The other side of the Wall: A journey to Rachel’s Tomb

To be honest with you: I first heard of the existence of Rachels Tomb when seeing the Destination Boards of Bethlehem-bound buses: Rachels’ Tomb/Checkpoint 300. It is not without irony that the place where the Hebrew Matriarch Rachel is buried now signifies a checkpoint between what can only be described as two separate countries: Israel and Palestine, and that is frequently the scene of conflict between the two flaring up. On my visit Bethlehem, I noticed how oddly the wall was shaped close to the checkpoint, it looked...

Is it safe to visit the Mount of Olives?

In peaceful times, a trip up the Mount of Olives, for the stunning view over the Old City and the Temple Mount, is part of every itinerary of Jerusalem. Wonderful vistas aside, the Mount of Olives is also one of the sites where Jesus Christ is said to have been departed the Earth to be with God. Even older is the Jewish Cemetery, which has been present on the slopes of the hill for over 3000 years and to this day is a very sought-after burial place,...

A morning on Temple Mount

The Temple Mount is part of the Old City of Jerusalem and a site revered by Jews, Christinas and Muslims, and has a dramatic history, which carries on to the present day.   For people of the Jewish faith, it is the holiest site.  It is the site of the Holiest of the Holies (Tabernacle), containing the Ark of the Covenant.  The first Temple was built by the Israelites under King Solomo around 3000 years ago around it. Following its destruction by Nebukadnezar about 450 years later, ...

Arriving in the Holy Land and Jerusalem – finally!

Jerusalem – Holy City of three faiths, contested for millennia, a destination that has long been on my list of places I wish to visit in my lifetime. For a long time, the Second Intifada put a stop to that, then I couldn’t find anyone to travel with or my mother told me she would be worried sick if I went, and I was never sure I wanted to go there all by myself.   Of course I could have joined a tour. Perhaps a Christian tour?...

West Bank Banksies, Walls and Sweet Child Jesus: a Day in Bethlehem

Bethlehem: I looked everywhere in my 2011 Bradt Guide, but couldn’t find it. No wonder… it’s in the West Bank, one of the three Palestine Territories in Israel. So, it wasn’t even in the guide! (I believe many other guides do cover the Palestine Territories, though). From everywhere, I heard words of caution about travelling to the West Bank, but travelling in relatively stable times (November 2017), I wanted to see the place Jesus was born. Somewhere in a weekend supplement, I’d read about the midnight mass...