The essential guide to the mystique of Jerusalem’s Old City (with maps for each quarter)

The Old City of Jerusalem is of immense importance for its historical, religious, and cultural significance that spans thousands of years. Here’s a guide for travelers including walking maps for each quarter.

The Old City of Jerusalem is a significant pilgrimage site for the world’s three major monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

It has been inhabited for more than 3,000 years and has seen numerous periods of change under different empires. Its rich history is reflected in its diverse architectural styles, languages, traditions, and people.

As a melting pot of different cultures and traditions, the Old City of Jerusame reflects its diverse religious and ethnic communities through food, music, art, and festivals.

It’s probably the only place in the world where you see different religious beliefs co-existing together. The bulk of your Jerusalem itinerary will be here, so browse away and see how you can explore the Old City of Jerusalem on your own.

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🗺️ Old City of Jerusalem Map

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👉🏽 Open Old City of Jerusalem map | You will also find a map for each quarter in this post.

🇦🇲 Armenian Quarter

Tucked away in the southwest corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Armenian Quarter, the smallest of the four, is steeped in history and seclusion.

The St. James Cathedral is its centerpiece, boasting beautiful architecture and serene surroundings.

The Quarter’s narrow, winding streets echo ancient traditions sustained by the tight-knit Armenian community.

Below are the things to do in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem:

Tower of David Museum

located near the Jaffa Gate inside the historic the Old City of Jerusalem Citadel, offers an intriguing journey through Jerusalem’s 3,000-year history.

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Night lights show at Tower of David in Jerusalem Old City.

The museum features exhibits from various periods, displayed in chronological order, making the city’s complex history easier to understand.

Don’t miss the Night Spectacular, a light show that transforms the citadel’s walls and archaeological ruins into a canvas that illustrates the Old City of Jerusalem’s history.

Zion Gate

Zion Gate, also known as David’s Gate, is one of the seven open gates in Jerusalem’s Old City walls. It’s famous for its bullet hole-ridden façade, a stark reminder of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

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Its strategic location gives you access to the Armenian and Jewish Quarters, the Western Wall, and Mount Zion – the purported site of King David’s tomb.

Armenian Tavern

Tucked in a 500-year-old cellar, Armenian Tavern offers a unique dining experience in the Old City of Jerusalem. The restaurant embraces its history with stone arches and antique decorations, creating an inviting atmosphere.

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Start with the manti (Turkish ravioli), which are tiny dumplings filled with minced meat, served with yogurt, or try the ghapama, a festive pumpkin stuffed with rice and dried fruits.

Bulghourji

Bulghourji is a delightful find in the Armenian Quarter, serving up Armenian and Middle Eastern dishes. Its name gives a hint to its specialty: bulghur dishes.

Bulgur, a type of dried, cracked wheat, is a staple in Armenian cuisine and is featured in many of their signature dishes. You might try the each, a tasty and spicy bulghur salad.

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The muhammara, a hot pepper dip with walnuts and pomegranate molasses, is another favorite.

The Sandrouni brothers’ owners are usually on hand and delighted to share the history and culture that inspire their food.

Tip: When visiting, consider dining al fresco in their courtyard under the grapevines for an atmospheric meal.

Sandrouni Armenian Ceramic Center

The Sandrouni Gift Shop is a treasure trove of beautifully crafted Armenian ceramics, textiles, and ornaments near the St. James Cathedral.

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The Sandrouni family, originally from Armenia, has kept their tradition alive through hand-painting intricate designs on ceramics.

Each piece is unique, from wall tiles and plates to ornate coffee pots and bowls, reflecting the rich history and culture of Armenian art.

Tip: They also have ceramic painting sessions which you can book in advance. The workshop is for 2-3 hours.

Balian Armenian Ceramics

Balian Armenian Ceramics is a family-run business, established in 1922, is renowned for its exquisite ceramic artistry.

The shop is located in a historic 12th-century building, giving it an enchanting atmosphere that enhances the shopping experience.

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The pieces range from plates, bowls, and mugs to decorative tiles, each bearing intricate Armenian motifs or depictions of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The designs, characterized by their floral patterns and vivid colors, uniquely blend traditional Armenian and local Jerusalem styles.

