Jerusalem downtown–old and new–is like a museum of history.

The beautiful limestone buildings and classic architecture create a visually rewarding backdrop to one’s personal imaginings about the sacred and profane acts that happened here. It’s a city of great contrasts, with orthodox Jews, secular gays, conservative Muslims, tourists and Zionist Christian pilgrims wandering the streets looking for inspiration or a good cup of coffee.

Cafes, churches, mosques and temples, money changers, souvenir hawkers, street bands and a gay bar are here. Ultra-orthodox Jews wrap themselves in big fur hats and long black coats even though the temperature is 90 degrees (F). All are part of the mosaic of this ‘holy city’ that has seen spiritual revelations and suicide bombers, blood and blessings, hateful politics and charity shelters for the homeless. Add a couple of vegetarian restaurants, some Internet shops and illegal ‘settlements’… you get the idea: a cosmopolitan stew that’s more diverse, contentious, mottled and multi-ethnic than any city in the Middle East, and speaking dozens of languages.

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