Jerusalem essentials

Simply put, Jerusalem is one of the most interesting cities of our planet.

The incredibly rich and complex history, the endless number of beautiful buildings and the terrific eclectic cuisine… I will let the photos speak for themselves, just occasionally throwing in a sentence or two.

One of the oldest cities of the world, and one importance of which has never diminished, Jerusalem bursts at the seams with relics. Canaanites, Israelites, Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, Crusaders, Brits, kings and emperors, soldiers and pilgrims, so many feet have trodden its streets!

I know you know, but let the next three pictures remind you of the fact that Jerusalem is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

The old town is not the only interesting neighborhood. I photographed the warning board you see above in a district inhabited by Orthodox Jews.

There are so many aspects and sources that characterize the local cuisine: the Levantine Arab cookery, the centuries of Ottoman rule, the European and African influences transplanted here with the settlers together with Hebraic dietary traditions, and then the land itself… A country small in size but blessed with biodiversity, tucked between snow-caped mountrains in the north, the Mediterranean in the west and arid deserts in the south.

The three photos below were taken in Ein Karem, a charming village slash neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. Charming cafes and churches, tranquil hillside walks along lemon and almond trees – a visit here is a must while in Jerusalem.

The Israel Museum is considered to be one of the best in the world so I had quite high expectations. It is indeed impressive. The selection of artifacts is splendid: varied but not overwhelming, informative but not overplayed. Apart from those gathered in the country, some represent the broader Middle East region, like the Assyrian relief with a date palm you see below. (The ‘tree of life’ motif haunts me as I travel – I encountered and photographed it in Sichuan and many other places – maybe I will summarize it in one blog entry one day?).

Jar of figs carbonized by fire in antiquity. Figs from the 13th century BCE, how cool is that?
An exhibitons of paintings by Zoya Cherkassky enriched the museum with the context of the 1990s wave of immigration from the Soviet Union.

Check also my similar post on Bethlehem – here, and another one on Hebron – here.