Day 5: Jerusalem
Trip Start Jan 22, 2014
13Trip End Jan 29, 2014
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Where I stayed
What I did
Dome of the Rock
Jerusalem Archaeological Park
We started at Mount Zion, a hill just outside the Old City of Jerusalem, where we visited King David's Tomb. Men & women had to view the tomb separately, and men had to cover their heads (a yamaka was provided). This was a small place with a chapel outside the tomb for prayer and reflection (a couple of Orthodox Jews were present).
While hearing church bells ring, we walked into a courtyard to view a statue of King David playing a harp, which was facing the entrance to the Upper Room. Upon entering the Room of the Last Supper (Cenacle), I noticed the arched ceiling and ornate stained glass windows. Our guide offered some insight before we moved on.
We entered Jerusalem through the Zion Gate and walked through many small streets in the Armenian and Jewish Quarters to reach the Western (Wailing) Wall. After passing security (which was more eventful than expected), our group moved down towards the Wall to offer a prayer (both spoken & written). Everyone clensed their hands, and again men and women were split, with men receiving a yamaka to cover their heads. There were many Orthodox Jews present, as this is the only part of the Great Temple to survive Roman destruction. Built to support the western side of the Temple Mount, it is the most sacred structure of the Jewish people. I also noticed the strongest presence of Israeli soldiers and police in this area.
Our group then walked to the nearby Jerusalem Archaeological Park, where we discussed more about the southwestern wall construction, Roman roads and other ruins. This led to the Teaching Steps outside the southern wall of the Temple Mount, where Jesus taught about many things including the truth about himself as the Messiah and the Kingdom of God.
After exiting the Dung Gate, we went to a location nearby for lunch and more shopping!
We then drove to the Mount of Olives, passing by the King David Hotel, and the New, Damascus and Herod's Gates on the western wall (Christian & Muslim Quarters). Once atop the Mount, we took a group photo with a camel and began the walk down the steep hill, following the path of Jesus on Palm Sunday. We passed an expansive Jewish cemetery to the south, and entered an olive garden where a few people (including Jackson) sang songs in the Dominus Flevit Church, built in the shape of a teardrop to symbolize the tears of Christ while becoming overwhelmed by the beauty of the Second Temple and predicting its future destruction. We then took in the amazing view of the Kidron Valley and the eastern walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Once finished taking in the breathtaking view, we descended the remainder of the Mount of Olives to reach the Garden of Gethsamane. I had been looking forward to this all day... and I was not disappointed. Upon entering the walls, we walked around a beautiful olive tree garden and rested outside the Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony) to hear more insight from our tour guide and songs from Jackson. We ended our stay by touching a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. Wow.
Then we drove to our hotel to check-in and eat a phenomenal buffet dinner. But we weren't done! At 6:30 pm we got on another bus to tour Jerusalem by night...
First we drove to Mount Scopus, where Hebrew University is located, to get an amazing view of Jerusalem from the northeast. We also viewed a cave burial chamber, much like hundreds of others throughout the hillside. The bus then drove atop the eastern hills and stopped near the Church of the Ascension, where we took nighttime pictures of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.
Then we drove back to the southern wall of the Old City, entering the Dung Gate to visit the Western Wall once more at night. There were still crowds, since the wall is open to those wanting to pray 24 hours a day.
We finished the tour by walking through a modern shopping center to the west of the Old City, exiting right in front of the Citadel (Tower) of David and the Jaffa Gate (Christian Quarter).
Whew! A short bus ride back to the hotel, and now I'm ready for bed... mentally exhausted and ready to learn more about Jesus' ministry in Galilee tomorrow.