Christian and Muslim Quarters

Fragmented into a dozen denominational domains, the Christian Quarter is capped by the great gray dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (The struggle for visibility in the holy city seems to be as much about dominating the skyline as about controlling real estate.) The numerous churches and religious institutions in this quarter, which is west of the Muslim Quarter, make for low population density.

The Muslim Quarter, located between Damascus Gate and the Western Wall, and west of Lions' Gate, is by far the largest in both area and population. The famous Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) that begins in and winds through this quarter on its way to the Holy Sepulcher, is lined with stores displaying Christian souvenirs and artifacts. It's a facade: the side streets, with their little grocery stores, neighborhood mosques, and stenciled pictures of Mecca, bespeak the real character of this residential area. Short dead-end alleys give tantalizing glimpses of the enormous gold Dome of the Rock on the Haram esh-Sharif (aka the Temple Mount).

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