The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

The Wailing Wall, or Western Wall or HaKotel and El-Burak, is a retaining wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem located in the Jewish quarter of the old city dating from I century BC and since the seventh century, it incorporates the walls of the Temple Mount, very close to the Holy of Holies (located on the Temple Mount) so that the Jews consider the holiest place for prayer. The pan (57 m long) is just a part of the western wall (497 m long). The rest of the wall is used as a fourth wall by the adjoining houses in the Arab neighborhood; the rest is underground. The Wailing Wall is an Israeli national symbol as well as a Muslim one because it supports the esplanade where are built the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque (the third holiest place in Islam). You enter the square in front of the wall with a door wall, the door Mughrabi or Garbage, where police has strict controls. The esplanade has 3 parts; one that is open to the public, the other two, separated by a partition, are for people who want to approach the wall, one for men and one for women. There are holy arches in underground rooms that line the men’s section where we find the Torah scrolls that are used during prayer services that take place throughout the day.

Tips

If you want to approach the wall, or put small pieces of paper with wishes or prayers in the cracks and crevices, either to pray or put your hand on the wall, you must enter the section that suits you by walking on your front to the wall and to leave the place, walking slowly backwards because you can not give your back to the wall.

The Vatican

The Vatican or the State of Vatican City, is the Territorial Support of the Holy See and all the institutions of the Roman Catholic church, landlocked in the Italian city of Rome, is the smallest state in the world with about 900 residents. The famous Pontifical Swiss Guard, responsible for protecting the Pope, also resides there. The Vatican, important archaeological site of the Roman world, located on the hill of the same name, is the seat of the papacy and the Catholic world. The reigning pope is Francesco (Francis), born in Argentina, elected in 2013 after the resignation of Benedict XVI. A humble and friendly Pope, loved by all, who is making significant changes to the Catholic Church. The City of the current Vatican can be considered as the remaining old Papal States. The ancient origin of this territory is a series of land donations. There were a few villas, built around imperial gardens that were property of Agrippina, whose son was the emperor Caligula who had built a private circus ‘Circus Vaticanus’ from which we find to date, only the obelisk. The Vatican is an absolute and elective monarchy: the Pope is elected by a qualified majority at the conclave, and reign in life by principle, but he can also give up. The Holy See also has several buildings outside of the Vatican City with their total area is about double that of the Vatican. We can name all of the Lateran (the basilica, the palace and the Scala Santa), St. Mary Major Basilica, Vatican Radio, the Gregorian University, Castel Gandolfo (the Pope’s summer residence), among others.

Tips

If you are visiting the Vatican during your stay in Rome, know that one day is not enough to see everything, but it’s a beginning. So to enjoy the day, try to arrive early to enter the Basilica, instead you will find yourself with a long queue that will take away the wish to enter. The best way to travel is by subway; you have to walk just a few meters and you are there. If you care to see the Pope, Francesco released on Wednesday. Inquire for its calendar. If you like museums, the Vatican counts 11 museums with rich collections of sacred art and profane as well as Etruscan and Egyptian antiquities and works of painters, including Michelangelo.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Montmartre, Paris, France

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, in the 18th district of Paris. In 1871 Alexandre Legentil writes a personal wish that eventually takes a nationwide in which he spoke of the misfortune that the France was suffering since the defeat of 1789 and in which he promised to contribute to the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paris. The election of the architect is done by competition, Paul Abadie was the winner. At its death he was replaced by Honoré Daumet and himself replaced by Charles Laisné that will add the collaboration of Émile Hirsch for stained glass. The first stone was laid 16 June 1875. The interior of the nave is inaugurated in 1891. The steeple was finished in 1912 and the façade in 1914 but as the war began, the consecration was in 1919. It’s just in 1923 it was really finished with interior decoration. The Basilica is cruciform Greek, adorned with four domes, with a central dome (83 m high) topped by a roof formed of a colonnade. The architect has chosen a white stone hard and self-cleaning in contact with water. The ceiling of the apse, inside, is decorated with the largest mosaic of France representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus designed by Luc Olivier Merson; its base has a phrase in latin meaning ‘To the holy heart of Jesus, the devout, penitent and grateful France’. There is also the largest bell of France. There are two equestrian statues in bronze of one and other side of the entrance that represent Saint-Louis and Joan of Arc. Inside there is the silver statue of the Sacred Heart of Christ. In 1928 they added a Christ of 5 metres in height, in stone, in the niche of the facade. It is the second most visited monument of France after the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Tips

The two nearest metro stations are Anvers on line 2 and Abbesses on line 12.
To get to the basilica you will have to climb 50 metres either by taking the stairs or with the funicular or the Montmartrobus enabling you to effortlessly.
You can also make a visit with Promotrain (small tourist train with sound for 55 people) which you can take at Place Blanche (metro Blanche line 2) or at Place du Tertre. You do not need to book unless you’re in a group of 15 people or more. You will also get a reduction in the fee in the case to be a group of 20 people or more.
If you can, avoid to visit the basilica over the weekend as there are many more tourists than on weekdays.
Unfortunately, it is forbidden to use cameras or video cameras inside the basilica but you can still take your camera to capture one of more beautiful views of Paris once at the top. You have a magnificent view!
It’s better you programmed to pass minimum half-day on-site because Montmartre has many shops, restaurants, cafes, the place where painters exhibit where at the same timeone of them could make you a portrait or to simply wander around this beautiful neighbourhood.
You will also find street artists who do their demonstrations in front of the basilica quite often as occasional sellers especially at weekends.