Monday February 16 - Jerusalem

Monday February 16 - Jerusalem
It was a chilly day in Jerusalem, but the sun was out for good parts of the day, and that made it more comfortable.
Walking along beside the city wall and in through the Lion's Gate gave us a bit of a sense of the scale of the wall and its stones.

The narrow street onto which we stepped was stunning for the fact of crowds of pedestrians, carts and 2-way vehicular traffic all sharing the small space. We had to take turns; not everyone could move at once.

 We emerged at the site of the Pool of Bethesda and the ruins surrounding it. Then we moved into the Church of St. Anne, where Rick and then the whole group sang to enjoy the magnificent acoustics.

At the Southern Wall we climbed the Teaching Steps, knowing that Jesus almost certainly taught there.

We could see the mikvahs below, where many new Christians were baptized on Pentecost.

 The excavations around the south-west corner of the temple are very interesting. We saw the stone from the pinnacle marked as the place for the priests to blow the shofar.

 The blocks that made up the temple, and that were thrown into the valley when the Romans destroyed it are immense! A first century street has  been uncovered there as well. Surprisingly it's quite intact despite the weight of rock that was dumped on it and stayed there for centuries.

 At the Western Wall, all around us were Bar Mitzvah celebrations with singing, dancing, drumming and laughter. As well there was a Change of Command ceremony for the Israeli Defense Force, and naturally a lot of security. It was hardly noticeable to most of us as we visited the Western Wall, placing prayers there for  many people back home.

The "Upper Room" is not the true location of the Last Supper, but rather was built by the Crusaders to commemorate it.

 Beneath is "David's Tomb", also unlikely to be the true site. We visited both.

 Lunch was in a buffet style restaurant below a very nice gift shop. This is the only place to buy the truly wonderful wood carvings made by Wisam and his extended family. His father created a marvelous and detailed model of Jerusalem after Bethlehem was cut off and he was  no longer able to visit the city. It took 3 years to create and holds pride of place in the shop.

 The road to the top of the Mount of Olives was rather alarming, but when we got there we were rewarded with a panoramic view of Jerusalem. Most of us did the Palm Sunday walk down, stopping at a small church, then in a park for a devotion. Rick based it on the events of Palm Sunday and at Gethsemane.
We reached Gethsemane at the bottom, and spent some time contemplating it.

The Church of the Agony (or Church of Gethsemane or Church of All Nations) stands beside the Garden. In it, beside the altar is the stone on which Jesus prayed just before he was betrayed.

We had a short break at the hotel for dinner, then several of us bundled up in as many layers as we could get on our bodies, borrowed blankets from the hotel, and went to a fabulous sound and light show on the walls of the old city. It was a colourful and lively review of the history of Jerusalem and in spite of the cold we were glad we went.

Link to all Photos for February 16

Link to February 17 Posting

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