Since its opening in 1998, the Centre for Jerusalem Studies as part of al-Quds University has placed a special focus on preserving Palestinian cultural heritage via a weekly al-Quds Tours activity of what remains of the city's architecture and civilizations. These walking tours take place mostly in the Old City showing the cultural heritage, the political and social facets of the city, from Canaanite, Crusadors, Mamluk and Ottoman Jerusalem to the settlements scene, the Israeli wall and areas with mass house demolition. Moreover, once in a month we visit one of the cities in the country. The tours are organized regularly for the local and International community, students and friends of the centre.
Al-Quds alternative tours aims to show the multi-facets of the city & its mosaic, from a Palestinian perspective. It visit holy & historical sites, from topography, geography, archeology to politics; the most thrilling is the social fabric as the inhabitants of each époque make the city's vibrant identity. These in depth tours are usually on Saturdays.
Al-Quds Tours - Inside Jerusalem
The Noble Sanctuary
Although the various elements of the mosque vary cross culturally yet its various components conform to Moslem theological doctrines regarding function. El Aqsa mosque, as one of the great masterpieces of Moslem Architecture, best exemplifies the defining elements of a mosque. Although distinctly different from Jum’a Mosque in Timbuktu in West Africa, Iben Tulun Mosque in Cairo or that of Masjid Jami’ in Isfahan yet they all conform to Moslem guidelines that delineate the architectural aesthetic elements that constitute the layout and design of the major prayers halls and the various subsidiary constructions.
In El Aqsa mosque the various domes, meditation rooms, theological colleges (madrassah), ablution fonts are architectural gems and a veritable archive of all those Khalifs, Sultans, Princes and Kings from the Ummayyad, Fatimide, Mamluke, Ottoman and Jordanian periods who sought to immortalize their name by associating themselves with the holy site where the transfiguration of Prophet Mohammad, the meeting with God, took place.
Though it took over twelve centuries for the El Aqsa mosque complex to assume its present form yet the various buildings blend harmoniously together in a design that is blatantly asymmetrical. Using Euclidean and Pythagorean geometry as a point of departure the local builders succeeded to create an oriental concept of great aesthetic beauty based on asymmetry that is a world masterpiece. Once in el Aqsa we are inside a dynamically designed installation, a multifaceted work of art that reveals different dimensions as we experience it spatially in the early morning sunlight.
The Fourteen Stations of the Via Dolorosa
Join us for a walking tour on the medieval classical route of the Via Dolorosa which in Latin translates into "Way of Grief" or "Way of Suffering". The Via Dolorosa or Tariq Al Alaam in Arabic is believed to be the path where Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. It is marked by nine of the fourteen Stations of the Cross, the last five stations being inside in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Emperor Hadrian destroyed Jerusalem entirely in 130 A.D. The present street infrastructure of Jerusalem goes back to the early Byzantine period. The tour will trace the street plan of Byzantine Jerusalem, as well as covering some Byzantine vestiges in the Old City. Then we will visit the famous Armenian Byzantine mosaic of birds at Musrara in addition to the Byzantine mosaics at the Russian convent on Mount of Olives.
The walking tour through the old streets, the archeological buildings, and explain the cultural & religious aspects of Crusader Jerusalem.
The Old City Wall Ramparts
Join us on a thrilling ramparts tour to explore the gates, architecture and institutions along the different quarters of the Old city, revealing the living conditions of its inhabitants. The walk will begin at Jaffa Gate overlooking the Citadel, Mamilla, the Ma’manillah neighborhood leading to the new city and The New Gate. Along Damascus and Herods’ Gate, we shall explore the latest colonization process where features and names of streets and sites are being changed.
Join us on a tour to the Jaffa Gate Citadel to enjoy the scenery of Jerusalem from the southern side of the Old City. The tour will visit the museums to learn about the different civilizations along the history of Jerusalem.
The Afro Palestinian Community
Join us on a unique tour to explore the identity of Jerusalem in the Old City! We will explore more about the Afro-Palestinian Community in Bab Al Majles.
The history of the Armenian quarter spans over sixteen hundred years. The bi-product is a huge complex with ancient monuments, spacious courtyards, institutions and gardens. The visit will encompass a detailed look at the Cathedral of St. James and the different institutions. During the visit we will learn about the Armenian culture, history and faith.
Assyrian & Copt Communities in the Old City
Join us for a walking tour towards the Christian Quarter to visit and talk with the Oriental Eastern Christian denominations living in Jerusalem: the Copts and the Assyrians. We will visit the head of the Assyrian denomination and the Church of St. Mark. We will then proceed to meet with the Coptic Archbishop and priests, visiting thereby the Coptic churches of St. Antony, St. James and the Church of Queen Helen.
