Jerusalem, Israel – On Sunday morning we got up early and made our way to the bus station to find a  sherut or shares taxi to Jerusalem. Sunday is a work day in Israel as the weekend is Friday and Saturday so we wanted to make sure we had enough time to get through rush hour so we would not miss our tour.


We met our group at the Jaffa Gate. Before we began, our guide instructed us to leave all religious artifacts behind because we were visiting the Temple Mount. If anyone had bibles or other large religious items they would have to leave them and pick them up after the tour. Ever since my mother gave me my grandmother’s rosary at my wedding I have always carried it with me when I travel. The guide said as long as I keep it out of site when entering the Temple Mount I should be okay. 


Sean outside of the Jaffa Gate

Our first stop was a small gothic chapel  which n the 15th century was converted to a mosque. It is said that the Last Supper and Pentecost took place in this room.

We were actually visiting on Pentecost so there were masses held in the church next door and the reverence of the site was palpable. Although all Christian denominations are permitted to visit this room the Eucharist is not celebrated here and will not be until (or if) it is converted into a church again.

The room is located above the Tomb of David. When the room was converted to a mosque Muslims were less concerned about honoring the last supper and more about the tomb. The stained glass windows and features in the room reflect its time as a mosque.


Inside the room of the Last Supper


Stained Glass Window in the chapel


Mihrab built in the chapel when it was a mosque


Sculpture of an olive tree  gifted to the church

We then walked to the roof of the room which until 1967 after The Six Days War  was the closest Jews could get to the Western Wall. The second president of the state of Israel, Yitzchak Ben Zvi built a room on the roof and often slept there. He wanted to see the sunrise over the Mt. of Olives and would meet with scholars to read and study the Torah.


View from the rooftop the Western Wall is below the gold Dome of the Rock


President’s Room

We then headed down to the Tomb of David which as I mentioned, is located below the last supper room. The tomb is now an active synagogue. Something that struck me over and over during our day in Jerusalem was how close in proximity holy sites for Judaism ,Christianity and Islam are. For my whole life I have read, watched and heard stories about the turmoil in this region and I must admit actually being in Jerusalem gave me a greater appreciation of the difficulty of this situation.

As we entered the synagogue, men and women were separated by a wooden partition. On the women’s side it struck me how many different traditions hold this places sacred. As people entered they walked up to the tomb places both hands and forehead on the tomb and prayed.


Entrance to King David’s Tomb


Partition that separates the woman and men’s side of King David’s Tomb


King David’s Tomb


View of the Tomb from the men’s side


View of the Tomb from the women’s side


Statue of Kind David outside of the Tomb

After lunch we visited the Western Wall, the only remaining portion of the Jewish Temple. Herod the Great  rebuilt the Temple and it was the largest shrine in the Roman world. In 70AD the Romans destroyed the Temple leaving only the Western Wall.  As we entered the  Western Wall plaza we were again separated by gender. It was powerful to see everyone praying and crying near the wall. It was impossible not to be overcome with the holiness of this site.



View of the Western Wall from the plaza. If you look to the left of the flag you can see the wall that separated the two sides.


Sean at the Western Wall


Paper in the cracks of the Western Wall


Men’s section of the Western Wall


We then walked over to the entrance of the Temple Mount. To enter we had to wait in line as they only open during certain times of the day. As we waited, our guide told us that there is no guarantee that we would even open the doors today. The Temple Mount is obviously a very contentious places between Jews and Muslims and the status quo of tolerance that exists right now is incredible fragile. Remember when we were told not to bring in religious artifacts one reason is to not upset this status quo. Before walking to the Mount wenwent through airport like security. Once through this, we to walk up the wooden walkway past the Western Wall. Once we reach the top we were inspected by Muslim guards to make sure we were appropriately dressed. Even though imwas wearing a long skirt I was asked to pull my skirt down to further cover my ankles.

Located on the Temple Mount are several important landmarks. One is theAl Aqsa Mosque , the third holiest mosque in Islam. The first two located in Mecca and Medina.  Another landmark is the Dome of the Rock which is one of Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmarks. Originally built in 691 AD it is now one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture.


Shows how close the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock are. The wooden walkway leads straight to the entrance of the Dome of the Rock.


