>> Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Walking around the Old City of Jerusalem is a study in contrasts in so many ways. The omnipresent washed-out tan stone from which everything is built seems to disappear next to the shockingly bright colors in the markets. The brutal hot sun beating down on 95+ degree days, seems like an other universe from the cool dark serenity of caves or churches. The Hijab and Abaya (often black despite the hot sun) worn by Muslim women, contrasts dramatically with the tank tops and short skirts worn by their young daughters, and by many of the tourists.
More conservative dress is recommended for visitors to the Old City, by the way - skirts below the knees for women, no shorts, no bare shoulders, and a scarf available for a head covering as needed. If you show up at any of the holy sites, they'll turn you away if you have bare knees or shoulders, or else tour group leaders will provide cheap and cheezy scarves to wrap around you, or you can buy a scarf from an adjacent vendor who sets his prices with desperate shorts-clad American tourists in mind.
And always, everywhere in the Old City, there is a shock of contrast between ancient and new, which these photos show some of.
This shot is on the ramparts looking out.
Cars are not seen much inside the walls of the Old City, presumably largely because they simply don't fit, but they are spotted in a few places and seem wildly out of context.
View from the roof of the Austrian Hostel. The green dome is the Ecce Homo Convent. And in the foreground? A lovely rusty dish antenna.
Any time I left the walls of the Old City, I went into culture shock. This is the Mamilla Mall, just outside the Jaffa Gate. It's filled with ultra fashionable shops and restaurants, and people dressed in clothing that they could easily be wearing in the US - a sharp contrast with the more conservative dress of everyone except tourists within the Old City.
In this shot, I have the walls of the Old City at my back, as I wander through an archaeological garden containing various ruins and even old tombs. The sound of the traffic seemed so out of place. And yet most of Jerusalem is a fairly modern city.
A glimpse of the newer city through the Old City wall.