There is no escaping religion here. It is in the people, politics, buildings, graffiti and soil. The Jews, Muslims and Christians all lay claim to the city and are bound to it.
Every year many thousands of pilgrims defy security concerns to come to Jerusalem. Like the city’s crazy traffic, tour around for just a few moments and suddenly the stories of the Bible leap out right in front of you.
The hawkers do a fine trade in the Old City maze. Want to buy a crown of thorns? How about a glow in the dark crucifix?
Even if you went off into some sort of dark Jerusalem cave to get away from it all, the chances are that a celebrated saint did that before you.
The ancient site in the Old City is the most sacred, holiest place for Jews, the third most important place for Muslims and, currently, a no go zone for tourists.
The Palestinian Second Intifada began here on September 28th 2000 when Ariel Sharon provocatively entered the al-Aqsa Mosque with more than 1000 security guards.
More than a dozen journalists took part including correspondents from the US, Denmark and Italy.
Slow moving or, in my case, slow photographing journos, were chastened by a man barking; “Come journalists! Come on!”
The contention was expected, but perhaps not inside the mosque. The tour was a rare opportunity to experience what is the oldest Islamic building in the world and the site of great religious and social turmoil.
At various times, the place has been shot at, burnt down, damaged in quakes, rebuilt, burnt again and threatened with larger scale explosives.
The stained glass windows scatter glorious light on the worshippers, although the mosque was very quiet while we shuffled through.
Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported from Mecca to al-Aqsa during the Night Journey.
There he led other prophets in prayer, leapt to heaven and spoke to God.
The mosque has survived a lot over the centuries including a 1969 assault by an Australian Christian.
Denis Michael Rohan started a fire, he says, to hasten the second coming of Jesus. He was found to be criminally insane.
It is painted with 14th-century-era decorations including lines from the Koran.
The mosque fits about five thousand worshippers, but it regularly overflows at Friday prayers with thousands more people praying in the courtyard.
They are the shells of the ammunition used when Israeli police stormed the compound. They are under lock and key.
The shrine is impossible to miss in Jerusalem as it is covered in millions of dollars worth of Saudi Arabian and Jordanian gold.
As you get closer you see the enormous dome sits on a octagonal building covered in 400 year old blue-themed Islamic tiles.
Contentiously, it was built on the site of the Second Jewish Temple which had been destroyed by the Romans. Some Jews want the Dome moved to Mecca make way for a Third Temple.
The Muslim guide was not specific on when it happened, but bullets must have hit the beautiful mosaics.
Scaffolding obscured many of the views, but Koranic lines painted in the time of Saladin could be clearly seen.
Muslims believe the rock is the spot where Muhammad rose to Heaven to talk to God, Jews view it as the spiritual junction of Heaven and Earth.. and geographically it is the highest natural point in Old Jerusalem.
The guide says a single hair from Muhammad is somewhere in the building.
We were shuffled out of the Dome of the Rock with the guides still disputing minor points while questions ricocheted in our heads.
Muslim women relaxed in the sun and children played on the wide open concrete space.