The Muslim Quarter
The Muslim Quarter is the largest of the old city's neighborhoods. It's a confusing array of narrow alleys that are wonderful to wander in, get lost, and stumble upon surprising discoveries.
Despite it's name, the area also houses a large number of important Christian institutions. The Muslim quarter begins at the northern city wall, goes south to the northern and western walls of the Temple Mount, to Hashalshelet Street, where the Jewish Quarter begins. To the West, it runs to Beit Chabad Street, which runs between it and the Christian Quarter.
Arabs moved back into the quarter after the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladdin in 1187. They were joined by Jews from Tsfat in the 1800's and in the late 1800's there were more Jews than Muslims living in the Muslim Quarter. The two populations coexisted peacefully until the Arab riots of 1929, when the Jews fled. Jews began returning to the quarter after 1967, and today the area houses several Jewish educational institutions.
The exciting, bustling shuk - market - is a focal point of the Muslim quarter. In fact, there are several such markets, although they blend together in a confusing maze of alleys. Some of these markets existed already in Crusader times, some in Roman times and perhaps much earlier than that. There is a spice market (a continuation of the Cardo, the commerical boulevard built by the Romans), a butcher's market, the Gold Market - which today sells mostly textile. Although many of the shops cater to tourists, the further in you venture, the more authentic your experience will be.
Here, you'll also find mosques, caranvanserai, travelers' hospices and bath houses that date from the Mameluk period (1267-1517).
There are several structures on the Temple Mount. The most famous is the Noble Sanctuary, better known as the Dome of the Rock. Contrary to popular misconception, the Dome of the Rock is not a mosque, but a shrine.
Visiting hours: Sat-Thu 8:30-11:30 and 13:30-15:00 in the summer; 7:30-10:30 and 12:30-13:00 in the winter. There is a fee for entrance to the Islamic Museum.
Closed on Fridays and Muslim holidays. Note also that Jewish religious law forbids Jews from ascending the Temple Mount.
If you cannot actually enter the Temple Mount, you can get a good view of the complex from the view point above the steps that come down from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall plaza.
Return from The Muslim Quarter to the Old City: Experience the Holy City Jerusalem.
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