Friday, April 22, 2011

The White Tower of Ramla

The small town of Ramla (Ramleh) in central Israel, is known for its colorful market, the grave of a british soldier with the name of ... Harry Potter , archeological sites, and the White Tower - identified as World Heritage site by UNESCO.

I was at my cousin Racheli's place which is about fifteen minutes drive from Ramleh. She offered to take me to the White Tower.
It was morning, fine weather, empty roads, scarcely a soul outside, as people were still sleeping after the long ceremony of Seder Night (first night of the jewish Passover). The parking lot near the tower and the adjacent muslim cemetery, was empty too. Complete silence. disturbed only by our steps and voices. There was no one there we could ask specific questions about the historical place. All we could do was to contemplate it.

the White Tower

The White Tower ( a square Gothic structure also known as the Ramla Tower) was built in the 13th century on the ruins of an earlier tower. It is six-stories high with a spiral staircase of 119 steps. Like with any high tower, its top offers great views of the surrounding area.
The tower is significant both to muslims and to christians. It used to serve as a minaret of the White Mosque (the remains of which are surrounding the exterior of the tower), and as a strategic military lookout.

lovely tall tree among graves

pavement bordering the tower area

We started our tour with the White Tower in Ramla, and ended it with a visit to some nice rural settlements (moshavim) located near the neighboring city of Rechovot (center of Science). About Rechovot - in a future post, I hope.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Small but Great

The urban environment has many small elements (both natural and man-made) that make it look closer to Nature and/ or friendlier to people. When I'm outdoors, it is these small elements that draw my attention and make me want to use my point-and-shoot little camera to capture and save them.

I'm not referring here to parks , the 'green lungs' - which are, of course, the pride of every city and its municipality, but to the small public patches of green, to front and back house gardens, to tiles in the pavement, street lamps (like in the above picture), benches, public-phone roofs, stone statues...; the list is endless. Here are a few samples of what I mean by 'small elements' in the urban landscape:

Puddle, surrounded by some trees and weeds. A remnant of the last rains of winter. A natural 'relief' which borders the end of a long busy street, and the beginning of another long, busy street . A puddle is usually a dirty, muddy little pool of water; this one is rather clean with defined margins, and at midday, I guess the sun 's rays are reflected in it. Nice sight enjoyed by both, pedestrians and people in the passing cars !

Right there on the extended pavement, by the urban road with a pedestrian crossing - several wooden benches in a semicircle to the grassy , round spot with two trees. In the background, a green mound with trees on it. Charming little place offering some rest and relaxation to the city dweller.

Bycicle- path painted sign. I like the addition of adult and child to the symbol of bycicle. It softens the look of the sign and yet makes its message more powerful: no motor traffic here, bycicle riders and pedestrians only!

A juice booth selling natural, fresh fruit & vegetable juice is a must in the crowded, poluted city. Have you ever drunk wheatgrass juice? Me neither. That's what the young woman with the bycicle has ordered. Wheatgrass juice, by the way, is supposed to have many curative properties. Well, my favorite juice is pomelo (a kind of grapefruit) juice.