Israel 2012: Jerusalem, Day 2 & 3

by | May 22, 2012 | International Travel, Travel

We started our second day walking to the Mahane Yehuda Market, aka the Shuk, to explore the market. Reminiscent of the markets in Barcelona, we saw numerous spices, fruits, meats, etc.

spices at The World Spices

dried fruits @ Mahane Yehuda Market

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.

Pray for Peace

Garden Tomb entrance
Garden Tomb entrance- the steps take you over a track where a large stone would have been rolled to close the entrance

Garden Tomb
inside the tomb, notice the carved-out area for feet

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.


St Anne's Church grounds
ancient bath and waterworks

Along the same stretch we saw some interesting alleys, including the Nun’s Ascent.

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.

Arabic graveyard overlooking Mount of Olives
graveyard overlooking Mount of Olives

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.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
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.

Chapel of the Angel
Chapel of the Angel

Golgotha @ Church of the Holy Sepulchre 
Golgotha @ Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
decorations everywhere you look

Church of the Holy Sepulchre rotunda dome
rotunda dome

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.

Old City 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).

Jewish graves

olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane
very old olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane

 Church of All Nations
Church of All Nations, with one of the most beautiful ceilings we’ve ever seen

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.

Mount of Olives

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.

looking east

looking west

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.

Yemin Moshe
views like this make the stairs a little bit easier

Yemin Moshe
so many flowers!

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.

me with pink lights on the Old City walls
the sandstorm made it difficult to get this photo, as the flash kept lighting up the dust in the air

Many thanks to my parent’s friends Richard and Nathan for the great suggestions and guidance around the city!

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)