A Travellerspoint blog

Journey through the Holy Land

Jerusalem and Bethlehem

semi-overcast 75 °F

Today we started the most spiritual portion of our Journey.

We started at the Garden Tomb.
The Garden Tomb is a rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem, which was unearthed in 1867 and is considered by some Protestants to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. The tomb has been dated by Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay to the 8th–7th centuries BC. The re-use of old tombs was not an uncommon practice in ancient times, but this would seem to contradict the biblical text that speaks of a new, not reused, tomb made for himself by Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57–60, John 19:41). Also, the trough in front of the tomb and the nearby cistern, described by proponents of the Garden Tomb as part of the tomb's sealing system and as the surrounding garden's source of water, respectively, have both been archaeologically dated to the Crusader period (12th–13th centuries). The organisation maintaining the Garden Tomb refrains from claiming that this is the authentic tomb of Jesus, while pointing out the similarities with the site described in the Bible, and the fact that the Garden Tomb better preserves its ancient outlook than the more traditional, but architecturally altered and time-damaged tomb from the mostly crowded Church of the Holy Sepulchre; for all of these reasons, they suggest that the Garden Tomb is more evocative of the events described in the Gospels. The Garden Tomb is adjacent to a rocky escarpment which since the mid-nineteenth century has been proposed by some scholars to be Golgotha. It has since been known as Skull Hill or Gordon's Calvary.

large_P1001104.jpglarge_P1001110.jpglarge_P1001111.jpglarge_P1001113.jpglarge_P1001114.jpglarge_P1001117.jpglarge_P1001115.jpglarge_P1001121.jpg

We then went to the birth place of John the Baptist. The Church of Saint John the Baptist is a Catholic church in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, that belongs to the Franciscan order. It was built at the site where Saint John the Baptist is believed to have been born. In 1941–42 the Franciscans excavated the area west of the church and monastery. Here they discovered graves, rock-cut chambers, wine presses and small chapels with mosaic tiling. The southern rock-cut chamber contained ceramic datable to a period stretching from approximately the first century BC till 70 AD, an interval that includes the presumed lifetime of Zechariah, Elizabeth and John. The community living here has been dated by the archaeological findings back to the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods. Unfortunately the church was not active as it was undergoing restoration.

large_P1001123.jpglarge_P1001126.jpglarge_P1001129.jpglarge_P1001134.jpglarge_P1001136.jpglarge_P1001137.jpg

We then headed to the Church of the Visitation which is a Catholic church in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, and honors the visit paid by the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39–56). This is the site where tradition says that Mary recited her song of praise, the Magnificat, one of the most ancient Marian hymns. From the Crusader conquest of the Holy Land onwards, three different locations in Ein Karem became connected with the life of St John the Baptist and turned into points of interest for pilgrims: a cave within the village, a site on a hill south of it, and the village's main water fountain. The events connected to the sites are the meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, the home of Zachary and Elizabeth, the birth of John, and the hiding place of Elizabeth and John. The Crusaders erected two main churches in Ein Karem, the precursors of what are today the Church of St John the Baptist and the Church of the Visitation.

large_P1001149.jpglarge_P1001154.jpglarge_P1001157.jpglarge_P1001158.jpglarge_P1001163.jpg

We then entered the Palestinian Territory on the West Bank and Bethlehem - currently 40% Christian. After lunch we entered the Church of the Nativity. The Church of the Nativity, or Basilica of the Nativity, is a basilica located in Bethlehem in the West Bank, Palestine. The grotto it contains holds a prominent religious significance to Christians of various denominations as the birthplace of Jesus. The grotto is the oldest site continuously used as a place of worship in Christianity, and the basilica is the oldest major church in the Holy Land. The church was originally commissioned by Constantine the Great a short time after his mother Helena's visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 325–326, on the site that was traditionally considered to be the birthplace of Jesus. That original basilica was likely built between 330 and 333, being already mentioned in 333, and was dedicated on 31 May 339. It was probably destroyed by fire during the Samaritan revolts of the sixth century, possibly in 529, and a new basilica was built a number of years later by Byzantine Emperor Justinian (r. 527–565), who added a porch or narthex, and replaced the octagonal sanctuary with a cruciform transept complete with three apses, but largely preserved the original character of the building, with an atrium and a basilica consisting of a nave with four side aisles.

