Today, I got to sleep in a tiny bit before we started the day, and let me tell you, I needed it. When we get home, I’m going to need to take so many naps (and I’m not even a nap person). Nonetheless, I still got up and had a lovely breakfast.
Our first stop today was the Mount of Olives. This is an incredibly important location in scripture, as Jesus did many things here. Zachariah also prophesied that He would return on the Mount of Olives. From the mountain, the view of Jerusalem was amazing. On the mountain, we saw a lot of people trying to sell us things, and we were also told to watch out for pickpockets which was kind of stressful, but the experience of going up there was still cool.
After walking down near the bottom of the mountain, we visited the traditional site of the garden of Gethsemane as well as the Church of all Nations. Both locations were beautiful, and though we don’t know if anything of significance happened there, I was still glad I was able to see them.
We then visited the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem. Here, we saw the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a lame man. This story in particular always fascinated me growing up, so to see where it happened in real life was crazy. We then saw St. Anne’s Church, which is the traditional birthplace of Mary. Our group sung a few songs in there, and the acoustics were incredible.
After this, we saw the ruins of a cistern carved into the moat of the Fortress Antonia. This fortress is very likely the place where Jesus was put on trial, and there are even some intact roads from the time of Jesus near where the fortress would have been.
From here, we started down the Via Dolorosa, which is the traditional path that Jesus walked to Golgotha. This path is divided into stations where people believed that certain events occurred during the walk. However, a fair few of these events are not even found in scripture and are merely traditions, and this road is fairly unlikely to be the real path.
Along the way, we stopped at a restaurant owned by one of Ami’s friends. They had some of the best food we’ve had the whole trip, and I also got to try lemonade with mint, which was very different but very good.
After lunch, we continued down the Via Dolorosa, and after crossing into the Christian quarter, we made it to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the traditional place where Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead. There were many chapels in here as well, one of which was the traditional place where the cross was found. We also saw an example of a regular first century tomb while we were there.
To me, the whole church was very gaudy, and while impressive in looks, it was unimpressive in character. There was no sense of peace in there, and I’ve even heard that when my dad last visited the church, the officials were giving bribes to people to get them further up in the line to see the traditional tomb of Jesus.
After this, we exited Jerusalem and visited the garden tomb, which is another possible location of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. I was very pleased and impressed by this visit, as the area was very peaceful. Additionally, our guide was very clear that while there is some pretty good evidence that this was the place, there’s really no way to know for certain. This was such a different atmosphere than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (not to mention I actually got to see the tomb here), and I left feeling like the garden tomb was much more likely to be the place.
After returning to the hotel and cleaning up, I had yet another lovely dinner. The chocolate cake here tastes like dreams come true. I can’t wait for tomorrow when we tour Herodium, Bethlehem, the Israel Museum, and the Shepherds’ Field.