Photo Essay | Gazan Jewels by Belal, Palestine

Gaza is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its architecture denotes unique eras of variant civilizations: Ottoman, Roman, and Greek. It is a fertile land of religious monuments.

I had always wanted to explore my city and see its details in depth until the beginning of last April when I decided to go on a trip with my friends to discover the old city in Gaza which I have visited for the first time in my life this year. It was the first time to feel like a tourist in my city. I was truly dazzled by the old buildings, walls, shops and the structures of the old city.

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One of my friends lives nearby the old city, and he was our guide on that unforgettable trip. Nour took us to one of the oldest markets there, the Gold Market also known as the Qissariya Market. When I first walked into the market, I felt like I was walking in Jerusalem’s old city, the way the ceilings are built were exactly like the ones I saw in Jerusalem. The shops were so small and very close to each other, but they looked so beautiful. Everything shined with Gold in that Golden market. That was our first destination, we took many photos and selfies together that people thought we were foreigners, everyone was looking at us, and it really felt like we were in another country.

We kept the journey going, and during the way, we found an old shop full of old books, antiques, and so old furniture. We were looking at history in that shop full of treasures. I saw old watches and helmets that goes back to WWI and WWII time.

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After I have seen all this beauty, I have seen the greatest beauty in that old city, my eyes have fallen on the Great Omari Mosque for the first time, it is also known as The Great Mosque of Gaza. It is one of the oldest antiquarian mosques back to the Ottoman era, and one of the most significant archaeological sites.

belal 2I was astonished and wowed by the outstanding decorations; the withstanding and inveterate half marbled pillars stuck high-above up to their abacuses, their wonderful capitals and the fineness of well-structured arcuated ceiling. We also visited the Holy Family Church which was so beautiful too. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see it from the inside because it was under restoration.

We wanted to visit the Church of Saint Porphyrius but it was dusk time by then, and we couldn’t keep up the journey. Everyone was tired after along college day but after an awesome trip. I fell more in love with Gaza that day. I learned so much about my city, and the most beautiful thing is that I felt like walking in the alleys of the old city of Jerusalem.

This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region.

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