As we stand above the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives we see the Old City and the Temple Mount where once stood Solomon’s Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
Below us we see the Garden of Gethsemane; the Church of All Nations and the Kidron Valley with its ancient Jewish burial tombs.
Entering the Old City via the Zion Gate we pass through the Armenian Quarter on route to the Jewish Quarter and the 1500 year old Byzantine Cardo. Partially destroyed and unused during the
Moslem conquest it had a brief new lease of life during the Crusader period. The excavated Crusader shops are now modern stores.
We stop at the Kotel; the Western Wall where Jews have prayed since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Built by King Herod it was a supporting wall enclosing the Temple Mount area.
The Via Dolorosa, also known as the Way of the Cross, is the route many pilgrims follow on their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the church built on the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and his burial tomb. Although the Byzantine church was partially destroyed during the Persian and Moslem conquests the rebuilt and redesigned Crusader Church preserved much of the earlier church.
We exit the Old City via the market and the Jaffa Gate for a short tour of the new city. A visit to Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Museum, reveals artifacts and photographs documenting the discrimination, persecution and finally the annihilation of Jewish communities across Europe. It also honors those righteous among the nations who risked their lives while trying to save Jews.