Entering the Dome of the Rock we walked under this sign and went through airport like security. Once we reached the top we went through modestly security. Anyone not dressed modestly had to take scarves and cover themselves.


Al Aqsa Mosque, third holiest mosque in Islam


Approaching the Dome of the Rock is this fountain. It was originally fed by the roman aqueducts from Bethlehem and was used by Muslims to wash before prayer.


Dome of the Rock


Beautiful mosaics



Qubbat al – Silsilah (The Dome of the Chain )


Interior of the Dome of the Chain


When we were getting our picture taken Sean reached and touched my back. We were promptly yelled at because there should be no public displays of affection.


We learned our lesson for the second picture


Across from the Temple Mount you can see the golden domes of The Church Mary Magdalene a Russian Orthodox church located on the Mt of Olives above the Garden of Gethsemane


The Temple Mount was only open for an hour and we were eventually asked to leave. We then headed to the Via Dolorosa (latin: The Way of Sorrows) which is the street that Jesus walked along on his way to his crucifixion. The route begins near the Lion’s Gate which is in the Muslim Quarter and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and is also known as the  Stations of the Cross.


Street sign for Via Dolorosa

Below I have listed the stations of the cross with links to another site with additional information and pictures of that station. I have included the photos we took but we did not take one of every location.

1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death



2nd Station: Jesus carries His cross

The Second Station is located on the present site of a Franciscan monestary. There are two churches here one for the flagellation and one for the




Stained Glass window inside the Church of the Flagellation


Inside Church of the Flagellation

3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time



4th Station: Jesus meets his mother

The 4th station is located right around the corner from the 3rd station. Now there is an Armenian church, Church of our Lady of the Spasm located on this site.


5th Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross



Located at station 5 is a small Franciscan Church dedicated to Simon who helped Jesus his cross. The road here turns sharply and leads to a steep stairway leading to the market.


The steep road Jesus walked up while carrying his cross

6th Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus



7th Station: Jesus falls the second time


Behind these doors is a small chapel

8th Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Unfortunately, we did not get any pictures of this station.but please click on the link above to learn more.

9th Station: Jesus falls a third time


The 9th station is located outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher


Occasionally people will carry a cross along the route

10th Station: Jesus clothes are taken away

The 10th station took places at the entrance of Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In the picture below you see two large arch entrances, this is the location of the 10th station.


The two large arches is the location of the 10th station


Closer view of the location of the 10th station


11th Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the hill of  called Golgotha where Jesus was nailed to the cross. Now there is a Franciscan alter marking this spot.


When you enter the Church you climb stairs that take you to this chapel. This is located on the hill of Golgotha



12th Station: Jesus dies on the cross

The 12th Station is marked by the ornate Greek Orthodox Chapel of the Crucifixion. People wait in line to touch the limestone rock beneath the alter that is believed to be the spot where the cross stood. If you look under the glass you can see a crack in the rock. It has been said that this crack was caused by the earthquake that occurred after Jesus’ death.


The Chapel of the Crucifixion


The Chapel of the Crucifixion


Limestone rock believed to be where the cross stood


Limestone rock where the cross stood


Chapel of Adam located below the Greek Orthodox chapel seen above. It is said that when Jesus died an earthquake occurred and through the crack in the limestone rock Jesus’ blood dripped to Adams grave located directly below. His blood then redeemed Adam’s sins.

13th Station: The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross


Mosaic located above the Stone of Anointing that shows Jesus being removed from the cross



Stone of Anointing, pilgrims come to this spot kiss the stone with reverence. This ritual dates back to the 12th century and the presents of this stone dates to 1810.


14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb


The tomb of Jesus we waited in a long line but eventually were able to go inside

Some other sites from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher


Ceiling paining inside the church





When pilgrims came to the church they would carve a cross in the walls





Here are a few final sites we saw along our tour


Hagia Sion a Benedictine Abbey

The following pictures are a few of different Armenian structures located in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is home of one of the oldest Armenian communities outside of Armenia. Many of the holiest sights are controlled by the Armenian population. The link above provides more information about this if you would like to read further.




This Golden Menorah was built by the Temple Institute  whose goal is to rebuilt holy vessels to one day go into the Temple when it is rebuilt




The Via Dolorosa winded in and out of the market place seen here



Outside of the Church of the Holy  Sepulcher





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