Jerusalem, Israel

About a year ago my friend Donna told me she and one of her cousins, George, were planning a trip to Israel and asked me if I wanted to come along.  Naturally being someone who enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures, I said yes without hesitation.  After all the planning, the time had finally come and we finally touched down in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Arriving in the early evening, we collected our bags and rental car and drove to our first destination in East Jerusalem.  The next morning, we woke up super early to head to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  For the record, I will state I am not a religious person.  I believe in being a good person and karma and some higher being but I don’t subscribe to any organized religion.  Having said that, even I must admit this place is a BIG deal.  Like a really big deal.  This place holds 2 of the holiest sites in all of Christianity.  The first being where Jesus was crucified and the other being the empty tomb where they say Jesus was buried and resurrected.


Exterior of courtyard


Tomb of Jesus is enclosed within this shrine, called the Aedicule


Stairway leading to the Calvary (Golgotha), traditionally regarded as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion


Stone of Anointing, which tradition believes to be the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial


Ornate decorations in the Calvary


Inside the Calvary where it’s believed that Jesus was crucified


Mosaic near the Stone of Anointing

After leaving the church, we walked around the city some, taking in some of the sights.


Damascus Gate to the old city of Jerusalem in early morning


Saw this in a shop window and it made me smile


We also visited the Tower of David which provided some nice views of the city.


Tower of David


Looking at the city from the top of the Tower of David


Interior gardens and structure of Tower of David

The next morning, we made our way to the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall).  The Western Wall is considered holy due to its connection to the Temple Mount. Because of the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though the holiest site in the Jewish faith lies behind it.



First glimpse of the wall in the distance (zoomed in)


Seeing the razor wire in the foreground struck me as a powerful image.  Wall is in the background.



Men only side of the wall


Women only side of the wall.  You can see the notes tucked into the available crevices in the stones.


Sun illuminating on the wall as it rises

After spending time at the Western Wall, we visited the Dome of the Rock (Islamic Shrine), which is also on Temple Mount.  The site’s great significance for Muslims derives from traditions connecting it to the creation of the world and to the belief that the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey to heaven started from the rock at the center of the structure.  Since we are not Muslim, we were not able to enter but we walked around the grounds, taking in all of the beautiful detail of this site.


Dome of the Rock


Dome of the Rock



Next, we grabbed a taxi to the Mount of Olives.  There is a small church at the top of Mount of Olives which is supposedly where Jesus ascended up to heaven.  It also offers spectacular views of the entire city.


Spot where Jesus ascended up to heaven (according to believers)


Amazing view of city from Mount of Olives


View from Mount of Olives


Looking down on Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery


Church of Mary Magdalene (Russian Orthodox Church)



Such a beautiful structure!

We ended our time in Jerusalem with a visit to Vad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.  It has extensive exhibits documenting the horror that happened.  Photography isn’t permitted (which I didn’t realize) so I will only show a couple shots below out of respect.



Hall of names

After our incredible time in Jerusalem, we set off for a trip to Jordan.  Stay tuned for that blog entry!