From the lofty Mount Olives we take in the breathtaking view over the city of Jerusalem, from here we can see beyond the Old City walls and into the Temple Mount where the holy Jewish Temple stood until 70AD and where the Dome of the Rock stands today. On our drive towards the Old City we pass through the Kidron Valley and see the Garden of Gethsemane and Church of All Nations. Also in the valley are the three ancient Jewish burial tombs of Absalom, Benei Hazir and Zechariah.
We arrive at the Old City and enter through the Zion Gate into the Armenian Quarter. Our route takes us to the Byzantine Cardo, once a major thoroughfare. The Cardo has been partially restored and renovated so that there is now a section where modern stores do business where Crusader stores once stood. Other areas of the Cardo are still being excavated and we can look down at the Cardo in various stages of excavation and restoration.
We continue on through the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall (Kotel), this is the holiest Jewish site in the world and once formed part of the outer walls of the Second Temple which stood on Temple Mount. Today Jews come from across the globe to prey here and place prayer notes between the huge stones that form the wall.
Next we follow the route Jesus took through the Old City as he carried his cross towards Golgotha and his crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, runs from the Lion’s Gate where Jesus was sentenced to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which stands where Jesus was crucified. Along the Via Dolorosa we stop at several of the 14 Stations of the Cross, these are places along the route where Jesus paused to talk to people or where he stumbled and fell under the cross that he carried.
We reach the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and here you can wander in the ornate and cavernous church which is shared by four Christian denominations. This is where you’ll find Jesus’ burial tomb, beautiful liturgical art work and individual alters. We visit the Old City markets in the Christian and Muslim Quarters before leaving the City of Gold and making our way south of Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea.
Our journey takes us through the Judean Desert where we can see Sea level landmark and Jericho, a Biblical city believed to be the oldest continuously occupied city on the planet. We reach the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth at approximately 400 meters below sea level. Here you can swim in the highly saline water which prevents you from sinking; lather the mineral rich Dead Sea mud on your body and enjoy nature’s natural spa.