I did. Touched it and looked up and this was above the centre of the universe:
The centre of the universe itself was a small funnel quite low to the ground with what looked like an ashtray attached to it.
No commercial tour guides here, just an assurance that this, little funnel thing is the centre of the universe. So what do you do faced with the centre of the universe? Well you uniformly reach out and touch it with your hand. Like everyone else does. And the centre of the universe felt cold. And I looked up and this was above and the angelic chorus of strings kicked in, except they didn't but they should have done.
This place is incredible.
Old (walled city, up there, top-middle) and New (spreading and sprawling over holy mountains).
Mostly I'm blown away by the stories and the fantasies that have sprung from this one tiny city and have shaped, formed and defined the shape of this world we all freak out in. All the havoc wreaked. Death. Creation. Magic. Wonder. Beauty. Savagery. Kindness.
These faiths that consume and won't be shaken.
All from this little city.
From a little piece of holy rock in this little city.
And now here the hustling religions they are metres from each other. One of the most holiest (third after Medina & Mecca?) Muslim mosques (with real gold leaf dome courtesy of the King of Jordan) just seconds away from the Jewish worshipped Western (Wailing) Wall. The Muslim tannoy call to prayer soundtracks the Jewish faithful placing there messages in the Western Wall, praying, getting as close as they can to their piece of the rock. Their holy site, the second temple.
And just around the corner the Christians and their Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which pretty much houses everything to do with the crucifiction of Jesus. Some seriously heavyweight Christian stuff in here.You can climb the hill and touch the actual rock that Jesus' crucifix was mounted upon.
There's a lot of touching of things here.
There's a lot of people losing their shit. Completely consumed. But there is something mesmerising and beautiful about it. This city means so much to people, a ridiculously intense significance and pull that still holds out after thousands of years. People have killed and have been killed just to be here. People have died trying to get here. And now it's a melting pot; Christian quarter, Jewish Quarter, Muslim Quarter and the (much more private and downtempo) Armenian Quarter. This beautifully rich co-existence. No tourism. Not really. You can walk Jesus' last walk, whether you believe in his existence or not you can't deny the feeling of absolute history and the fascination of the story. You can feel it in the ancient limestone you're walking on. You see how the brutal crusaders have influenced architecture and design and how the many differences between the orthodox and the Roman and the Muslim styles have influenced the modern world. Among all the wars and conquering small acts of respect and kindness that have changed futures and maintained difference.
This little city.
At times it's hard to get the Life of Brian out of my head. There's monks in full robes walking around. Jesus guys that actually look like Jesus in bare feet walking about. Heavy metal looking dudes in robes with long hair and beards and beads. Japanese Christian pilgrims singing together at every station of the cross. You can borrow giant crucifixes and carry the burden around town if you want.
But it's so cool.
So many different kinds of people.
Makes Dalston look about as culturally diverse as Henley-on-Thames.
Wall and dome.
Churches and mosques and churches and mosques.
Your new band name.
Just an arch from a hundred and something AD. No big deal.
Kiss for magic.
Mount of Olives.
A mountain of rock cut tombs and secret tunnels and passages.