Jerusalem is a city filled with history, past and present. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and includes many sites of key religious importance. The Old City is definitely a place where you want to spend a few days. We only had one day, but were able to make the best of it to see some of the major sites.
The Old City
The Old City has four different quarters in it. They are the Muslim Quarter, Christian Quarter, Armenian Quarter and Jewish Quarter. It also includes the Temple Mount which was open only to Muslims on the day we were there. Because of that, we focused on other sites in and around the Old City.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This church, as with the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, is maintained by the Roman Catholics, the Greek Orthodox and the Armenians. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered to be the most important site in Christianity. Pilgrims have been coming here for the past 1600 years. The church includes some very important places related to the crucifixion of Jesus and his death.
Chapel of the Crucifixion
Located inside the church, is the site where it is believed Jesus was crucified. The main altar belongs to the Greek Orthodox. Beneath the altar is a silver disc that marks the spot where the cross stood.
Stone of Annointing
Also in the church is another holy site, the Stone of Anointing. It is here where it is believed Mary received the body of Jesus after it was brought down from the cross and where he was anointed before his burial. Visitors crowd around the stone for a moment of prayer and to place their hands on the stone.
Tomb of the Holy Sepulchre
This is the tomb where it is believed the body of Jesus was placed. The tomb was originally in a cave and the rotunda in the church was built around it. A very long line of visitors wraps around the tomb for the opportunity to spend a few minutes inside.
This is one of the holiest and most disputed areas in the world. This is the site where it is believed from which Muhammad ascended into heaven. It is closed to tourists on Fridays and Saturdays, we were there on a Saturday, but you can still see the heightened security as you approach the gates. Even though we were unable to enter the Mount, we did catch a beautiful view of the Dome of the Rock from a nearby vantage point. As I was getting ready to take the picture, the sun came out and the gold-plated dome was set against a blue sky. That’s the featured image of today’s post.
The Western Wall was built some 2000 years ago and was a retaining wall for the outer portion of the temple. The temple was destroyed by the Romans and the wall has become the holiest Jewish site in the world. Most of us know it as the Wailing Wall where the Jewish people come to pray.
Dome of the Rock and Western Wall – Jerusalem
St. Anne’s Church
Within the Muslim Quarter is St. Anne’s Church. This church has some of the best Crusader architecture in Jerusalem. Historical ruins are located on the grounds as seen in the picture below.
These grounds have two sites of religious importance. First, the church is believed to have been built over the house where the Virgin Mary’s parents lived and where she was born. In the lower level of the church is a chapel honoring this event. Second, one of the sunken pools on the grounds is believed to be the Pool of Bethesda. It is located amidst the ruins and is the spot where Jesus healed a sick man as noted in the New Testament book of John.
Garden of Gethsemane
It is in this garden that it is believed Jesus prayed after the Last Supper and where he was arrested by the Temple guards. The garden is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives and contains some of the world’s oldest olive trees.
Via Dolorosa – Following The Last Walk of Jesus
Walking down from the Garden of Gethsemane and entering the Old City, one can follow the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows). This is believed to be where Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. Each site is identified with a number on the side of a building. Many of the sites also have a memorial as shown below at Station #3 where it is said Jesus fell for the first time carrying the cross.
Saying Goodbye to Jerusalem
There is so much to see in Jerusalem. I know we just saw a few of the major sites, but we saw enough to get a better understanding and appreciation of the city and its history.
Sunday was an early morning so we could travel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv for a flight to Budapest. It was cheaper for the three of us to come back on Wizz Air, overnight in Budapest and then continue home on Monday on another Wizz Air flight. So we spent the night in Budapest, the city that is becoming my favorite “go-to city” in Europe, had a great dinner and even a ride on the Budapest Eye with a nice view of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Monday was a flight back to Pristina where I’m writing this post on Tuesday evening. We all say this was a trip of a lifetime seeing major historical sites and having a great experience of camel trekking in Wadi Rum. During these past nearly three weeks we did see a lot of History Thru Travel.