A Traveler’s Journal: Revisiting Al-Aqsa Mosque


I’m KanxeY, an art lover, animation and illustration enthusiast from Nepal, living in Israel now. I also love to read & write Nepali literature . I work to find little moments of love and translate them into shapes & shades.


2014: A Peaceful Exploration

My first visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque in 2014 was an unforgettable experience. Nestled within the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, Al-Aqsa stands as a beacon of history, faith, and culture. I remember walking through the bustling streets, feeling the city’s energy and anticipation as I approached the Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary.

Entering through the designated tourist gate, I felt a profound sense of awe. The mosque’s beautiful architecture, with its vast courtyard and the majestic Dome of the Rock nearby, captivated me. The atmosphere was serene; the gentle murmur of prayers from devout Muslims mixed with the whispers of tourists like myself, all sharing in the reverence of this sacred place.

I spent hours wandering the grounds, absorbing the history that seeped from every stone. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, constructed in the early 8th century, has witnessed countless events that shaped not just Jerusalem but the world. Its significance to Islam, as the place from which Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven, adds layers of spiritual depth to its historical importance.

2024: A Tense Return

Fast forward to 2024, and my return visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque felt markedly different. The city of Jerusalem still pulsed with its unique blend of ancient and modern, but the atmosphere around the mosque had noticeably shifted. Security was visibly tighter, and there was a palpable tension in the air.

As I approached the entrance, I was met with rigorous security checks. The once simple entry process had transformed into a detailed screening procedure, reflecting the heightened tensions and political complexities of the region. I was directed to the tourist entrance, separate from the entrances used by religious Muslims. This segregation was intended to maintain order and respect the sanctity of the mosque for worshippers.

Upon finally entering the mosque complex, I felt a sense of urgency. It was nearly 2 PM, and I was informed that the mosque would soon close to tourists. My time was limited, and the leisurely exploration I had enjoyed in 2014 was no longer an option. With only ten minutes to spare, I made my way through the familiar grounds, this time under the watchful eyes of security personnel.

Despite the brief visit, the beauty and significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque were undiminished. The sight of the Dome of the Rock, with its stunning golden dome, and the serene expanse of the mosque’s courtyards, still evoked a deep sense of reverence. Yet, the experience was now framed by the reality of the political and social tensions that surround this sacred site.

Reflections on Change

The contrast between my visits in 2014 and 2024 highlighted the evolving nature of Jerusalem and its sacred spaces. Al-Aqsa Mosque remains a profound symbol of faith for Muslims, while also being a site of interest for Jews and Christians due to its historical and religious significance. This shared reverence is both a source of unity and a point of contention.

The increased security measures are a response to the complex political landscape and the need to protect this revered site. Incidents of violence and unrest have necessitated these changes, reflecting the fragile balance that exists in Jerusalem. The separate entrances for tourists and worshippers, while practical, underscore the delicate interplay of respect, security, and accessibility.

At last

My journey to Al-Aqsa Mosque, both in 2014 and 2024, underscores the timeless allure of this sacred place and the profound impact of historical and contemporary events on its accessibility and atmosphere. Despite the changes and challenges, Al-Aqsa remains a site of deep spiritual significance and historical importance.

For travelers, visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque is an opportunity to connect with a place that has shaped the religious and cultural fabric of the world. It is a reminder of the enduring power of faith and the complexities of preserving such a revered site amidst the ever-evolving dynamics of the region.

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