Panoramic view of Mount Olives, Kidron Valley and Garden of Gethsemane. On Mount Zion, visit David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. Enter Old City through Zion Gate and pass through the Armenian and Jewish Quarters. Extensive visit in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, place of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.
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 along the Kidron Valley we have an excellent view of Mount Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations as well as of the monumental ancient Jewish burial tombs.
On Mount Zion 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 on 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.
We enter the Old City through the Zion gate past the Armenian Quarter 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 Kotel, the Western Wall. 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. As we enter the Crusader arched doorway we notice the adjacent entrance which was sealed when the Moslems reconquered Jerusalem and the wooden trapdoors before the entrance – Crusader tombs.
Ascending the steep steps we will see the Orthodox and Catholic Chapels on Calvary, the place of the Crucifixion, which are immediately above the apse dedicated to Adam. Behind the Stone of Anointing is the modern Byzantine-style mosaic which helps us to envisage the site as it was when the crucifixion took place two thousand years ago.
We will join the line waiting to enter the Chapel of the Angel and the burial chamber and thereafter will continue to explore the Church first stopping at the Syrian Orthodox chapel and burial tombs. Passing a number of small chapels we will descend to Church of St. Helen, who initiated the original construction of the Church, and to the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross. Thereafter we will exit the Old City and return to our hotels.