Sing: They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love, TFWS 2223
The Muslim Quarter is the largest and most populated (approximately 20,000) of the four quarters in The Old City. Developed by Herod the Great, organized by the Christian Byzantine Empire, and then occupied by the Christian Crusaders, even this section is full of churches and Christian shrines. The main streets, El-Wad (which leads to the Damascus Gate) and Via Dolorosa (which runs from the Lions Gate to intersect El-Wad), are bazaars with Muslim shopkeepers ready to sell the Christian Pilgrim a plastic crucifix or olive wood nativity set. When Jesus walked through these streets to his crucifixion they were busy even then and would have been filled with shops. Closer to the Temple Mount buildings from the Mamelukes’ reconstruction of the city from 1250 to 1516 can be seen. This area today preserves some of the fine medieval Islamic architecture.
The Jewish Quarter is a thriving modern community with more than 1,000 families. It has been rebuilt out of the rubble that was left from the Jordanian occupation of the area from 1948 until the Six Day War of 1967. Since the destruction was severe, the Jews who returned to The Old City in 1967 excavated the quarter’s archaeological remains first and then built their city over, around and beside the ancient discoveries. Today there are numerous synagogues and schools for Jewish studies, along with contemporary shops and restaurants up and down the streets. The ancient Roman Cardo Street (135 AD) with its old Byzantine bazaar (325 AD) has been preserved and is filled with trendy new businesses that sell a wide variety of items, including original art work by local artists. It also has a hamburger shop that makes really good burgers.
The Christian Quarter is the most visited quarter of the Old City because it includes the site of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection - the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This quarter is cluttered with a seemingly endless array of churches and holy sites whose roofs, domes and facades are built so close together that they are at times indistinguishable from one another. The streets are filled with narrow storefronts leading into shops that continue long narrow paths to the back. The market streets are noisy with modern pilgrims and shopkeepers trying to lure them into their stores.