Day 3 (10/08/2011)   Jerusalem


  We will walk across Jerusalem’s Old City. Based on the information we get the previous day about what is closed at Yom Kippur we will leave the opened places for today.

   The “must-do” list for these two days is:

Jerusalem's Old City map

0- Lutheran Ghesthouse
1- Jaffa Gate, tower of David in citadel
2- Holy Sepulchre
3- Via Dolorosa
4- Damascus Gate
5- Notredamme (Holy Shroud exhibition)
6- Temple Mount
7- Zion Mount
8- Mount of olives

   We guess opened spots are going to be Christian ones. So this day we would visit: Via Dolorosa, Holy Sepulchre and Zion Mount. We will probably visit exhibition about Shroud of Turin in Notredamme as well.


   With all the sleep we got yesterday could be expected to be ready very early, but we don’t. We ended tired and we go out from hotel at 10:00.

   We take a new path across the only quarter we didn’t see yesterday: Armenian -which is also our quarter, where the hotel is sited – until Zion Gate. It’s a very quiet neighborhood, although being at Yom Kippur can make it look like this. We pass through stone streets, without losing the view of the wall in order to avoid missing the gate to Zion Mount. We can barely see other people in our walk and we’re enjoying this loneliness in such a place.

Armenian quarter en JerusalénArmenian quarter en Jerusalén

   We keep with the wall at our right, but Zion Gate is not appearing. I’m starting to think we’ve missed it somewhere before. The view of Mount of olives in front of us is a confirmation we are beyond the gate, but I don’t understand how. A bit later we can see the Dome of the Rock and we end in the same place than yesterday when leaving from Willing Wall. I don’t know what happened but now we must go out through Dung Gate and forget about our single visit on Zion Mount: Cenacle The idea now is taking the advantage of Yom Kippur has removed all vehicles from all the streets of the country to walk up to Mount of olives, and then down to Muralla Sur de la ciudad vieja de JerusalénLions’ Gate for beginning the Via Crucis.

   Somehow, at the moment of crossing the gate a get the offer from a taxi driver of taking us to the top of Mount of olives by 30 shekels. I ask him about driving in Yom Kippur day and he answers me he is Palestinian and hates all these Jewish customary. This way, we’re at the top, just in front of Church of the Ascension, in no time. In that church they charge 5 shekels per person for watching a small stone dome. The Pater Noster church is here too, but it is closed at this moment.

 Before that, the taxi driver, his friend, another man he introduced to us as his brother and I don’t know how many more people try to persuade me of taking us to Belem. I refuse all the offers and go down a little bit until a sort of terrace with the most famous views of this city. The TV reporters always come here to make their chronicle in front of this Old City panorama. We also can find our first camel here.

Camello en Monte de los OlivosVistas desde el Monte de los Olivos

   Sun is doing its job while we start our way down at the shadow side of a narrow road where cars keep passing by every when and then. We can tell Yom Kippur empty roads may be spectacular around the country, but no in and around Jerusalem’s Old City. This road has cemetery at our left and we can find some very steep slopes at some parts of it. We’ve been lucky of going up by car!. A typically Arabian dressed man announces “Mary’s taxi”. He is meaning his donkey with these words. He charges 5 shekels (1€) to us for one photo with my mother.

   We find Dominus Flevit entrance, but it is closed 12:15 to 14:00. It’s exactly 12:15h now, but we haven’t planned to visit it anyway. When we arrive to Maria Magdalene, the Russian orthodox church with its typical onion shaped domes on a very brilliant gold, an orthodox nun makes comes to prevent the entrance to us and some other people. She tells it closes at 12:00h all days.

Cementerio judío en el Monte de los OlivosIglesia de María Magdalena

   Once down from the Mount, we have three spots we would like to visit: Gethsemane garden and church and Mary’s tomb, all three are closed 12:15 to 14:00. As it is 12:30 now we decide to going on with our route: returning to Old City through Lions’ Gate and follow Via Dolorosa until Holy Sepulchre, lunching somewhere in our way. We will look for coming here after visiting Christ tomb, which is a with more priority.

