Jerusalem Knights and Dragons Festival

A priority for City Hall has been to encourage

 visitors to come at night to the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel.

  And the current ‘Festival of Knights in the Old City’ has done the job.

Jaffa Gate at night

Jaffa Gate is the starting point for the ‘Knights and Dragons’ theme,

Map Old City Christian Quarter

where a large map of the Christian Quarter route is displayed

 Jafffa Gate

and musicians entertain.

Jaffa Gate

Smart families got a map with the 17 station locations,

Dragon, Jaffa Gate

but does not include the many moving ‘photo ops’.

Last week I went early,

crowd at Jaffa Gate

as good photographs are hard to get at these crowded events. 

Dragon head

Near the beginning of the route was this colorful dragon head.

Castle

A cardboard castle and its defending knight were ready for photo action,

Knights Inn

near the real Knights’ Palace.

alley way

One lane was dark,

Dragon, Knight Festival Old City

but most were well-lit and many costumes added color.

actors in costume

 Actors were ready for the shows to begin.

Barber shop Old city

A barber shop was open under one of the red festival signs,

actors in costumes

which pointed to the actors getting ready in Muristan Square.

As I said, smart people took a map.

This was not the first time I got confused at Muristan Square

street Old City

and headed in the wrong direction, 

but this was the first night of Eid Al-Adha, the Muslim ‘Feast of Sacrifice’.

It was so crowded on the narrow paths

that I did not get a photo of the smelly animal being pushed in a cart.

His sad eyes seemed to know he was going to be the feast.

Arab woman and man, nijab

Following closely to an English-speaking tourist group,

I got only this one picture of a candy store.  

Finally,

spotting a sign to the Via Dolorosa, I headed out of the Muslim Quarter.

men smoking water pipes

Retracing some of my route, I noticed these smokers were gone,

 the lane was dark and quiet for festival visitors.

actors in Muristan Square

The actors were in Muristan Square and so was the “EXIT” sign.

signs Knights Jerusalem, Old City shuk

I do not know if the free Jerusalem Knights Festival

brought paying customers to shops, but many more were open

than for the first night of the Festival in October 2010.

gladiators, Old City , Jaffa Gate

Back near Jaffa Gate, large crowds were watching gladiators fight

girls dancing

and dancing-girls.

kids at Jerusalem festival, Jaffa Gate

Hundreds of families, many with young children,

seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Many children were on their parents’ shoulders,

as it was very hard to see the performers.

I found a bench to stand on, 

picture children on balcony

but I think this family had the best view.

Picture Jerusalem at night

And as usual, when tens of thousands of people come,

 the Jerusalem streets fill with traffic in all directions.

photo Jerusalem festival knights

There are still two more Thursday nights in November to enjoy the festival.

If you cannot come and want to see more:

 additional photos on The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook page.

After the Fasts

Not eating or drinking is called a “fast,”

but without water and morning coffee…”slow” would be more accurate for me.

 The Tisha B’Av fast started on Monday, August 8, 2011 at nightfall,

this post should have been out on Tuesday, but even after the fast…sorry–still slow.

 Mourning the destruction of Jerusalem in the reunified Jerusalem

is a unique experience.

 Tens of thousands of people gather at the Kotel, the Western Wall,

and sit on low chairs or on the stones to recite the sad verses of Eicha and Kinot.

For so many centuries,  The Book of Lamentations asks…Alas, how could it be?

Some opt to sit

 alone,

while others prefer to sit in small groups.  Many stay all night.

As the Jewish Quarter closed for the fast day,

 much of the Muslim Quarter was open

with colorful displays of food to break the Ramadan fast.

Colored lights lined the way of most

but not all the alleyways.

For the seventeenth year in a row,

  Women in Green assembled a large group in Gan Ha’atzmaut, Independence Park

 for prayers and speeches, followed by a walk around the walls of the Old City.

This year they shared the park with the “tent city” protesters

and the night with Ramadan celebrations.

 The march was to begin at 11 pm, much later than usual because of Ramadan.

 For the first time the marchers had to watch out for an empty light rail train.

  It was well after midnight when the group arrived at

Sha’ar Shechem,  the Damascus Gate.

Street vendors and Israeli flags filled the sidewalk and on to the street

 and families and more vendors kept coming.

 Security personnel watched the quiet scene.

After passing Herod’s and Lion’s Gates


the end of the route was in sight.

Dozens of idle buses lined the road ready to transport

 the hundreds of people still coming and going after 1:00am.

The Kotel entrance plaza was a busy place all night.

Near Jaffa Gate a new table was set up to sell photos of the Baba Elazar z”l.

While tens of thousands of people were out on Tisha B’Av in the Old City,

a few minutes away this normally busy intersection was deserted.

This year, Ramadan coincides with the month of August,

so devout Muslims will fast all day and at night crowds will gather to eat and shop.

Abu Sharif, a member of the PLO and former advisor to Arafat,

has called for “Friday intifadas during Ramadan”.

Walking around the Walls on Tisha B’Av concluded peacefully.

Last year thousands of Muslims prayed in Jerusalem every Friday of Ramadan.

It is possible to share the streets of Jerusalem peacefully.

 After the fast, as Israelis head to the airport and up north on vacation

…at least the streets should be a little less crowded.

 

More photos of  Walking around the Walls on The Real Jerusalem Facebook Page.