Monday, August 16, 2010
Jerusalem is a holy place to the world's Christian, Jewish & Muslim populations. From this panoramic photo you can see the walled old city. Just to the right of the midpoint you will see a gate in the wall. This is know as the Golden Gate. It is the gate through which it is believed Jesus Christ walked out of the city on the night of his arrest & where he will enter the city on his return to earth. The Gold dome is called, The Dome of The Rock. It is sacred to the Muslims who believe that Mohamed ascended to Heaven from this spot. The Rock is sacred as it is said to be the spot where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. It is a very complicated place to say the least and one can understand all the heated emotions of that area.
We walked the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus took to his crucifixion. Sadly, today, most of the stations of the cross are obscured along the way by shops.
The last 4 or 5 stations of the cross are within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is another very complicated place. The church is claimed by the Catholics, Orthodox Greeks, Coptics, Armenians, and maybe one or two faiths I forgot. Each religion has its own sector inside where the others do not dare to cross into. Because of all this strife, the keys to the Church were given to 2 prominent Muslim families who open & close it everyday. The Church was built over the spot where Jesus was crucified, contains the slab his body was laid on, his tomb, and many chapels.
We next crossed over into the Jewish quarter where we saw from a distance the Western or Wailing Wall. This is the only wall left from the second destruction of the temple built by Solomon--the first Temple built in Israel. We were not able to approach the wall because the day we visited happened to be the anniversary of the destruction of the temple, and therefore a very sacred day for the Jewish people.
After a short lunch break we were taken into Palestine to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. We visited the Church of the Nativity which holds the exact site of Jesus' birth & an area where it is believed the manger was located.
It was a life-long dream to make our pilgrimage to these sacred spots. Thanks for taking the time to read this long chronicle. I am enjoying sharing our trip with you. Just a few more stops to go!