We purchased dried strawberries and whole bunch of different spices including a Hot Moroccan Paprika.
After a quick detour back to the hotel to drop off our purchases we proceeded down Jaffa Rd toward the Damascus Gate area and the Garden tomb. This is one potential site of Jesus’ burial (the other is the Holy Sepulchre, see below). Run by a collection of Protestant denominations this site refreshingly lacks a large church. Instead it is a surprisingly peaceful garden, and one of the highlights of Jerusalem for us.
We then walked through the Damascus gate into the old city, passing through the Muslim quarter along the Via Dolorasa. With a few minutes to spare we quickly visited St. Anne’s Church and the Bethesda Pool just before they closed for the lunch hour. The Bethesda grounds were lined with bright red poppies that were beautiful against the old stone walls.
Along the same stretch we saw some interesting alleys, including the Nun’s Ascent.
We passed through the Lion’s Gate and made it into the Muslim cemetery that rings the eastern walls just as they were closing the gates. Though the cemetery is in need of repair and general upkeep, the views to the other side of the Kidron Valley were fantastic.
We returned to the Old City through the Dung Gate (how unfortunate) and headed to lunch at the Armenian Tavern, a restaurant, not surprisingly, in the Armenian Quarter, then on to Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
note the ladder under the middle window– it has been there since at least the 1850′s, and no one is allowed to move it.
This church is really a sprawling collection of buildings that have been built on the Orthodox site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. The inside is a bewildering mix of faiths, paintings, frescoes, etc.
It was rather busy when we arrived, so Leandra and I returned on our last day to spend more time exploring – lucky for us it was more peaceful and easier to get around on our second try.
After the Sepulchre we walked to the Jaffa gate to find a taxi that would take us to the top of the Mount of Olives, a large hill just east of the Old City. The overlook had a fantastic vantage point of the Temple Mount and the rest of Jerusalem.
You can really see the sandstorm in the air, a first for us. We walked down the hill past the Jewish cemetery (very pricey plots) and to the Garden of Gethsemane and Church of All Nations (also known as the Basilica of the Agony).
Now near the base of the Mt. of Olives we walked through the Kidron Valley, this time getting a better view of some of the tombs.
After a walk through the valley we came up the other side back to the base of the Old City. The differences from one side of the street to the other were stark and dramatic – on one side, an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem, on the other the walls and archaeological exploration of the City of David.
Both photos were taken from the same spot.
We continued our walk around the city and over Mt. Zion to arrive in the beautiful Yemin Moshe neighborhood.
After another 15 minutes of walking we were back to our hotel in time for a bit of relaxation at happy hour.
Later in the evening after dinner we caught the end of the light show on the city walls, which was quite the juxtaposition of old and modern, and a good way to wrap-up our time in Israel.
Many thanks to my parent’s friends Richard and Nathan for the great suggestions and guidance around the city!