Our group is staying in Notre Dame of Jerusalem, a large hotel/guest house which accommodates groups of ‘pilgrims’ and visitors to Jerusalem. It is just outside the walls of the Old City and affords excellent views over the Old City. From my window I can see the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. We toured this ancient site yesterday. Now a Muslim Mosque, it has for centuries been a ‘holy place’ for Christians, Jews and Muslims. As Christians we are not able to go inside, but are able to walk around the huge platform that was once the site Temple of the Jews in the time of Jesus, two thousand years ago.
The topography of this place is challenging – very, very hilly, and people build on what seem to be very precarious hillsides. It seems very crowded and very different from the habitation patterns in modern Australia. It is so rocky and steep!
When the ancient people decided to build the Temple they built huge platforms to effect a flat surface as the base of the monument. This platform is supported by huge rock walls, and the city itself was surrounded by walls which have been rebuilt and extended in successive periods. The work of archaeologists in uncovering these structures has resulted in showing us some magnificent ancient remains.