large_P1001172.jpglarge_P1001183.jpglarge_P1001187.jpg

The holiest place on earth for Christians:

large_P1001184.jpg

Posted by rpickett 15:36 Archived in Israel Tagged and jerusalem bethlehem Comments (0)

Journey through the Holy Land

Magdala, Mount of the Beatitudes, Peter Primacy and Capernaum.

sunny 80 °F

We had a busy morning touring the important sites around the See of Galilee.
Our first stop was the first century synagogue of Magdala - home of Mary Magdaline. There is a beautiful church built in 2014 by Mexico, associated with the site.
Archaeological excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted in 2006 found that the settlement began during the Hellenistic period (between the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE) and ended during the late Roman period (3rd century CE). Later excavations in 2009–2013 brought perhaps the most important discovery in the site: an ancient synagogue, called the "Migdal Synagogue", dating from the Second Temple period. It is the oldest synagogue found in the Galilee, and one of the only synagogues from that period found in the entire country, as of the time of the excavation. They also found the Magdala stone, which has a seven-branched menorah symbol carved on it. It is the earliest menorah of that period to be discovered outside of Jerusalem. In 2021, another synagogue from the same period was discovered at Magdala. A collapse layer from the Second Temple period supported the narrative presented by Josephus regarding the Roman destruction of Magdala during the First Jewish–Roman War. Excavations show that after the destruction, during the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, the city moved slightly to the north.

large_P1001001.jpglarge_P1001076.jpglarge_P1001004.jpglarge_P1001010.jpglarge_P1001017.jpglarge_P1001019.jpglarge_P1001023.jpg

The next stop was a visit to the church on the Mount of the Beatitudes.
This site, very near Tabgha and also known as Mount Eremos, has been commemorated for more than 1600 years. Other suggested locations for the Jesus' Sermon on the Mount have included the nearby Mount Arbel, or even the Horns of Hattin. A Byzantine church was erected lower down the slope from the current site in the 4th century, and it was used until the 7th century. Remains of a cistern and a monastery are still visible. The current Roman Catholic Franciscan chapel was built in 1937-38 following plans by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi. Pope John Paul II celebrated a Mass at this site in March 2000. The Jesus Trail pilgrimage route connects the Mount to other sites traditionally associated with the life of Jesus.

large_P1001029.jpglarge_P1001040.jpglarge_P1001034.jpglarge_P1001033.jpglarge_P1001041.jpg

Nest was the Church of Peter Primacy. The Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter is a Franciscan church located in Tabgha, Israel, on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It commemorates, and allegedly marks the spot, of Jesus' reinstatement of Peter as chief among the Apostles. The modern structure was built in 1933 and incorporates parts of an earlier 4th century church. At the base of its walls, opposite the main altar, foundations of the 4th century church are visible. In the 9th century, the church was referred to as the Place of the Coals. This name refers to the incident of Jesus' preparation of meal for the apostles, building a charcoal fire on which to cook the fish. Also first mentioned in the year 808 are the "Twelve Thrones", a series of heart shaped stones, which were placed along the shore to commemorate the Twelve Apostles. The church survived longer than any other in the area, finally being destroyed in 1263. The present Franciscan chapel was built on the site in 1933. The church contains a projection of limestone rock in front of the present altar which is venerated as a "Mensa Christi", Latin for table of Christ. According to tradition this is the spot where Jesus is said to have laid out a breakfast of bread and fish for the Apostles, and told Peter to "Feed my sheep" after the miraculous catch, the third time he appeared to them after his resurrection.

large_P1001050.jpglarge_P1001052.jpglarge_P1001054.jpg

The final stop before entering Palestine on the way to Jerusalem and lunch near Jericho was Capernaum. It was a fishing village established during the time of the Hasmoneans, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1500. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is believed to have been the home of Saint Peter. The village was inhabited continuously from the second century BC to the 11th century AD, when it was abandoned sometime before the First Crusade.

large_P1001062.jpglarge_P1001063.jpglarge_P1001066.jpglarge_P1001069.jpglarge_P1001074.jpg

Finally we arrived in Jerusalem where we will be for 5 nights exploring the area and the old city.

large_P1001097.jpg

Posted by rpickett 15:29 Archived in Israel Tagged of see galilee Comments (0)

Journey through the Holy Land

Nazarerth, Cana and the See of Galilee

sunny 82 °F

We left the hotel again just before 8:00am and headed to Nazareth to visit the Church of the Annunciation.

