The Long and Winding #travelswithanopenmind

The top photo on the left is of The Tower of David which is located in Jerusalem. The picture on the left and bottom are of the Western Wall, also located in Jerusalem.

1 March 2014

Today I went to visit the Tower of David and the Western Wall in Jerusalem,Israel. Both sites are of the many sacred places important to the people of the Jewish faith. During my travels i learned that the Tower of David is actually a citadel near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City walls in Jerusalem. I really enjoyed the night light and sound show, projected onto the walls of the citadel. The Tower of David is a major piece of architecture, in part for its history. It sits on the highest hill top available in the area and has been developed and changed over the many years that it has been around. The Tower off David is very historically important to the origin of the people who lived there. The citadel was initially used as protection for the Old City.While in Jerusalem, I also visited the Western Wall, Wailing Wall, or the Kotel. The Western Wall, is considered holy due to its direct connection with the Temple Mount. The Kotel is the remnant of the Herodian retaining wall that once enclosed the Second Temple. The Wailing Wall, given by the European visitors because the Jews have come for many years mourning the destruction of one of their former temple. The Western Wall isn't just a tourism spot though, the Western Wall Plaza, the large open area that faces the Western Wall and functions as an open-air synagogue that tens of thousands of worshipers can come and worship at. Another interesting thing I learned at the Kotel is that the different layers and sections of stones (ashlars) are from different times and that one section of the wall was carved with such precision that the fit perfectly on top of each other without needing any mortar. I plan to stay here a few more days and then head out to the city of Mecca! Stay tuned for more exciting travel information! : )

The two top pictures are of the Misjid al-Haram in the city of Mecca. The two bottom pictures are of the Great Mosque in Damascus, Syria.

6 March 2014

The city of Mecca is has large beautiful religious architecture and sacred sites, I can't believe how amazing it all is! The Islamic Sacred site I visited in Mecca, Saudi Arabia was the Masjid al-Haram mosque, also called "The Great Mosque of Mecca" or "The Grand Mosque". Masjid al-Haram is the largest mosque in the world, the mosque surrounds one of Islam's holiest places, Kaaba. While visiting I got to see many people perform Salat, which is done as the face the direction of the Kaaba. To witness something like that was very interesting and culturally diverse from the western practices I'm accustomed to. I mainly stayed in the outdoor praying area, but there was also space inside. While visiting I learned many different things, one of which is that every year there's a gathering set here called Hajj which is like a mass praying. And every Muslim is required to pay pilgrimage at least once in their life.I took a short flight to Syria from Saudi Arabia and decided to visit the famous Islamic architecture of the Great Mosque. This is an amazing piece of Islamic architecture, it imitates old Christian architecture with the use of features such as domes, columnar arches, and mosaics. However, it also includes the more Islamic-like large courts for prayer and a mihrab. The mihrab is a niche in the mosque that point to the nearest direction to Mecca which is the direction the congregation faces to pray. I was intrigued to see the difference and similarities in visiting another major mosque, in a different country.

The two left picture are of one of the holy cities called Ayodhya. The picture to the right is of Meenakshi Amman Temple in Tamil Nadu, India.

8 March 2014

Today I was able to visit Ayodhya, which is one of the many Holy Cities of the Hindu religion. The Holy Cities are the places Hindus come to pay pilgrimage. The city is located in India and is believed to be the birth place of Rama, a very important figure in the Hindu religion. Ayodhya is also the setting of the epic Ramayana which is an ancient poem which narrates the struggles of Rama, the divine prince, to rescue his wife. Ayodyha is a place with buildings covered in many different vibrant colours and beautiful waterways. This sacred site had much to offere me, as it was an entire city instead of a very small associated area.While in India I also got to visit the enormous Meenakshi Amman temple. Its the symbol of the Maduri city, dedicated to Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathy or Meenakshi. The temple has fourteen gopuras, pyramidal gates that rise to a height between forty to fifty meters. The four tallest of the gopuras stand as entrances and the smaller ones direct to the main shrines. I got to visit and enter through the gopuras while at the temple. The multi-storeyed gopuras of the Meenakshi temple are also carved with figures of animals, gods, and demons. This piece of the grand architecture is what I found most beautiful and intriguing. However, even still more interesting was the art gallery inside the temple that displays drawings, photos. and icons that illustrate ancient Indian temple architecture.

The Maya Devi Temple is to the left. The center and right pictures are of the Wat Arun.

11 March 2014

My latest adventure has been to the Maya Devi Temple, and ancient Buddhist temple in Lumbini, Nepal. Its the main temple at Lumbini, the site that is considered the birth place of Gautama Buddha. Gautama Buddha is the man who's teachings the entire religion of Buddhism is based. He's recognized as the enlightened or divine one of the Buddhist religion. The sacred pool and garden are adjacent to the Maya Devi Temple.Then I took a hop skip and a jump over to Thailand to visit the temple of Wat Arun. Wat Arun is located in Banfkok Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand and is one of Thailand's most well known landmarks. The very reflective surfaces of the temple reflect the first light of morning everyday. The main feature of the Wat Arun is its central prang, encrusted with colourful porcelain. The corners are surrounded by four smaller satellite prang, which are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain that had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China. Next to the central prang is the Ordination Hall with a Niramitr Buddha image, supposedly designed bu King Rama the second. The Ordination Hall's front entrance has a roof with a central spire, decorated in coloured ceramic and stuccowork sheated in coloured china. There are two temple guardian figures, or demons in front of the Ordination Hall.

The two top pictures are of Nazareth. The two bottom pictures are of the St. Peter's Basilica.

14 March 2014

Visiting the city of Nazareth in Israel has been one of my favorite stops on this entire trip. As I am a Christian, this city has a lot of importance for many Christians and Christian pilgrimage. Nazareth is said to be the city in which Jesus himself grew up. There are many shrines in the city that commemorate different major biblical events. Walking the streets of Nazareth gave me the chance to really try and experience how Jesus felt and what he saw when he walked the same streets. There's just so much to see, there are many different religious sites everywhere you go. Nazareth also happens to be the largest Arab cit in Israel. While visiting I got to see; Mount Precipice, the Church of the Annunciation, Basilica of Annunciation with its new garden, St. Joseph Church, Mary's Well, and Jesus Table. The churches contained stained glass windows with glorious depictions that look magnificent when the light hit them just right.I then hopped on a plane and flew to Rome, Italy and visited St. Peter's Basilica. Simply the architecture of this majestic church is jaw dropping all on its own, let alone that its one of the largest churches in the word and that its one regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. Not only is all of that true to this amazing building, but it is also supposedly the burial site of St. Peter himself, the architecture who designed and ensured its construction. St. Peter's Basilica has the classic multi columned type of architecture most ancient Catholic building have. The church had the broad arches and stained class windows, very stereotypical Catholic church. However, it had very unique elements and a very memorable aura to it.

Credits:

Created with images by Olivia Ortiz Asenita Fernandez - "World Peace" • dweekly - "Tower of David, Jerusalem" • www.hacienda-la-colora.com - "Jerusalem, Israel - Western Wall - Mur des lamentations - Mur occidental - Photo image picture" • Podknox - "The Western Wall #jerusalem #ww2 #r&r" • kashifaziz - "IMAG0200" • Basheer Olakara - "Masjid Al Haram" • VinothChandar - "Happy Temple Friday :)" • kudumomo - "Maya Devi Temple" • Jahlearn studio - "wat arun" • Tyler Merbler - "Gold Row" • Bob Linsdell - "St. Peter's Basilica, Rome (150370)"

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