The Old City Communities
Join us on a walking tour in the Old City Quarters to experience the life dynamics of its inhabitants. Towards the Haram Al-Sharif we will visit the African community in Bab Al-Majles, and the Bukhary community in the Via Dolorosa; we shall then walk across the souqs and bazars along the Christian Quarter to meet with the Ethiopians on roof of the Church of the Holy Supelchre and the last station will be at the Coptic community.
Join us on a tour to Silwan, Yabousite Jerusalem. The itinerary of the walk will go along Harat wa Bab il Magharebah, the Moroccon neighborhood, Cadron valley, Helwe valley, Beir Auyob and the solidarity tent in Al-Bustan neighborhood, against house demolition.
Mamman Allah, The Mamilla cemetery has been the main Islamic burial ground since the 7th century, when companions of the Prophet Mohammad were buried there, As well as Salah Eddine soldiers in the 12th century and generations of important Jerusalem families and notables. The site contains a pool which dates back to the Herodian period, 1st century BC. Join us for more information, on the historical importance and on the campaign to prevent Israel and the Simon Wiesentalh’s Centre from constructing the so called ‘Museum of Tolerance’.
Western Wall Tunnels
You are welcome to explore this complex space to explore the tunnels excavations that threaten the foundations of Al Aqsa Mosque area. The digs began in 1981 extending from the western wall of Al Aqsa mosque 450 meters northwards to Damascus Gate. This sparked the Tunnel Intifada of 1996 which led to the martyrdom of over ninety Palestinians.
The Umayyad Dynasty in Jerusalem
Lets explore the Umayyad dynasty in Jerusalem! Join us on this tour to visit the Umayyad’s palaces at the southern part of Al Aqsa Mosque and the archeological findings of Hisham’s Palace at the Palestinian Museum (Rockefeller).
The Colonization of Jerusalem in the Old City
Ali Jaddeh, a member of the Afro-Palestinian community of Jerusalem will guide the tour along the Moslem and Christian Quarters, passing by 'al Sharaf and the
Moroccan neighborhood, to explore the politics of Judaisation in the Old City. Along the different quarters the tour will visit Souqs, Bazaars, Churches, Mosques, Schools, Libraries and homes, all surrounded by illegal settlers.
Jerusalem from East to West
The tour will start from al Sheikh Jarrah passing by the Shepherd Hotel site which was demolished on January, 9th 2011; Continuing on to the southern side of the neighborhood where the rightful residents are being evacuated. Afterwards, we’ll head West along the green line & towards the Mamilla neighborhood stopping at the 7th Century Muslim Cemetery, where the “Museum of Tolerance” is being built. The tour will then visit Huda’s Fathers house, the Centre’s director, in the Greek Colony & other confiscated Palestinian neighborhoods since the 1948 catastrophe.
The Annexation Wall
The tour offers facts and figures on the effects of the Wall and settlement expansion on the inhabitants, land, water and other sources in the city and its neighboring areas.
The Sufi Zawiyas
Our itinerary includes local Sufi Holy Shrines, such as al Qirami, El Sheikh Rihan and Zawiyas such as the Khanqah, where Saladin had resided and meditated the Afghani Zawiya and the Naqshbandi and Indian Zawaya.
Through the centuries Sufi thought has shaped Moslem faith, Moslem identity and the Moslem city. Jerusalem, given its special status as the destination of Prophet Mohammad from Mecca during the Night Journey and His transfiguration and meeting with God in the Holy Rock became known as Alquds El Sheriff, The Noble Holy City. Henceforth Pilgrimage to Mecca began and ended in Al Quds. Pilgrims from all over the Moslem world would be accommodated in the Zawiya, which may roughly be translated as Hospices. In the Zawiya each Moslem ethnic group would find boarding and spiritual leaders in their respective languages. Whereas formal prayers would be performed in the Noble Sanctuary (el Harm el Sheriff) the ceremonial meditations and the inner religious aspect of Islam, Sufi rituals, would be practiced in the Zawiya itself. Local Jerusalemites had their own Sufi circles and various schools proliferated. Some leading Sufi figures assumed a saintly status and assumed a special status as Awliya’ from Wally each with his own shrine.
European Consulates in the Old City
The walking tour will explore the history and development of the European Consulates along the streets and neighborhoods of the Old City to explore, Once Upon A time.... in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Join us to explore the Old City libraries Al Budeiri ,Al Khaldiyeh and Al Nakshabandeyeh located at Bab al Majles, Bab al Silsileh and Bab Al Ghwanme. The Old City libraries are part of the treasures of Jerusalem family’s history and Palestinian cultural heritage.
Al-Quds University main campus – Abu Dies
Join us on a tour to Al-Quds University Campus in Abu Dies where we will visit also Abu Jihad museum of prisoners’ affairs, the first Math museum in the Arab World & the faculties with people in the university.
Khasiki Sultan - Imara al- Amira
A Public Kitchen, Caravansary, Café, Pastry Shop and a Carpentry.
