Author: Don Knebel

Ma’loula, Syria, in November 2010 (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: The language of Jesus in Ma’loula

Until a few years ago, visitors to an ancient mountainside village in southwestern Syria could hear the words of Jesus in his own language.  Today, those words have been temporarily silenced. Ma’loula (or Maaloula)...

Interior of Pantheon in Rome (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: Rome’s heavenly dome

The largest unreinforced dome in the world is also the oldest. Most Americans unknowingly see the lasting influence of this extraordinary achievement of Roman architects every day. In about 126 A.D., Roman Emperor Hadrian...

Stairs to Nile in Church in Ma’adi, Egypt (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: The Holy Family in Egypt

Western Christians seeking sites associated with Jesus’ birth usually go to Bethlehem, where the Bible says Jesus was born. Egyptian Christians (“Coptics”) are more likely to seek out sacred sites in Egypt. According to...

Praying at the Western Wall (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: Jerusalem’s Holy Wall

A section of a 2,000-year-old wall is the world’s holiest place for many Jews, providing one reason why determining the future of East Jerusalem is so difficult. In 19 B.C., Judea’s King Herod began...

A street in the Jewish section of Cordoba, Spain. (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: Cordoba’s golden age

The historic Jewish section of Cordoba, Spain, recalls a period that the world has largely forgotten. While Christian Europe was asleep, Muslims and Jews in Spain together fashioned an era of remarkable creativity. After...

Kapaleshvara Temple in Chennai, India (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: St. Thomas and the Kapaleshvara Temple

The Kapaleshvara Temple is the largest of many colorful Hindu temples in Chennai, a city in southern India previously known as Madras. The temple’s history is entwined with a dubious claim about a disciple...

Broadcast Tower in Berlin, Germany (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: The ‘Pope’s Revenge’ a Christian symbol

During the Cold War, the East German government erected a 1207-foot-tall broadcast tower in East Berlin, intended to celebrate the superiority of the Communist system. The plan backfired, constantly reminding East Berliners of what...

Northern Cemetery in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by Don Knebel)

Egyptian tombs known as City of the Dead

Turning an old joke line on its head, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians are “just living” to get into a cemetery, creating one of Cairo’s most unusual tourist destinations. In the 14th century, Cairo’s...

Catherine’s Palace, near St. Petersburg, Russia (Photo by Don Knebel)

Catherine’s room is missing

  Once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Amber Room is missing. But visitors to St. Petersburg, Russia, can see (but not photograph) a recreation of that famous room. Amber, the...

Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace from Bosporus. (Photo by Don Knebel)

Column: Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace

Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace is one of the most spectacular buildings of its kind in the world. Its grandeur hastened the collapse of the empire that built it. By the middle of the 19th century,...