This program is designed for tourists who want to see Architecture from the Islamic Conquest in the 7th century through the Crusades and later Mamluk/Ottoman Periods.
Our day begins at the iconic Temple Mount.
Just past the Entrance we will walk by a collection of capitals which were removed from the al Aqsa Mosque following an earthquake in 1927. We can see various styles here and even point out ones which were created during the Crusader Period to adorn some of their buildings atop the Mount.
While we can examine the Dome of the Rock as tourists, as non-Muslims we are not allowed inside. The building itself was commissioned in 683 by Abd al Malik and is the oldest Islamic shrine in the world which is still mostly original. We will have a chance to view up close some of the marble decor which has interesting patterns. Adjacent to the Dome of the Rock is the Dome of the Chain (cover photo) which has a few surprises of its own.
We should have time to investigate other areas of the Temple Mount. On the eastern side we can see the inside area of the double arched Golden Gate.
At the southern end is the newly excavated al Marwani Mosque. The construction for this underground structure was approved in 1999 but the excavation was done illegally and haphazardly. We will discuss its ramifications here.
Leaving the Mount, in the Muslim Quarter we will walk to St. Anne’s Church which was built by Queen Melisende to commemorate the mother of Mary. In 1187 after capturing Jerusalem Saladin turned it into an Islamic school which is the reason it is the best preserved Crusader church in the country. We can examine its elements and if we are lucky, the monks will be singing in the choir.
Leaving the confines of the Old City, we will walk to the Rockefeller Museum to check out some artwork related to our last stop. We will be able to examine some reliefs and try to interpret their messages. This will be a good time to take a Lunch break. Afterwards, we will regroup at the Tower of David for our tour’s continuation.
The Tower of David is one of the emblematic symbols of the city. The Crusader King Baldwin III even put it on his seal signifying his enduring legacy (the city would fall to Saladin only 40 years later). Known as the Citadel it was used as a fortress as recently as the Jordanian occupation but now serves as a museum for the history of the city
It is a short walk from here to our final destination for the day: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Originally built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century it was reconstructed in the 11th and 12th centuries. Upon entering we will discuss the history and function of the separate parts as well as the Christian denominations which control specific areas. As per today’s theme we will examine those parts of the complex which were added or changed from the original 4th century building.