One of the standout items is their decorative wall tiles. Available in various sizes, these tiles portray biblical scenes, historical landmarks, and traditional Armenian patterns.

Map for Armenian Quarter Old City of Jerusalem

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➡️ Open waking route for Armenian Quarter on Google Maps

🕍 Jewish Quarter

Rebuilt and restored after the 1967 war, the Jewish Quarter unveils a vibrant mosaic of life where past and present harmoniously intertwine. The Western Wall forms the Quarter’s spiritual heart, where worshippers gather for prayer.

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The Hurva Synagogue and the Herodian Quarter/Wohl Museum are must-visits for history enthusiasts. Don’t miss the Roman Cardo, once the main north-south thoroughfare of Byzantine Jerusalem.

Below are the things to do in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem:

The Western Wall (Wailing Wall)

is one of the most sacred places in Judaism. As the last remnant of the Second Temple, it draws millions of visitors who come to pray and place written prayers in the cracks of its ancient stones.

A truly moving experience, whether you come to pray or observe.

The Cardo

is an impressive reminder of the Old City of Jerusalem’s Roman past. Once the city’s main thoroughfare, today, the partially restored Byzantine-era street is lined with art galleries and shops.

The Cardo’s old-world charm is palpable, making it a delightful place to stroll and shop.

The Broad Wall

is a significant archaeological site. Built by King Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE, it was constructed to protect the city from Assyrian invaders. Walking by the wall, you can contemplate the deep history and wars this wall has witnessed.

The Burnt House Museum

provides a poignant look at the destruction of the Old City of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Exploring this ancient aristocratic house and its artifacts gives you an intimate glimpse into life during the Second Temple period.

Plugat Hakotel House

The Plugat Hakotel House (also known as the Western Wall Platoon House) is a deeply significant site in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. This modest building serves as a museum today, but it has a profound history linked to the time of the British Mandate over Palestine.

From 1930 to 1931, it served as the headquarters for the “Western Wall Platoon” (Plugat Hakotel in Hebrew), a group of Jewish fighters belonging to the Betar Movement.

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The house provides a fascinating look into this challenging period in the Old City of Jerusalem’s history. Inside, you’ll find a collection of photographs, documents, and personal items that belonged to the platoon members.

These exhibits tell the story of the members’ struggle, clandestine activities, and deep commitment to preserving Jewish access to this holy site.

🎟️ Tours and tickets: The suggested visiting time is 40 minutes. Tickets start from $3 USD

Western Wall Tunnels

is a journey through layers of history. The tunnels take you along the full length of the Western Wall, revealing fascinating insights into ancient Old City of Jerusalem’s architecture and construction.

Hurva Synagogue

The beautifully restored Hurva Synagogue stands as a symbol of the Jewish Quarter’s resilience. Its history of destruction and reconstruction mirrors that of the Jewish people themselves.

Tip: Climb up to the synagogue’s balcony for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Old City of Jerusalem.

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The Four Sephardic Synagogues

The Four Sephardic Synagogues complex is a testament to the vibrant Sephardic heritage. The interconnected synagogues with unique history and charm are still active prayer sites, offering a peek into Sephardic liturgical traditions.

Herodian Quarter/Wohl Museum

The Herodian Quarter/Wohl Museum houses some of the most luxurious homes from the Second Temple period. Wandering around the ruins, you’re transported back in time, imagining the lives of the priests and elites who once resided here.

Little Western Wall

The Little Western Wall is a quieter, less-known continuation of the Western Wall. Located in the Muslim Quarter, it offers a more secluded space for prayer and reflection, away from the crowds.

Old Yishuv Court Museum

Lastly, the Old Yishuv Court Museum presents a snapshot of life in the Jewish Quarter from the late Ottoman period through the British Mandate.

Through personal artifacts and room reconstructions, the museum tells the story of the community that lived here, bringing the history to life.

The Quarter Café

The Quarter Café has a welcoming, laid-back vibe, making it a fantastic place to relax after exploring the Old City. You can’t go wrong with their delicious Shakshuka, a classic Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.

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Pair it with freshly squeezed juice for a delightful brunch. For a light snack, their hummus is a must-try.