Iglesia de GetsemaníPuerta de los leones

   Lions’ Gate is up after a steep slope and once crossing it there is no place to lunch or a terrace for resting taking something, which is what our body is asking to do. So, we go on the street until reaching flagellation and condemnation churches, which are together in the place where Jesus Christ was whipped and condemned and correspond to Stations of the Cross 1 and 2 of its total of 14 stations. This is the place when is supposed to be sited Pontius Pilate palace. They’re not big churches as the ones we use to know, but small chapels in honor of the relevant facts of the last day of that religious icon Jesus of Nazareth has become. At this moment, we find a priest going out from the first church with his entourage of singers and percussionists and followed by around thirty persons. This must be Via Crucis.

Iglesia de la CondenaciónPrisión de Jesús

   This street is full of holy spots: before arriving to flagellation church we just saw a house announced as St. Mary’s birth place. And now, after the first two Stations of the Cross we can see, at our right, the place where Pontius Pilate pronounced his words “Ecce Homo” and, at left, the prison of Christ. It doesn’t seem to be allowed to enter in such places, though.

   Via Dolorosa is not a straight street, it is doing zigzag across muslim quarter until it reaches Christian quarter instead. At the end of the first straight part of it we find finally a restaurant. It’s full of people but we go inside without any second thoughts. We take some lemon with mint drinks and they bring a lunch similar to yesterday’s one, with all the dishes in the middle, it’s just, this time, we’ve gone for the lamb ribs instead of those kebab chicken. The ribs are a little more expensive (75 NIS per plate). We pay 300 shekels for the whole lunch.

   Only when going out from the restaurant I notice the one we lunched yesterday is in front of us and it is, also, the fourth Station of the Cross!. The third is just at its left. We go into both of them, giving our greetings to the people of the restaurant, who remember us perfectly.

3ª estación del Via Crucis4ª estación del Via Crucis

  &nbspThe next stations, except for the last five which are inside Holy Sepulchre church, are in the middle of this bazaar maze these streets really are. After walking the whole Old City we can say it is more like a Moroccan market where its streets has no centimeters free of objects to sell from one store. Here are the pictures of stations 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

5ª estación del Via Crucis9ª estación del Via Crucis6ª estación del Via Crucis

7ª estación del Via Crucis8ª estación del Via Crucis

   For ninth Station of the Cross we must go up a stairs until the roofs, upon the bazaar and we have the chance of visiting the coptic patriarchate. Copts are African Christian people and we could add a new priest uniform at our long list here.

   The way to Holy Sepulchre is signed, but in the middle of all the stores is not difficult to lose the trace.

   Church entrance is full of people and once inside the first thing we meet is the flat stone where Jesus corpse is supposedly was put to lay in the first place after the cross. This church is sited in Golgotha – supposedly, again – where the cross was set by the romans and it was a hill before know as Calvary as well. Or maybe it is still a hill as we could noticed our way up lately in the streets driving us to here.

Reliquia en la Iglesia del Santo SepulcroIglesia del Santo Sepulcro

   There is a long queue to enter to the Holy Sepulchre itself, where only can be three persons at once. There are some people crying in front of the sepulcher as well and, here and there, we can find a procession of Armenian priests singing continuously who stops in a specific place for a while locking the access. They came when we are just in front of the sepulchre and they stops at the entrance when we want to exit from the church, making us waiting for they to move somewhere else. The first video shows Holy Sepulchre entrance, with its endless queue. The second video shows what is inside.

   We’re short of time for recovering the missing visits in Mount of Olives. The idea is going to Jaffa Gate, which is the closest gate, and there is a taxi stop there, and taking one to Gethsemane. But what we find is Yom Kippur: car access is closed on this gate and we cannot see any vehicle around. Out of the Gate, streets look deserted and even the traffic lights are off. We came back to the hotel resigned to ending our visits at this point. We only go out from it for some falafels before getting ready for leaving early tomorrow morning. We must be at bus station at 8:30 to go to the northern border to Jordan, called Shuk Hussein or Jordan Valley border.