A Passion for Purses and . . . . Kat Out of the Bag, . . . . . . . . . In Purse-Suit Mysteries: An American In Rome: Katherine : Beauty surrounds my trips to Rome, including on the runways of the fabulous shows of Italian fashions. Kat Out of the Bag boo…
For those of you who are interested in knowing more about Meteora and its rock formations and monasteries, here’s a link to a website called Mapping Europe. It contains drone photos that capture some of the wonders of the area.
Thanks to Martha Bakerjian for the find!
It wasn’t long before the Sabbath warning horn sounded. Men, wearing high boots and and caftans, held on to their fur hats as they hurried home. The large hats were brimmed with luxurious sable or martin. Even in a city of religious garb, cassocks, birettas and cowls, head scarves, crocheted caps, yarmulkes, turbans and prayer shawls, their appearance was otherworldly, as if people from16th century shtetls in dank Poland had suddenly been transported to the sun and heat of a land of olive trees and cypresses. A little boy, one hand holding his father’s and sucking his other thumb as they headed for home, looked serious and pale with his red hair dropping in a shoulder length curl on each side of his ears. He frowned at us, nosy interlopers that we were.
We left the Old City by the Damascus Gate. An Israeli soldier with an Uzi sat in the small window overlooking the square. Other soldiers screamed at the Palestinians or drove through the thick crowds in their military vehicles with little care for anyone’s safety, blowing their horns and waving guns. Our goal was the Rockefeller Museum, located on the site where Crusaders stormed the city in 1099. No one wanted to let us in until our motives were ascertained. We looked innocent although a guard shadowed us as we wandered the rooms empty of visitors but filled with artifacts from every period of history. On the way out we noticed that the roof was crammed with antennae of every sort, no doubt having nothing to do with artifacts from the prehistoric era.
We walked to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the only peaceful site we found even though sirens sounded in the distance and a slight smell of tear gas wafted near the giant olive trees in the beautiful garden, the setting for betrayal.
A temporary lull in the perpetual contest for power allowed a visit to the Temple Mount where Solomon’s Temple housed the Ark of the Covenant until it was destroyed in 587 BC by Nebuchadnezzar. Nothing is left of that temple although there are a few remains of the Second Temple built by Herod. The area fell into ruin until the arrival of the Moslems in AD 638. They cleaned it up and built two famous mosques. The mosaic-encrusted Dome of the Rock, was designed by Christian architects – a rare example of ecumenism. The golden-domed octagonal building surrounds a rock where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac and Mohammed temporarily ascended into heaven astride his horse. The King of Jordan was assassinated there by fanatics in 1951. The silver-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque nearby was built on the ruins of a Byzantine basilica. Some years later it was damaged by gunfire and then a crazed Australian tried to burn it down.
Down, down to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. We shared the ever-shrinking Sea with war veterans covered with scars trying to ease their aches in the greasy-feeling mineral warmth of the buoyant water. Masada’s rocky outcrop, where Herod’s fortress once stood and the Zealots held out against the Romans, loomed over the Sea. As we rode to the top in a cable car, soldiers in training were running up the steep path. Pieces of Roman columns lay on the ground. Roman numerals, still clear, showed which piece should be connected to its mate. When we looked over the sides of the fortress, the desert soil revealed the outline of Roman encampments and the ramp used by their army in AD 73 to end the three-year siege. When they entered the ruins, the Romans found 960 bodies of the Jewish Zealots who died rather than submit to Rome.