Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Sheikh Zayed Mosque has 22 412 m² and can accommodate up to 40,000 visitors, considered the largest mosque in the UAE and one of the largest in the world; located in Abu Dhabi. It is the only mosque that allows the visit of tourists. Its name comes from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who made built the edifice in Carrara marble, with the largest chandelier that weighs around 12 tons and the largest carpet in the world that consists of 9 pieces. He died before the end of the construction and his son Khalifa continued the work and gave his father’s name to the mosque. The construction took 12 years (1995-2007) and several international engineers and craftsmen worked there. It has many columns (1048), arches topped by domes (82) and four minarets of 107 meters in height. The domes are topped spiers covered in gilded mosaic glass. In its interior, it is decorated with floral motifs that have been made by a graphic arts company in Milan, Italy and we also find semi-precious stones of Austria. As it was built on a desert terrain, the structure is based on more than 6,000 steel pillars treated to resist corrosion caused by the salt environment. The land was raised from 9 meters to allow more impressive vision. The tomb of Sultan is located at the entrance, outside the mosque; there are two men who read the Koran all the time. Around the mosque there are 22 laps each provided with ten projectors that link to the mosque.

Tips

To make the visit, women should wear long skirts or pants that cover completely the legs below the ankle, they must have long sleeves and cover all the head; they can wear sandals and the entrance to the mosque is done barefoot so if you prefer you can wear stockings.
Be careful with the marble floor as it is slippery especially if there is water. We have had the experience of a lady who fell by aching ankle and was immediately transported to the medical clinic on site, in wheelchair, where she received care without spending a penny.
You can take pictures everywhere except at the tomb of Sultan.
The visit is free and it can not be visited on Friday morning.

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.