Tip: If the weather is nice, ask for a table on their terrace for a nice view!

The Holy Cafe

The Holy Café, nestled in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, is a gem of a find for anyone looking for a break from exploring the Old City of Jerusalem.

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This charming establishment serves an enticing mix of modern Israeli dishes and international favorites in a casual, friendly setting.

The menu is varied, offering many options from hearty salads and soups to delicious sandwiches and main courses.

Bazaar Shuk

Bazaar Shuk in the Jewish Quarter offers a unique mix of vendors selling various items, making it an excellent place to find unique and authentic souvenirs.

From traditional Judaica to handmade jewelry, there is something to suit every taste and budget.

Don’t miss out on buying a personalized Hebrew name necklace or a beautiful Mezuzah for your doorpost.

Tip: Remember to bring cash, and don’t be afraid to haggle; bargaining is part of the local culture.

The Cardo Market

Situated on the ancient Roman street, the Cardo Market is a must-visit shopping spot in the Jewish Quarter. Here, you’ll find high-quality goods, including antiquities, religious items, ceramics, and art.

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One of the highlights is the beautiful hand-painted Armenian ceramics, which make for lovely home decor or gifts.

Another unique item to look for is an oil lamp replica from the Roman or Byzantine era, a meaningful memento of the Old City of Jerusalem’s ancient past. Be sure to take the time to explore the variety of shops, each with its own unique offering.

Walking route for Jewish Quarter Old City of Jerusalem Map

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➡️ Open waking route for Jewish Quarter on Google Maps

Christian Quarter

The Christian Quarter buzzes northwest with deep religious significance and timeless charm. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, is a significant pilgrimage spot.

Below are the things to do in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem:

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Considered the holiest Christian site in the world, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre marks the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

Step inside the majestic church and explore its various chapels, each beautifully adorned and filled with centuries-old history.

Don’t miss the Stone of Anointing and the Edicul and, the Chapel of the Angel.

Church of the Redeemer

One of the Old City of Jerusalem’s iconic landmarks, this 19th-century church is known for its 40-meter-high bell tower that offers stunning views of the Old City.

Ascend the 177 steps to enjoy a panoramic vista that stretches from the Mount of Olives to the Dome of the Rock.

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Church of Saint Mark

This unassuming building is one of the oldest churches in the Old City ofJerusalem. Its significance lies in the belief that it’s the site of the Last Supper.

Its Syrian Orthodox services are a unique experience, offering a taste of ancient Christian traditions.

Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa, or “Way of Sorrow,” is a spiritually significant route for Christian pilgrims, believed to be the path Jesus took carrying the cross toward His crucifixion.

14 Stations of the Cross mark it, each representing events from Jesus’ final journey. Walking the Via Dolorosa is a poignant experience, offering visitors a chance to reflect while absorbing the ambiance of the Old City.

Tip: You can book a separate tour for the Via Dolorosa route if you want to see the “footsteps of Jesus.” [Book Via Dolorosa Tour]

Austrian Hospice

Established in 1863, this historic guesthouse is worth visiting for its Viennese café and beautiful rooftop views.

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You can enjoy Austrian pastries amidst elegant architecture or climb up to the roof for a stunning panoramic view of the Old City of Jerusalem – an experience that awakes many travelers.

Monastery of the Flagellation

The first station of Via Dolorosa, Monastery of the Flagellation, commemorates where Roman soldiers flogged Jesus. The intricate mosaics depicting the events are worth examining closely.

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Alexander Nevsky Church

This Russian Orthodox church is a remarkable archaeological site. Excavations revealed a section of the original Byzantine-era Cardo and ancient Roman remnants, including the Arch of Ecce Homo, where Pontius Pilate is said to have presented Jesus to the crowds.

Muristan

A maze of narrow alleyways filled with shops and eateries, this area was once a hospital and hospice run by the Knights Hospitaller during the Crusades. Its blend of history and vibrant marketplace atmosphere make it a fascinating place to explore.

Terra Sancta Museum

This unique Via Dolorosa museum showcases the Holy Land’s rich Christian history and heritage. The multimedia exhibits, including an immersive 3D experience of Jerusalem during the time of Christ, make it a must-visit for history buffs.

