We start with a breathtaking view of Jerusalem. As if in the palm of our hand, we see the Old City and the Temple Mount area spread before us and imagine the Second Temple destroyed in 70 CE and Solomon’s Temple before that, destroyed in 586 BCE.
Driving through the Kidron Valley (known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat) we will have a panoramic view of the Mount of Olives including the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations as well as of the monumental ancient Jewish burial tombs including Yad Avshalom, Beni Hazir and perhaps Zechariah.
Before entering the Old City through the Zion Gate we pass the Dormition Church where, some believe, Mary was assumed to heaven. We ascend to the traditional Room of the Last Supper, the Coenaculum (Mat 26:17-19) which is also perhaps where the disciples met after the ascension of Jesus to heaven (Acts 1:12-14). Possibly this is where “tongues as of fire” appeared before them. (Acts 2:1-4).
Also in Mount Zion is the Tomb of David. The large cenotaph is with a drape on which are embroidered various attributes of King David including the lyre he played, a crown and the words “David, King of Israel lives forever” in Hebrew. As this is a holy site for the Jewish people men and women are separated.
As we enter the Old City through the Zion gate we are in the Armenian Quarter and in its center the Church of St. James. We continue to the excavated Byzantine Cardo. Although this fifteen hundred year old main street of Jerusalem was partially destroyed and unused during the Moslem conquest it had a brief new lease of life during the Crusader period and the excavated Crusader shops are now modern stores.
Continuing through the Jewish Quarter we proceed to the Western Wall (Kotel). This two thousand year old wall is part of the encircling and supporting wall built by king Herod when the Temple Mount area was enlarged.
As we walk along the Via Dolorosa we join the many pilgrims who are following the Stations of the Cross ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the church built over the place of the crucifixion of Jesus and the burial tomb. Originally built in the Byzantine period, it was partially destroyed during the Persians and Moslem conquests and then rebuilt and slightly altered by the Crusaders.
After a short stroll through the market place we exit the Old City and continue to Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum commemorating both the annihilation of six million Jews and those righteous among the nations who endangered their lives while trying to save Jews.