Our Holy Land pilgrimage: the Old City of Jerusalem

Ten years ago this month, Pete and I took the trip of a lifetime – a tour of the Holy Land. (Hard to believe it’s been that long ago!)

In previous posts, I’ve shared photos of the famous archeological and historical sites we visited (link HERE), the cities and towns where Jesus walked (link HERE), and the memorable experiences we had such as sharing communion on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee (link HERE).

One of the more fascinating parts of the trip was touring the Old City of Jerusalem. Walking through its narrow streets and alleys felt like stepping back in time.

Surrounded by ancient walls, the Old City is home to sites considered holy by three major religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, and the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine are all located there.

Here is a panoramic view.

Via Dolorosa – Latin for “Sorrowful Way” or “Way of Suffering” – is a processional route through the Old City. Believed to be the route that Jesus walked to his crucifixion, the path has been followed by Christian pilgrims for centuries.

Fourteen “stations” along the Via Dolorosa’s roughly half-mile path signify events mentioned in the New Testament and Christian tradition, and many pilgrims stop at each station for a short session of prayer and reflection.

Among the events commemorated are the places where Jesus was condemned to death, where he fell while carrying his cross, and where he was stripped of his garments.

Some of the stations are located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, pictured here, including a site believed to be the place where Jesus was crucified and another site believed to be Jesus’ empty tomb.

The Western Wall is a place of prayer and pilgrimage sacred to the Jewish people. The wall is believed by devout Jews to be the last remnant of a retaining wall that surrounded the Second Temple of Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

The Western Wall has a men’s entrance and a women’s entrance (above). Below, people stand next to the wall to pray. Again, there is a men’s section and a women’s section.

The Dome of the Rock (pictured below) is an Islamic shrine revered by Muslims as the spot from which they believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

The Foundation Stone and its surroundings which lie at the center of the dome are also considered the holiest site in Judaism. The Dome of the Rock is situated in the center of the Temple Mount, the site of Solomon’s Temple and the Second Jewish Temple.

Below is a close-up of the Dome of the Rock’s tiled facade.

The Cardo in Jerusalem’s Old City was the city’s main commercial avenue for 500 years. Cardos were generally lined with shops and vendors, and served as a hub of economic life, making them the “heart” of ancient cities.

Pictured above are ruins of the Cardo, and below is a mural depicting what the Cardo would have looked like in its heyday.

Today’s marketplaces in the Old City remain colorful. Tiny shops, open-air markets and food stalls fill the crowded alleyways. Throngs of tourists from all over the world make for some fascinating people-watching.

Some of the little shops are truly amazing.

Outdoor cafes offer delicious local favorites such as falafel and hummus.

A gentleman sitting in an alley with his very colorful pet bird attracts lots of attention from passersby.

Little gardens are tucked into the landscape everywhere.

When we were there, one of the flower beds contained a prayer I imagine millions of people have sent up over the years.

22 thoughts on “Our Holy Land pilgrimage: the Old City of Jerusalem

  1. Lovely photospread of a wonderful day! (I didn’t realize we had pictures of some of these places — glad to see you got a clear shot of that ladder outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The shrine is maintained by different Christian faith traditions — Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, etc. — and no one can agree which one has the right to move the ladder. So it’s stayed there propped up against a window for like 150 years.)

    Liked by 3 people

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