wall is about 170 meters from the “big” Wall and in previous years was a permanent focal point (but what) for conflicts with the neighboring Muslim residents.

Unlike entry to the Temple Mount, which is only possible from the Mughrabi Gate,exit is possible from any of the gates. Other nearby gates on the western side are: the Purification Gate, the Chain Gate and the Cotton Gate.

We exited through the Cotton Merchants Gate. Which leads directly to the cotton market,

 in the past (I assume)  it served  cotton sellers and today it leads to the market were you can find  products “Made in China”. I do not exclude the possibility that some Chinese products are indeed made of cotton, so that the original designation has not changed.

 

The market in the Muslim Quarter

A lively and colorful market where you can find everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to souvenirs and clothing items. The market is secured by many soldiers, policewomen and security cameras, but those who are afraid can  simply return from the Mughrabi Gate directly to the Western Wall area.

We continued to the right on the street of the cotton sellers (Souk al-Katanan) were  we turned right on Al Gai Street, from where you can connect to the route I described in the previous post It is really worth entering and getting ideas:

(From the Lions Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre)

The visit to the Temple Mount was very exciting and spiritual, but A girl cannot live solely on her spirit… A visit to the area is incomplete without kanafeh at Ja’far’s, hummus at Abu Shukri’s or tahini at the al-Jibrini family.

. (All details-here)

 

After you have filled your spiritual and physical needs, you can head back towards Jaffa Gate, to the light rail station, or to the Mamilla parking lot.

Here we ended a trip to one of the most beautiful places in Jerusalem and perhaps in the country.

During the corona period, the Old City, the Temple Mount compound and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are relatively quiet, so it’s a great time to visit them.

I’d really love to read comments, suggestions and comments, below. You are welcome to subscribe to the mailing list and I will update every few months on new posts.

 

See you By the way!

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