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Christ Church

As the first Protestant church in the Middle East, Christ Church is significant in the region’s religious history. Its interior design blends Jewish and Christian symbols, reflecting the complex religious tapestry of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Attend one of their contemplative services for a peaceful respite from the busy Old City.

Jaffar Sweets

This family-run business excels in traditional Middle Eastern desserts like knafeh, baklava, and ma’amoul.

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Try the knafeh, a heavenly mix of gooey cheese, shredded phyllo dough, and sweet syrup. It’s served warm and is a delightful treat any time of the day.

Abu Shukri

This humble eatery has a reputation for serving arguably the best hummus in Jerusalem. The menu is simple, focusing on Middle Eastern staples like falafel, ful, and their renowned hummus.

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Abu Shukri’s hummus is velvety smooth and wonderfully creamy – it’s a must-try for any food lover. Enjoy your meal with fresh, warm pita bread and a side of pickles for a truly authentic experience.

Tip: It’s a busy spot, so consider going early or off-peak to avoid the crowds. And remember, in traditional style, your order is placed and paid at the counter before you enjoy your meal.

Old City Bazaar

As one of Jerusalem’s most vibrant and bustling markets, the Old City Bazaar offers an array of items that capture the city’s spirit.

You’ll find everything from handmade jewelry and traditional clothing to religious artifacts and antiques here.

Spice stalls display colorful mounds of Middle Eastern seasonings, while artisans sell intricately carved olive wood pieces, a local speciality.

Take your time to wander through the labyrinth of alleyways and discover unique keepsakes or gifts.

Tip: Bargaining is expected and part of the shopping experience in the bazaar, so don’t hesitate to negotiate prices.

Zak’s Jerusalem Gifts

Located close to Jaffa Gate, Zak’s Jerusalem Gifts offers a more curated shopping experience. The shop specializes in religious items and beautifully crafted souvenirs from the Holy Land.

You can find various items, from Armenian ceramic pottery and anointing oils to ancient coins and Dead Sea skincare products.

What makes Zak’s stand out is its collection of antiquities certified by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Walking route for Christian Quarter Old City of Jerusalem Map

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➡️ Open waking route for Christian Quarter on Google Maps

🕌 Muslim Quarter

The Muslim Quarter, the largest and most populous, brims with lively markets, aromatic spices, and echoes of the Islamic call to prayer.

Visit the magnificent Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, iconic landmarks revered in Islam. Explore the lively Souq Khan al-Zeit for a taste of local life, crafts, and cuisine.

The quarter also houses several important Christian sites, including the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, making it an integral part of the city’s religious tapestry.

Below are the things to do in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem:

Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque, known as the “Farthest Mosque,” is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

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Situated on the Temple Mount, it holds a significant place in Islamic tradition as the site from which Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended to Heaven during the Night Journey.

With its silver-colored dome and spacious courtyard, the mosque stands as an architectural masterpiece, reflecting Islamic design and Umayyad aesthetics.

Tip: Only Muslims are typically permitted inside the mosque. For non-Muslims, the courtyard area offers fascinating architectural elements and the ambiance of profound religious significance.

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is an iconic Jerusalem landmark, with its magnificent golden dome visible from various parts of the city.

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It’s a crucial site in Islamic tradition, believed to be where Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven. The building is a work of art adorned with intricate Islamic mosaics, Arabic calligraphy, and an imposing Byzantine design.

Tip: Non-Muslims can’t enter, but you can take photos on the view deck.

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, is one of the most important religious sites in the world, with deep significance for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

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It’s believed to be the biblical Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice. For Muslims, it’s revered as the place of Prophet Muhammad’s ascension to Heaven.

The esplanade offers fantastic views of the Old City and houses significant structures like the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Lions’ Gate

The Lions’ Gate, also known as St. Stephen’s Gate, serves as the starting point for the Via Dolorosa. The gate gets its name from the two lion symbols carved into the walls, attributed to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

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It’s also near the Pool of Bethesda and the Church of Saint Anne. Walking through the Lions’ Gate, visitors embark on a historical journey that weaves through the religious fabric of Jerusalem.

