It was a wonderful cool August morning and I thought it’d be a perfect day to take my friends to the Temple Mount to see the Dome of the Rock. I just two little things, that it was Ramadan and it was Friday (the Muslim prayer day). Thus the Temple Mount was closed. So no big deal I thought, we’ll just walk through the Old City’s Arab Quarter to the Damascus Gate. Big mistake.
Our first clue should have been the the dozen or so ambulances and 300 Israeli riot police in front of the Kotel (Western Wall). Our second clue that maybe we should stay in the Jewish Quarter was that when we exited the Kotel into the Arab Souk (Arab word for “market”), there were another 75 riot polices.
So we started walking through the narrow streets of the Old City and before we knew we realized that we were pushing through the crowd of nearly 150,000-300,000 Muslims on their way to prayer. Since the Israelis where expecting protests it was a slightly tense situation.
Finally made it to the Damascus Gate, where the Israeli police only allow Arab men older than 50 years and women of any age to enter the Old City for the prayers. It is a security precaution to prevent rioting. I’d never seen it done before an one of the results of this is that you have a large crowd of very aggravated young Muslim men standing and sitting in front of the gate. Well, it was that crowd that my rather touristy looking friends and I had to walk through.
(I wanted to take more/better pictures of the security but I decided it wasn’t exactly a good day to try)
So after that experience we were walking along the outside of the Old City walls when we saw the Jerusalem Light Rail was taking passengers for the first time! It was its grand opening. Naturally we went to the nearest Light Rail stop (which happened to right outside the New Gate) and waited at the platform… and waited. The first train that came was totally PACKED. Then waited some more and just before giving up and getting some ice cream a train came with barely enough room for us to fit.
Long story short, it take us 2 whole hours to go from the New Gate to Mt. Hertzel, and back to Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. :/ It was so crowed that my friend LITERALLY couldn’t get off the train, once I made it out I had to reach back into the train and physically pull them out! My impression/review of the Light Rail is to take a bus! No really.
Anyways, we made it the market just before it closed for Shabbat and enjoyed seeing all the colors and people!
We decided to top off the action-packed day by seeing even more of Jerusalem by walking an hour back to where we were staying where we enjoyed an excellent dinner to end an amazing and eventful day!
I’m a freelance photographer and cinematographer. I have extensive travel and shooting experience in North & South America, Africa, Europe, the Pacific, and the Middle East. If you have a project you’d like to contact me about working, please contact me through my website, www.JeffreyWorthington.com You can also check out my photography on
All photos, portraits, landscapes, nature, and travel photography are copyrighted 2011 by
JP Worthington, Jeffrey Worthington, & Worthington Media Inc. – Ruidoso/Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Shoot Location: Old City Jerusalem