It was established over what Catholic tradition holds to be the site of the house of the Virgin Mary, and where the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced that she would conceive and bear the Son of God, Jesus – an event known as the Annunciation.[1] Christian tradition has held that a structure was commissioned by Emperor Constantine I, whose mother, Saint Helena, helped to found churches commemorating important events in Jesus Christ's life. The Church of the Annunciation was founded around the same time as the Church of the Nativity (the birthplace) and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the tomb). Some version of it was known to have still been in existence around 570 AD. The old church was completely demolished in 1954 to allow for the construction of a new basilica. Pope Paul VI celebrated Mass in the new church during his trip to the Holy Land in 1964 The basilica was completed in 1969. Used by the Latin parish, it remains under the control of the Franciscans. It is the largest Christian Church building or sanctuary in the Middle East under the supervision of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

large_P1000885.jpglarge_P1000889.jpglarge_P1000895.jpglarge_P1000905.jpglarge_P1000913.jpglarge_P1000916.jpglarge_P1000918.jpg

We then went to Cana to visit the Wedding Church.
It is dedicated to the weddings of Christianity. Its name commemorates the event of the Wedding at Cana from the Gospel of John, thought by some Christians to have taken place on the site, during which Jesus performed his first miracle, by turning water into wine at the request or behest of Mother Mary. The Church is owned by the Custody of the Holy Land, part of the Franciscan order in the Catholic Church.[6] The current church was built circa 1881, and expanded from 1897-1905, following efforts by the Franciscans to acquire the site between 1641 and 1879, when acquisition was completed.[6] Twentieth-century archaeological excavations indicated that, before the current church building, the site housed a Jewish synagogue in the fourth and fifth centuries, and tombs under the rule of the Byzantine Empire in the fifth and sixth centuries.

large_P1000927.jpglarge_P1000932.jpg

We then went back to the See of Galilee to visit the Church of the Magnification.
large_P1000945.jpg

We then took a boat ride on the See.
large_P1000959.jpg

We ended the day at a Baptismal site on the Jordan River near where it runs out of the See of Galilee. The water in river where Jesus was baptized is very polluted and not fit to visit.

large_P1000973.jpglarge_P1000980.jpglarge_P1000981.jpglarge_P1000989.jpg

Posted by rpickett 15:38 Archived in Israel Tagged of see cana galilee nazareth Comments (0)

Journey through the Holy Land

Tel Aviv to the Sea of Galilee

sunny 81 °F

We started off the morning at 8:00am boarding the bus for a quick trip to the ancient port of Jaffa. Jaffa, in Hebrew Yafo and in Arabic Yafa and also called Japho or Joppa, the southern and oldest part of Tel Aviv-Yafo, is an ancient port city in Israel. Jaffa is known for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter as well as the mythological story of Andromeda and Perseus, and later for its oranges.

large_P1000777.jpg

We then traveled to the Roman et. al. ruins of Caesarea. The ancient city of Caesarea Maritima was built by Herod the Great about 25–13 BCE as a major port. It served as an administrative center of the province of Judaea (later named Syria Palaestina) in the Roman Empire, and later as the capital of the Byzantine province of Palaestina Prima. During the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, it was the last city of the Holy Land to fall to the Arabs. The city degraded to a small village after the provincial capital was moved from here to Ramla and had an Arab majority until Crusader conquest. Under the Crusaders it became once again a major port and a fortified city.

