Thru the Lens: The Temple Mount in Jerusalem
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is probably the most hotly contested piece of real estate in the world, mainly owing to its significance as a holy site in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The site has a long and storied history which I won’t get into here because it’s just too complicated and verbose to write about. But regardless of what you believe in, you can’t ignore the fact that there’s a huge golden dome, aka the Dome of the Rock, on the site beckoning travelers to marvel at its beauty. The site sits within the walls of Jerusalem’s old city and can be accessed via an elevated walkway south of the Western Wall, near the Dung Gate.
The best time to enter is early in the morning right when it opens since the visiting hours are quite restricted. The opening times vary by the season and can change at a moment’s notice. In general, it’s open for about 4 hour in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. I arrived at 07:30 and there were maybe 30 people already queuing. The site was blissfully empty for most of the time I was there, but after an hour I started to notice very large groups of tourists arriving. Be prepared to go through tight security to enter the site. Jewish visitors were required to be accompanied by security staff when I was there. Regulations can change at a moment’s notice but thankfully entry is free 🙂
The other main structure at the Temple Mount is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the 3rd holiest site in Islam. You can only enter if you are Muslim. Same goes for the Dome of the Rock, you can only go inside if you are Muslim (if I’m not mistaken). Speaking of entry, you should bring photo ID with you and dress modestly. For men and women that generally means you should be covered up from your neck to your feet. T-shirts and long skirts are OK but it’s best not to toe the line.
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