Damascus Gate

The Damascus Gate, one of Jerusalem’s most beautiful entrances, is a bustling hub filled with street vendors and buzzing local life.

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Its grand arches and fortified walls reflect the city’s rich architectural history. Known as “Bab al-Amud” in Arabic, it’s the primary link between the Old City and East Jerusalem.

Muslim Quarter Market (Souq Khan al-Zeit)

The Muslim Quarter Market, or Souq Khan al-Zeit, is a vibrant bazaar teeming with life. Narrow, winding streets are lined with shops selling an array of goods: colourful spices, fresh produce, traditional clothes, and handcrafted souvenirs.

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Smells of freshly baked bread, grilled meats, and strong coffee fill the air, while shopkeepers invite passers-by to peruse their wares.

Islamic Museum on the Temple Mount

The Islamic Museum on the Temple Mount offers a deep dive into Islamic history and art. Its collection includes ceramics, textiles, coins, and ancient manuscripts, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the Islamic world.

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While visiting the museum, don’t miss the displays of architectural fragments from the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Each item tells a story, making it a fascinating stop for history and art enthusiasts.

The Kotel Tunnels

The Kotel Tunnels, or the Western Wall Tunnels, provide a fascinating journey into Jerusalem’s past. The underground labyrinth reveals hidden sections of the Western Wall and insights into ancient life.

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Explore ancient cisterns, ritual baths, and archways, and stand on a street during the Second Temple period

Lina Restaurant

Nestled in the heart of the bustling Muslim Quarter, Lina is a renowned culinary institution famed for its sublime hummus.

Many locals and international visitors regard Lina’s hummus as the best in the city, revered for its creamy texture and rich, balanced flavors.

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Apart from hummus, the menu offers a variety of traditional Middle Eastern fare such as falafel, shawarma, and salads.

Tip: Ask for “hummus with everything,” which typically includes a generous portion of hummus served with toppings like chickpeas, olive oil, parsley, and lemon juice.

Map for Muslim Quarter Old City of Jerusalem

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➡️ Open waking route for Muslim Quarter on Google Maps

⭐ Old City of Jerusalem Tours

⁉️ FAQ: Jerusalem Old City Travel

The Old City of Jerusalem is called the “Old City.” It’s a 0.9 square kilometer area within the modern city of Jerusalem.

The Old City of Jerusalem is significant due to its immense religious, historical, and cultural importance to the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Old City is divided into four quarters: The Armenian Quarter, The Jewish Quarter, The Christian Quarter, and The Muslim Quarter.

ABSOLUTEL! Do not skip Jerusalem when you travel to Israel! The city offers a unique blend of history, culture, cuisine, and spiritual significance unmatched by any other place.

Yes, people still live in the Old City of Jerusalem. It’s home to a diverse population of about 37,000 people as of 2021.

The Old City is generally safe to walk around during the day. Just stay on popular tourist routes and streets at night.

The Old City of Jerusalem is generally safe for tourists. If you follow the tourist route, you will be fine. Do not explore places that are not OK to visit for tourists and foreigners.

Yes, you can wear shorts in the Old City of Jerusalem. However, you must dress modestly when visiting holy sites. Make sure your shoulders and knees are covered.

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5 Comments

  1. I would love to visit Jerusalem and would find it so humbling to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To stand in the place where Jesus was crucified must surely be a moment that stays with you for a lifetime. I enjoyed reading about all the aspects of Jerusalem in this article.

  2. Great guide, particularly the addition of the maps as I am forever getting lost! Would love to visit one day, thanks for sharing!

  3. This is good timing, I recently did a trip to Jordan but didn’t have time to visit any surrounding countries. I loved it so much that I really want to come back to this region and explore more. Some new friends I met on that trip did continue on to Jerusalem and I was jealous of their pictures. It seems really overwhelming though to try to fully grasp the immense history here, your post is so helpful on that front. I love how you broke it up by quarter. I’m surprised there’s such a big Armenian presence, seems kind of random but I guess I’m not knowledgeable enough about the history.

    I love the inclusion of the walking map, I often screenshot those and reference them throughout my time in a city – thank you!

  4. Thanks for the comprehensive guide and I so appreciate you including the maps, I find that to useful!

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