The Temple Mount is one of the world’s most sacred spots. It has been identified as the biblical Mount Moriah. Arabs name it Haram es Sharif, the Noble Courtyard.
It was here that Solomon created the First Temple. After its destruction, it was replaced by the Second Temple. The Wailing Wall is a remnant of the 2nd century CE wall that once supported the Temple Mount.
At the center of the Temple Mount stands the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra). The shrine is built over the sacred Rock (Sakhra) on which Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac/Ishmael and from which Mohammed is said to have ascended to Heaven.
Iran – Esfahan, Jameh Mosque.
The stone mihrab, which indicates the direction of Mecca, is decorated with tiling and calligraphy and also carries the traces of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian symbolism played an important part in Iranian art and some aspects of Zoroastrianism still appeal to Iranian Muslims.
It is interesting to note that Persian churches often incorporate Islamic features.
Turkey – Istanbul, Saint Antoine Church.
The Franciscan church burned down in 1660, upon which the Franciscans were given another site. Two centuries later they built themselves this neo-gothic building that throws its doors open to all on Christmas Eve for a mass that has become a traditional event in the life of Istanbul.
An ordinary day, two conservative Muslim women visiting the Church.
Turkey – Mersin, Mersin City Cemetery.
Mersin City Cemetery, a place which for 63 years has given the lie to the issue of conflicting religions. In this cemetery Muslims, Orthodox, Syrian Christians, Catholics and Jews are buried side by side. It is very rarely that we find those who are followers of any of these three religions being interred side-by-side.
It is said that in Helsinki, Finland, there is a similar cemetery, but there the remains of members of different religions do not lie side by side but are buried in separate areas of the graveyard. This rare occurrence in Mersin is a great asset for the city, whose citizens accept the communal graveyard as entirely natural. This cemetery brings together not only the members of the three major religions but also the sects of Christianity. It sends out a common message from all three religions. It is a symbol of peace. When these people have lived together, used the same coffee houses, dined in the same restaurants and shared the same pastures, burying them in separate cemeteries would have been unfair.