Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The relics room inside the Church of Holy Sepulcher?

This room inside the chapel of Adam (just below Golgotha) was unnoticed during my previous visits to Jerusalem. At this trip to Jerusalem, I met a Russian Orthodox priest who was the care taker of the 'Tomb of Prophets' in Mt of Olives. He suggested me about a room inside the chapel of Adam, where ancient relics are kept and added that it is rarely opened. To my luck I found the room opened. Following are a few snaps from the room. At present, I don't know what the artifacts signify, but I assure you that the I will find the answer soon.

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Zion Gate

The gate leads to Mt Zion where you find the tomb of King David and the room of Last Supper. Also known as the “Gate of King David" and "the Gate of Jews", the current gate was built by the Turkish Sultan Suleiman Iben Salim in 1540. When I first visited Jerusalem (March, 2008), I couldn't see the gate as it was under renovation. You can still see the numerous bullet holes, a result of the Israeli-Arab war in May 1948. Hence, the gate is also referred as the "Wounded Gate".

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The famous Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Visiting Jerusalem Continued (19th September 2008)

Main attractions for this trip were ‘The Jerusalem Archaeological Park' and 'The City of David'. It takes volumes to write about these sites and hence it will be better to attach some online links to fetch you details in a more extensive and enjoyable way. One thing I can assure you: if you are in Jerusalem these are must places to visit and if you are an archaeology or bible lover, a single visit will make indelible impression on you. Yet I will try to add some brief details about these venues. Apart from these sites, I managed to visit the 'Tomb of King David' and the 'Grave of Oscar Schindler' (of Schindler's List fame); revisited the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu (especially to see the ancient path allegedely taken by Jesus to Gethsemane), the Last Supper Room and the Zion Gate; Had a birds-eye-view of 'Hill of Evil Counsel' (the place where the High Priest Caiphas decided to arrest Jesus) and the Aceldama (the land where Judas Iscariot hanged himself).

The schedule goes as follows:

5.30 am/Metropolin 60/Sede Boker

6.20 am/Egged 446/Beer Sheva

8.30 am/ Egged 1/ Jerusalem Central Bus station to City of David, Old City by 9.00 am.


1.30 pm took a taxi from Mount Zion

2.20 pm/Egged 446/Jerusalem Central Bus Station

4.00 pm/Metropolin 60/ Beer Sheva

Sede Boker at 4.45 pm.

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park or the Biblical Ophel

It is an amazing site that takes you to almost 5000 years of Jerusalem's history in an absorbing way. Those who knows the importance of the first (957-587 BC) and the second (515 BC-70 AD) Jerusalem temples can never avoid this site. Today, orthodox Jews expect construction of a third temple in Jerusalem with the arrival of the messiah! It would not be an exaggeration to say that if you erase ‘the Temple Mount’ from history, Jerusalem is just like any other ordinary city. All the holiness and quest for Jerusalem are one way or the other linked with the temple; may be the root cause of today's Middle-East conflict is also attached to this site !

This whole area located on the southern side of the temple mount was referred in the Bible as the "Ophel" (II Chronicles 27:3, 33:14, Nehemiah 3:26, 27, 11: 21 and Micah 4:8). The southern wall of the temple mount was fortified and built from Herod the Great (37 BC - 4BC). However, the magnificent temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, leaving most of Herod's second temple in rubble. Today, the whole area is under Jerusalem Archaeological Park and remains of the temple lie scattered abundantly inside the park.

After purchasing tickets, you can go to the Davidson Center to visit the exhibition rooms and watch a very interesting movie about The Jerusalem Temple. Inside the park, one can still touch the stones of the Temple that were pulled down by the Roman soldiers 2000 years ago; feel the southern wall of the Temple built by King Herod; climb the original steps to the Temple; look at the remains of mikveh (ritual baths) where pilgrims used to purify themselves before entering inside the Temple; stand beside remains of the ancient gates that once opened to the Temple; walk through the Herodian Path which Jesus might have walked, while purifying the Temple from the greedy merchants; stroll through the walls to have wonderful views towards Mt Olives, Kidron and Hinnom Valleys and the City of David.

Don't miss the official link to the park

The Southern Wall of Herod's Second Temple and Ophel Region

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

View to the Jewish Quarter from Ophel

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Remains of Jerusalem's Main Street to the Temple in Herod's time (1st cent BC)

Remains of this Herodian street, running about 1 km was once paved with flagstones. It had two drainage channels beneath and shops opening on both sides. You can still see a building with 4 shops on the 5P. The building was the base for staircase that allowed the visitors to climb up to the temple via Robinson's Arch (see below). The shops traded money and sold offerings for the visitors to the temple mount. Most probably these shops faced the wrath of Jesus 2000 years ago (Mark 11:15-18, John 2:13-16). Collapsed on the paved street are stones hurled down by Roman soldiers, left exactly as they fell after destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70.

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Robinson's Arch

This large stone protruding from the southern part of the Western Wall are actual remnants of an arch that led pilgrims to the Temple Mount 2000 years ago. It was the highest arch in the world that time and supported a great stairway that led to the Temple. It is named after the American researcher, Edward Robinson, who discovered it in 1838 .

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Ancient Hebrew inscription (biblical verse) on a stone in the wall of Jerusalem.

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