The Waqf Islamic Endowment provided a group of us with a special free tour of the Al-Aqsa grounds which is currently off-limits to non-Muslims; we were on the third tour group Shabat 30 July 2005.
The tour was to meet here at the Lion's Gate, on the far eastern wall of the Old City.
It's called the Lion's Gate cause...uh...of the lions. Heh.
A sign outside the gate.
Outside the Al-Aqsa grounds, the tour started the trek toward the Dome...it took quite a while, and was further than I figured it would be. After the tour, this area would be bustling with vendors selling their wares to people who returned from prayers.
These are the gates of Al-Aqsa grounds; the grounds are vast and lush with olive trees, full of people going to pray and study the Koran at the mosques on top of the hill.
The path around to one of the four gates of the hill.
Climbing stairs, we reached the Eastern Gate, and the Dome of the Rock. This building is MASSIVE - the gate was probably 100 meters from the building itself, so that gives one an idea just how large a structure it is. The building in front of it is the smaller building erected as a model for the larger one.
Directly behind us is the Mount of Olives, the location the Bible speaks of as the location of the Second Coming.
The South gate; its distance should give you an idea of the monolithic size of the Aqsa Grounds.
The Northern Gate which leads to Al-Aqsa Mosque.