Today we walk in the steps of Jesus as we spend the day exploring the sites and sounds of the old city. The first stop of our walking tour takes us to the Wailing Wall (also known as the Western Wall), originally part of the retaining wall that supported the ancient Jerusalem Temple before it was completely destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. The exposed section of the wall is approximately 62 feet high with another 40 or some feel underground. From the Wailing Wall we walk to the Temple Mount, the original site of the Jewish Temple and current home of the Dome of the Rock. This site is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Our next stop is Saint Anne's Church, a completely preserved church from the Crusader period. Built in 1142 by the widow of Baldwin I, the first king of Jerusalem, the church supposedly marks the location of the childhood home of the Virgin Mary. Near to this church we will visit the archaeological remains of the Pool of Bethesda. It is here that Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath who had been paralyzed for 38 years (John 5:1-9).
After lunch we walk down the Via Dolorosa, the "Way of Sorrow." This refers to the route followed by Christ after his condemnation on his way to the place of execution on Golgotha. The Via Dolorosa leads us to the modern site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church was originally built by the mother of Emperor Constantine in 330 A.D. to commemorate the place where Christ was crucified and buried. Archaeology and tradition suggest that this is the most likely area where these events occurred.
Next we visit Garden Tomb, an alternative site where some believe Christ was actually buried, where we will celebrate a special communion service. Finally our day ends with a spectacular sound and light show at the David Citadel. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Our tour of Jerusalem takes us out of the old city and to the "new" Jerusalem. We first experience the Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. A decade in the making, the Holocaust History Museum presents the story of the grim events of the Holocaust from a unique Jewish perspective, emphasizing the experiences of the individual victims through original artifacts (like the shoes found in the camps and pictured on the right), survivor testimonies and personal possessions. At the end of the Museum’s historical narrative is the Hall of Names — a repository for the Pages of Testimony of millions of Holocaust victims, a memorial to those who perished.
We spend the rest of the day walking through Hezekiah's tunnel, a 1,500-foot-long-tunnel created by King Hezekiah in 701 BC to protect Jerusalem’s water source, the Gihon Spring, from the invading Assyrians (2 Chron. 32:2-4). Then in addition to visiting teh Cardo, the reconstructed colonnaded main street of Byzantine Jerusalem, we will also visit the Last Supper room, the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, and the Jewish Quarter.
Our day concludes with one of the highlights of the trip, a journey back to the Wailing Wall to welcome in the Sabbath with the many Jews we will find singing songs and dancing in circles, arm in arm. It will be a vespers you will never forget. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
We being our last full day of touring in Israel by visiting the Israel Museum. Founded in 1965 as the national museum of Israel , the museum has become one of the leading art and archaeology museums in the world. The Museum has extensive collections of biblical archaeology, Judaica, ethnography, fine art, and artifacts. It is also the home to the Shrine of the Book which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered 1947–56 in 11 caves in and around Qumran, as well as archaeological remains from the Zealots who died at Masada. The museum also is home to the Aleppo Codex, a 10th-century manuscript believed to be the oldest complete copy of the Jewish Scriptures in Hebrew. Another popular attraction of the museum is a detailed model of the topography and architectural character of the city as it was in A.D. 66, the year in which the Great Revolt against the Romans erupted, leading to the eventual destruction of the city and the Temple.
In the afternoon we travel to the last of the desert fortresses used by Herod the Great--the Herodium. Constructed over a small pre-existing hill, the Herodium was a fortress for Herod to quickly flee to from Jerusalem and a luxurious palace for his enjoyment. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Herod was buried here. After searching for decades for Herod's tomb, archaeologist Ehud Netzer discovered the remains of Herod's tomb in 2007. Located only three miles from Bethlehem, the Herodium would have been visible to Mary and Joseph from the stable they stayed in (as pictured on the right).
Our final stop is to Bethlehem, the childhood home of King David and the birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem has been a major site of Christian pilgrimage since the construction of the Church of the Nativity in the 4th century A.D. In the 5th century, Jerome built a monastery here and with the aid of local rabbis translated the Old Testament into Latin from the original Hebrew for the Vulgate, the standard Latin translation of the Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church. In addition to visiting the Church of the Nativity, we will also visit the fields where the angels are said to have visited the shepherds telling them about the birth of Jesus.
Transfer to Tel Aviv to catch our flight to Istanbul, Turkey and then our connecting flight to Kayseria. Dinner and overnight in Kayseria.