To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)
Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture
Israel IV: Caesarea and Haifa
Israel V: Acre (Akko)
Israel VI: The Sea of Galilee
Israel VII: Golan Heights
Israel VIII: Nazareth
Israel IX: Masada and the Dead Sea
Israel X: Old City Jerusalem at Night
Israel XI: Old City Jerusalem Daytime Part 1
Here’s the map again, to help you follow along our path. The last post took us with our guide through key Muslim and Jewish sites. This post takes us through Christian/Catholic sites and the celebration of the first night of Hanukah.
We started this portion of the tour at the Church of St. Anne, which is the birthplace of Mary. It was very calm and peaceful here.
It has a beautiful church (known for it’s acoustics), gardens that surround it, and even these ruins above of where the church used to stand. Again, there are so many layers to this city.
Mary was born in the Muslim Quarter, so while on the grounds it was fun catching this shot above. Look at all the men’s brightly colored clothes. I thought it was funny, because the women where dark colored wraps and yet look at all those colors she’s working with.
This is inside the church. You can see the ceiling curves which helps it get its great acoustic sound. It’s not uncommon to have choirs and singing tour groups stop in to rehearse in this space to enjoy the sound.
Down in the basement is an area dedicated to Mary’s birthplace. Just like everything here, it claims to be “the site of her birth” but it’s hard to really know after all this time.
From here we walked the Via Dolorosa, which also begins in the Muslim Quarter. See the map above.
Walking the walk…
This is supposedly where Jesus touched, and you can see many peoples hands have touched the same place. This is right around station 5.
Here we are at the last station, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. All along the walk you can see Catholic groups singing and reading from the bible as they walk. It’s a busy path.
I touched on this before, but the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is owned by many catholic sects. For example, above is the portion owned by the Ethiopians. They don’t own within the church, but this is a monastery just outside of it. According to Wikipedia, the Holy Sepulchre is owned by the Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic Churches, with the Greek Orthodox Church having most of the ownership, and the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox, and the Syriac Orthodox have lesser responsibilities. There are strict rules about who can pray where within this space. And even who should enter from which entrance. It’s strange.
Above is the Golgotha Altar. There was a long line to crawl in this space and reach your hand to touch the alter through a small opening. I did not wait in this line, since Im not Catholic.
Above within the church is the stone that Jesus was supposedly laid on. All day people come and hug/rub it. It’s weird, although clearly means something important to all the people who do this. My guide book said that the “real” stone was damaged in a fire and this stone is a more current replacement stone.
Our guide took us into a corner room where you can clearly see the damage from the fire. A smaller religious sect owns this room and doesn’t have the money to repair it. If they accept financial help from another religion in the church, then they would have to share ownership. It’s very political, but it was cool to see an untouched part of this church.
Our guide wanted to show us a view of the Old City from a hillside, so we exited through the Jewish Quarter which gave us a glimpse at the preparations for the first night of Hanukkah.
After our tour day finished, we relaxed and then decided to head back into the Old City to explore the first night of Hanukkah.
It was so beautiful seeing all the lanterns outside the homes. Walking through the alleys and walkways lit by candle. I can’t express just how beautiful it was.
And there are no tacky menorahs here. They were all so pretty and artistic.
Such fun getting lost in the pathways. At one point we heard singing and gutar playing, and followed it to see a group of teens celebrating with song in an alley all together. I couldn’t take a picture because it was an intimate religious moment to walk into. But lets just say it will all stick with me for life. Such a great night.
Santa’s were starting to come out too.
We decided to have dinner in the New City this night at Touro which was a lovely walk down the street from our hotel. The food was excellent and our waitress helped us plan our next days activities and we wined and dined.