large_P1000786.jpglarge_P1000787.jpglarge_P1000797.jpglarge_P1000798.jpglarge_P1000805.jpglarge_P1000806.jpglarge_P1000817.jpglarge_P1000823.jpglarge_P1000826.jpglarge_P1000834.jpg

From there we went to the Druze town on Mount Carmel for lunch and then a visit to a Carmelite church on Mount Carmel. Druze are an Arabic-speaking esoteric ethnoreligious group from Western Asia who adhere to a religious faith that originally developed out of Isma'ilism, a branch of Shia Islam, although they do not identify as Muslims. They practice Druzism, an Abrahamic, monotheistic, syncretic, and ethnic religion based on the teachings of Hamza ibn Ali ibn Ahmad and ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Zeno of Citium. Adherents of the Druze religion are called The People of Monotheism.

The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, known as the Carmelites or sometimes by synecdoche known simply as Carmel, is a Roman Catholic mendicant religious order for men and women. Historical records about its origin remain uncertain, but it was probably founded in the 12th century on Mount Carmel in the Crusader States. Berthold of Calabria, as well as Albert of Vercelli have traditionally been associated with the founding of the order, but few clear records of early Carmelite history have survived. The order of Carmelite nuns was formalised in 1452.

large_P1000843.jpglarge_P1000846.jpglarge_P1000854.jpg

Our last stop of the day was at the Tel Magiddo. Megiddo was important in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass on the most important trade route of the ancient Fertile Crescent, linking Egypt with Mesopotamia and Asia Minor and known today as Via Maris. Because of its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several battles. It was inhabited approximately from 5000 to 350 BCE. or even, as Megiddo Expedition archaeologists suggest, since around 7000 BCE. There are approximately 35 different layers of city on the site.

large_P1000864.jpglarge_P1000870.jpglarge_P1000873.jpglarge_P1000876.jpg

Posted by rpickett 15:44 Archived in Israel Tagged seaward Comments (2)

Journey through the Holy Land

Tel Aviv

sunny 80 °F

After an 11 hour flight from Chicago and seven time zones from the east coast, one of my college room mates and I arrived in Tel Aviv at sunset at the end of Shabbat. As is usual we arrived a day early to get some rest before we start the actual tour with Globus on Tuesday.

The city was founded in 1909 by the Yishuv (Jewish residents) as a modern housing estate on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa, then part of the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem within the Ottoman Empire. It was at first called 'Ahuzat Bayit' (lit. "House Estate" or "Homestead"),the name of the association which established the neighbourhood. Its name was changed the following year to 'Tel Aviv', after the biblical name Tel Abib adopted by Nahum Sokolow as the title for his Hebrew translation of Theodor Herzl's 1902 novel Altneuland ("Old New Land"). Other Jewish suburbs of Jaffa established before Tel Aviv eventually became part of Tel Aviv, the oldest among them being Neve Tzedek (est. 1886). Tel Aviv was given "township" status within the Jaffa Municipality in 1921, and became independent from Jaffa in 1934. After the 1947–1949 Palestine war Tel Aviv began the municipal annexation of parts of Jaffa, fully unified with Jaffa under the name "Tel Aviv" in April 1950, and was renamed to "Tel Aviv-Yafo" in August 1950.

After a good buffet breakfast we decided to head out for some sightseeing. I had scheduled a tour with a 'local host' for the afternoon, but it ended up being cancelled.

The first stop was the Clock Tower, Old Jaffa, then a walk to Nene Tzedek for lunch, and then to the Carmel Market which was closed for the most part because of the holiday of Simchat Torah.

The clock tower was built in 1901 in the center of Jaffa's town square. The clock tower in Jaffa is one of seven clock towers built in Israel and of the hundred clock towers built in the Ottoman Empire in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the reign of the Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid the Second.

Tonight we meet up with our tour guide and the rest of our group for a brief and then dinner.

large_468cbff0-4e21-11ed-8203-5de7688342e2.jpglarge_P1000754.jpglarge_P1000758.jpglarge_P1000759.jpglarge_P1000760.jpglarge_P1000763.jpglarge_P1000764.jpg

Posted by rpickett 13:44 Archived in Israel Tagged tel aviv Comments (1)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 394) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »