Old City of Jerusalem – Israel

Adult £100 / Child £95

Tour Every Saturday From Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab & Taba

Old Jerusalem the wailing wall ‘Western wall’, this is the holy of holiest for the Jews, only the  last rows at the base are from the original structure. You will stop here to have a chance to visit the wall, men on left women on right, you will see many pieces of paper in-between the stones, these are peoples prays you can leave your own if you wish. On top of the Western wall, this area is known as the temple mount, this is the site for the Muslims, houses the ‘Dome of the Rock’ and al Aqsa mosque this is the second most holy place for Muslims after Mecca. Most people confuse the golden dome of ‘the Dome of the Rock’ as the al Aqsa mosque but al Aqsa is actually the smaller silver coloured dome. Usually after the Western wall you walk part of the ‘Via Dolorosa’ ‘Way of the Suffering’, following Jesus footsteps as he walked to his death through the streets of Jerusalem. There are 14 stations of the cross each representing an event. station marks the site Jesus fell for the first time under the weight of the cross, another station  marks where Jesus said to the women of Jerusalem ‘do not weep for me weep for yourselves and your children’. Station where Veronica wiped Jesus face, site where Joseph of Arimathea, helped Jesus when he fell for a second time. Each station has it’s own church chapel marking the site often entry is restricted and open small hours. Old city of Jerusalem is surrounded by high defensive wall built over time to protect this city from invasion. There are several entrance gates to the old city, most famous ‘dung gate’ original entrance to western wall and first gate that was widened to accommodate traffic. Called ‘dung gate’ because it’s the gate  which originally the city’s rubbish was dumped out of. The ‘golden gate’ which Jesus entered into Jerusalem has been closed up since 6th century. Outside the old Jerusalem city is the famous ‘Mount of Olives’, today not many olive trees exist as it’s mostly a grave site of the rich Jews. At the foot of the mount if olives is the grave of Zachariah, famous for the site of the last supper. Mount olives commands a panoramic view of the old city of Jerusalem. Near this site is church of Mary Magdalene & Garden of  Gethsemane.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre – Old Jerusalem

For Christians this is the site of Death & Burial of Jesus. In the 4th century Helana, mother of Emperor Constantine, traveled to Palestine and identified the location of the crucifixion, her son built a magnificent church over the site. The church has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Te building standing today dates from the 12th century. Control is guarded by the different Christian denominations. The Greek orthodox. Roman Catholics. Armenians & Coptic. In the 12th century fighting amongst denominations over who should keep the key to the church, led Arab conquer Saladin to entrust the key to th e Muslim  Nuseibeh & Joudeh families. Today the key is still in the house of the Joudeh family. The door is opened at dawn & closed nightly at 8 pm. Arguments for years over opening a second door for safety and a fire in 1840 left many dead. Finally 2000 year celebrations worried Israel further to number of expected visitors., in July 1999 agreement to open an exit door – but only provoked argument as to whom should have this key. The church of the Holy Sepulchre houses the last 4 stations of the cross. Station 10 is where Jesus was stripped of his garments, located to the right of entrance doors to church of Holy Sepulchre in a room called chapel of franks small stairs lead up to the chapel (entrance is not allowed). Inside station 11 – Jesus is nailed to the cross, marked by Latin (Franciscan) altar on Calvary – place of the skull. Golgotha in Hebrew. Mosaic pictures before altar depicts the nailing on the cross. Station 12 – Jesus dies on the cross. Jesus is crucified and dies on the cross ending his agony. This site has Greek Orthodox crucifixion altar, a silver disk with a central hole, underneath the altar marked the spot where the cross stood. Silver icons of Virgin Mary & St. John are on either side. Above cross is a sign bearing the inscription INRI – Iesus Nazarenes rex judaeorium – Latin for Jesus Nazareth, king of the Jews. Before Jesus died he said father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:24).  Station 13 – Jesus is taken down from the cross. As per tradition, the body of Jesus was laid on a stone after removal from the cross (john 19:40) ‘then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices as the manner of the Jews is to bury’. The stone of anointing – Unction, above which lamps each one donated by one of the denominations (8 in total). Behind the stone a mosaic depicting Jesus taken down from cross, laid on the stone, clothed and anointed then carried to burial (cave) tomb. This stone of anointment many people bless here, kneeling down to kiss and touch the place Jesus was laid. Station 14 – Jesus is laid in the tomb. located in the round hall ‘rotunda’ . the tomb is inside the structure in the center. At the left side of the tomb is the everlasting flame. Inside the first chamber is called ‘ chapel of the angel’ behind the chapel is another narrow door – to an inner chamber – the tomb of Jesus, a marble lid covers the tomb. Around the back of the tomb is a small chapel you can touch the floor here under the altar. Directly behind this chapel is an archway leading to a Syrian chapel room, with a smoke blackened ceiling in here are two original stone tombs you can go in and look at size, this is what Jesus tomb was like with a round stone covering the entrance. Of course the church has built the elaborate tomb you see today over the original stone cave. The church has many other chapels inside , some underneath the rock of Calvary, you may not have time to see all.

Church of Nativity – Bethlehem Palestine

Again Helena, Constantine’s mother found the site of Jesus birth and her son built a church over this site.  Entrance to the church is today thru the door of humility, called so because you bend down to enter. You  can see outlined in stone 2 other doorways, larger in size. over the years of fighting control and ownership the doorway has been reduced in size to stop attackers entering on horseback. Once inside the church you are faced with an ornate altar at the far end, in front is a viewing point of the original byzantine mosaic floor dating back 3rd century. There are huge granite columns down both sides, depictions of the saints can be seen on them – date back to  crusader times 10th century. On the walls above the columns partial mosaics can be seen, at one time the entire interior was decorated this way. The roof of the church is made from British oak. To the right of altar is an archway doorway that leads to the Greek chapel and entrance to the cave where Jesus was born. There are many byzantine art depicting saints and Virgin Mary, as well as other donations given to the church over the centuries. most of us remember Christmas story of no room at the inn, but you can use the stable, in ancient Palestine stables for animals were carved from the rock face like caves, this was the safest way to stop animals being attacked. So this is why you enter a cave to Jesus birth site. On entering there are 2 silver pointed stars, the one on the right marks the very spot Jesus was born and one on left was where he was placed in the manger. Exiting the cave you walk to the roman catholic church which is right next door, it’s the church they televise Christmas mas s every year. at the entrance to the church is a statue of St. Jerome who translated the first bible to Latin. The church has chapel of the innocents; grave for the innocents killed by Harold when he ordered all boys under 2 years be killed, when he was trying to kill Jesus. after exciting the church you see s big carving depicting St. George and the dragon.

Usually after visiting the church you go to a local restaurant for lunch. Souvenir shopping is done in Bethlehem you find many products made from local olive tree wood, nativity scenes, iconic reproduction art an of course candles. Often guides are pushed for time to make sure you see everything in one day and for this reason no shopping in old city of Jerusalem souks only in Bethlehem.

Dead Sea

Included in this excursion is a stop at the Dead Sea, it will either be in the morning before Jerusalem or afternoon after Jerusalem. It is recommended to stay in the water no longer than 15-20 minutes in the water as it’s detoxifying effects can leave you feeling weak. Remember to shower after. To protect your skin if sensitive you should purchase Dead Sea mud to apply prior to entering the water. The Dead Sea is the lowest water point on earth, it’s below sea level and has high oxygen content in the air very therapeutic for asthma.

Need with you passport, water & breakfast box, comfortable shoes, sun glasses & hat, swimsuit & towel & shower gel or soap. To visit the churches and other holy sites clothes should cover shoulders and knee length for both men and women, in winter months warm clothing. Currency accepted in Israel US Dollar, Euro, GBP unfortunately no Egyptian money is accepted in Israel.

The programme includes

All transfers by coach, all entrance fees, border tax, lunch in a local restaurant, English speaking guide in Jerusalem & Bethlehem.

The programme excludes

Drinks in the restaurant, tipping, any other personal expenses.

 

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