Monday, December 26, 2022

Jerusalem, Caesarea, Haifa

Lydia and I were now ready to peruse Jerusalem.

Our loose goal was to get to the Dome of the Rock which was a pretty big pain.

I was amused by the line on this Western Wall security check point sign that reads "On Shabbat and Jewish holidays the scanner is set to Shabbat mode." I assume that that means that no one has to press any buttons and the machine works on its own.

The Western Wall which was originally built by King Herod in the first century BCE for an expansion of the Second Jewish Temple. The Dome was right on the other side of this wall. Ok. There was a map that showed an entrance near the wall as the way to the Dome. Ok. So we started walking over there and were stopped by a couple of god's little warriors because that was the men's side of the wall. Ok.

We wandered around a bit and found another entrance but we were then rudely stopped by some Israeli police who informed us that that entrance was only for Muslims. Ok. Why they assumed we weren't Muslim is an interesting question for another time.

Eventually we found a wooden bridge thing that sort of went over the wall to get to the Dome. I believe our Dome window was limited because at a certain point god wants all of the people of one religion to leave and all the people of another religion can then come and pray at the Dome. Ok. You can see the little arch door thing over there that we were shamefully attempting to use.

I liked the Dome of the Rock a lot aesthetically. I've seen a lot of Islamic architecture at this point. It turns out this building is special.

"The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: قبة الصخرة, romanized: Qubbat aṣ-Ṣakhra) is an Islamic shrine at the center of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. Its initial construction was undertaken by the Umayyad Caliphate on the orders of Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna in 691–692 CE, and it has since been situated on top of the site of the Second Jewish Temple (built in c. 516 BCE to replace the destroyed Solomon's Temple and rebuilt by Herod the Great), which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The original dome collapsed in 1015 and was rebuilt in 1022–23. The Dome of the Rock is the world's oldest surviving work of Islamic architecture."

We walked around a bit and were then confronted by a little boy who did not speak English but managed to communicate that he wanted Lydia to cover her hair. God is angered by hair so it was a good thing this child was on hand to inform us of the holy holy rules.

I was very annoyed with all of these weirdos by this point so it was a good thing I found a bagel man. They are called Jerusalem bagels but I think being in a ring shape is their only similarity. The Palestinians call them ka’ak. Anyway I didn't have any change so I paid this nice man $20 for a big bagel, some falafel, and a couple of hard boiled eggs.

The food was great so I consider it a win. Plus it was a nice little off-the-beaten-path experience as I had to sort of invade a basement bakery to obtain it. I'm not certain I was even supposed to be down there.

We went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to see if the christians could be as annoying as the other flavors. They did not disappoint.

"The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or Church of the Resurrection, is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is considered to be the holiest site for Christians in the world, as it has been the most important pilgrimage site for Christianity since the 4th century.

According to traditions dating back to the 4th century, it contains two sites considered holy in Christianity: the site where Jesus was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus's empty tomb, which is where he was buried and resurrected. Each time the church was rebuilt, some of the antiquities from the preceding structure were used in the newer renovation. The tomb itself is enclosed by a 19th-century shrine called the Aedicule. The Status Quo, an understanding between religious communities dating to 1757, applies to the site.

Within the church proper are the last four stations of the Cross 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 4th century, as the traditional site of the resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis ('Resurrection')."

This little building under the church's dome is called the Aedicule, "which contains the Holy Sepulchre itself. The Aedicule has two rooms, the first holding the Angel's Stone, which is believed to be a fragment of the large stone that sealed the tomb; the second is the tomb itself."

There was an annoying man in charge of Jesus' tomb who yelled at you to move faster, etc. He also yelled at you to not take pictures.

No sooner had that annoying man's voice left my ears did the lord come to me in a vision and say "John, I want you to take an absolute ass ton of photos in here my dude." Praise be.

I think this is supposed to be Jesus' tomb.

View of the ceiling of the same tomb room. No zoom. Like four steps back in the same tiny building is called the "Chapel of the Angel because it is where the angel appeared to Mary Magdalene when she was looking for Jesus’ body." She seemed to be awfully darn close already at that point. Very curious. I wonder if it was like a fun "you're getting warmer" sort of party game. I love those.

"The Stone of Anointing, also called the Stone of Unction (from Latin, unctio, meaning; the action of anointing someone with oil or ointment as a religious rite or as a symbol of investiture as a monarch), according to Christian tradition this is the slab where the body of Jesus was prepared for burial."

Jerusalem kind of reminds of of Springfield, where every two feet something historically significant took place, just exchanging Jesus for Abraham Lincoln.

The altar at the traditional site of Golgotha, or Calvary, "a site immediately outside Jerusalem's walls where, according to Christianity's four canonical gospels, Jesus was crucified." This church ended up being a one stop Walmart of Jesus' greatest hits. 

I told Lydia that if she didn't act right I was definitely going to buy a crown of thorns and wear it around town.

We rented another car and bounced.

We drove north to where things made sense: the ancient Roman ruin of Caesarea Palaestinae.

"The site was first settled in the 4th century BCE as a Phoenician colony and trading village known as Straton's Tower[5] after the ruler of Sidon. It was enlarged in the 1st century BCE under Hasmonean rule, becoming a Jewish village;[6] and in 63 BCE, when the Roman Republic annexed the region, it was declared an autonomous city. It was then significantly enlarged in the Roman period by the Judaean client king Herod I, who established a new harbour and dedicated the town and its port to Caesar Augustus as Caesarea."

"Caesarea's Harbor - Gateway to the West

Caesarea's harbor (Sebastos) was dedicated in the spring of either 10 or 9 BCE. It was one of the most sophisticated man-made harbors of its time, and the largest and boldest in concept. Its construction merged traditional methods with innovative engineering techniques, including artificial deep-water islands as foundations of the piers and breakwaters.

The harbor could accommodate hundreds of vessels, and a diverse network of maritime trade routes connected it to Mediterranean lands. In the later Muslim and Crusader periods, Caesarea continued its Mediterranean trade relations, though reduced in scale."

I was kind of surprised how much of this ancient ruin they allowed to sit with standing water on top of it.

I've learned that whenever you see little tile pillars arranged like this that it is a Roman bathhouse.


Fun fact, a violent incident that occurred in Caesarea in 66 led to a Jewish revolt that resulted in the First Jewish–Roman War. This war ended with the Roman stomping of Masada(which we visited earlier in this trip) in 74. The Romans sacking Jerusalem and taking its treasures as spoils is commemorated with the Arch of Titus in Rome(which we visited earlier this year).

I thought this map of the different sources of the stone for the city was pretty cool.

I thought that the non-square surface that the projected this visitor center film onto was a nice touch.

We had a nice meal at Limani Bistro inside the park.

This place had more general Mediterranean food which was a nice change of pace. For a starter we had "Josper beets, baked beet in a charcoal oven, served with whipped labane cheese, hazelnuts and cilantro."

This baby was a 

"chicken soufleki

grilled chicken skewer, served on top of Greek bread with tahini, gout yogurt and roasted vegetables"

We stayed the night in Haifa, Israel, which was surprisingly pumped about Christmas.

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