Time changes & rearranges. The dynamism of life forges new realities. What once was the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher becomes the storage room in a pastry shop & what was the main square in Crusader time becomes a café. A church becomes a carpentry shop & then an office. The Turkish governor’s residence with its famous Khasiki Sultan public kitchen becomes an orphanage & school… In this tour we glimpse through various episodes of Jerusalem’s history as we visit Khasqi Sultan, Khan el Nahasseen, Al- Bazaar Coffee shop & Zalatimo.
Al-Quds Tours - Outside Jerusalem
Barta’a the divided village, the Green Line
Bartaa' lies on the green line on what is called al muthallath or 'the tirangle'. A divided village with divided people, partly occupied in 48 with 3,500 Israeli citizens, while others are occupied with the land in 67; they hold green west bank IDs, are considered part of the governate of Jenin. They therefore need a permit to cross the checkpoint along 10 meters to visit their families. What we shall witness in this tour are people who find themselves separated not only by the green line but by the Annexation Wall if you haven't yet watched the film 'Road 181' by Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sevan, Palestinian and Israeli film makers, perhaps this tour will show you the reality.
The tour will pass by Kofr Qasem Qalansow, Kofr Kana, Ara & Arrara and will visit and interact with people in Bartaa', the market & a special traditional meal 'Ouzi' to be cooked by the women of Bartaa'.
Jericho, the Moon City
Join us on a guided bus tour to discover a ten thousand years of history starting at Al Nabi Musa caravan saray and its ritual stories, the hill top overlooking St George's Monastry along Wadi Quilt, to enjoy the landscape and a unique atmosphere with Al Quds traditional breakfast. At the entrance of Jericho, there will be a stop for a short visit to Aqabat Jaber refugee camp, and a tour along the magnificent Omayyad legacy at Hisham's Palace.
Yaffa, the Bride of the Sea
Join us on a thrilling tour beginning from the Clock Tower “The heart of Yaffa before the Nakbah in 1948, along al-Ajami, Meena Yaffa, (the port), and the Old City.
This tour, guided by a native historian of Yaffa, who will take us along the city covering the geographical & historical context, Jaffa today, and the mixed lives “Arabs & Jews in a mixed city in a conflict reality”. Transforming “Once upon a time the most important Arab Palestinian city demographically to a poor Ghetto”. We will be visiting a Palestinian Institution.
Haifa & Akka
Join us on a tour to Haifa & Akka covering the cultural heritage in both cities starting with Akka where we will have the pleasure of visiting Hammam ِAl Pasha, the prison of Akka, the port & Al Jazzar mosque. We will then have a break to have a taste of the famous Akka fish, & continue the tour by heading to Haifa to visit the Baha’i Gardens, followed by the beach to swim and enjoy a coffee at the sunset.
The cult of the Virgin Mary and of St. George and innumerable ethnographic aspects of Palestinian spiritual beliefs and practices can be meaningfully contextualized by reference to ancient Canaanite myths and rituals. Primordial Semitic spiritual precepts act as filters to historical events and underlie the survival of certain fetishist elements in which local supplicants seek talismanic means to ward off evil. In this tour in the area of Bethlehem three major sanctuaries and churches that are a focus of Moslem and Christian believers with deep roots in ancient Canaanite culture. We will stop at the Church of the Apparition of the Virgin Mary. A water well which has been recently incorporated within a Greek orthodox church that both Moslems and Christian visit to pray, drink from its holy water, light votive candles and buy the Virgin’s icon to take home. We will also visit the Milk Grotto, behind the Church of Nativity, where lactating women visit for special blessing. And a special stop will be made in el Khader village to visit the church of St. George once the favored baptism and circumcision locus for Moslems and Christians alike and now chiefly visited for the famous chain with which St. George lead the dragon to town and which is now used to exorcise evil spirits and for cure from the evil eye. Because of the numerous requests we will also make a special visit to Mar Saba Monastery, otherwise inaccessible because of its distance from Bethlehem. Since women are forbidden entry we will simply have a stop in the panoramic vicinity overlooking the fourth century desert monastery.
The Edomite Kingdom & Cave Cities
Patterns of Ancient Semitic Settlements in the Mount Hebron region are possible to trace through the study of the three dominant urban centres and their satellite villages namely Dura, Yatta and Dhahirieh. Among them Dura stands out as heir to the Edomite Kingdom.
We will visit villages and towns whose ancestors formed the main allies with the Roman Empire and whose children studied and trained in Rome itself. The Edomite kings fostered intensive alliances with the Nabateans on their Eastern frontier and produced great Kings such as Herod the Great.
On this tour we shall visit various sites associated with ancient Semitic religious practices, such as the sacred tree in el Saeer, The sculpture of Doshara the deity in Dura, the sacred rocthe ks in Khursa and visit the cave city of Dhahiriyeh…. Along the way we will make stops at various cave villages to examine age old tradition of cave dwellings that survived until the mid nineteenth century. Time permitting we may visit At Tuwani the remote still inhabited cave village.