Postcard from Jerusalem – Walking in the Holy Lands

I had come on a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. A tour centred around two locations; namely Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee from where we were able to travel easily to the surrounding important biblical sites. The experience was everything and much more than I could have ever imagined, bringing the bible passages to life. Now at Easter time, I reflect on the amazing journey and the memories which continue to give me so much pleasure to this day. Whatever your reason to go to this part of the world – go you must, with so much fascinating history, geography, monuments, buildings, traditions, sights, sounds, tastes and smells to discover and enjoy.

One of my favourite walks during the entire trip was from Mount of Olives down into Jerusalem. At the start of the walk stands a church whose walls are panelled by ‘The lords Prayer’ in every known language. This walk is undertaken daily by many and especially on Palm Sunday with much fanfare, depicting Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. At the foot of the Mount of Olives, we stopped at the Garden of Gethsemane and The Church of All Nations, a beautiful church where I learnt that the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother is buried.

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is vibrant and like many a walled city it is steeped in history. The walled city is known as the Old City and is divided into four quarters; the Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim quarters. On my personal journey I did the ‘Stations of The Cross’ walk – Via Dolorosa, which is a route consisting of several streets ending at The Holy Sepulchre. There are nine stations along the way. Jesus walked here on Good Friday carrying the cross on the way to his crucifixion. He walked through the hustle and bustle of everyday life along the alleyways. To follow in his footsteps was an incredible moving experience for me. The Holy Sepulchre contained a further five stations.

There are many walkways within this walled atmospheric Old City, where you can loose yourself down winding passageways and enjoy the many markets. My particular favourites were the painted ceramic markets – stalls and stalls of endless crockery with vivid colours encircled with wonderful blue hues. Wherever you walk, there is the omnipresent scents of cooking and spices wafting everywhere.

Our final walk took us atop the walls of the Old City. The walls have been used as a defence since ancient times and during the Ottoman empire in the 16th Century, the city walls were rebuilt on the remains of the ancient walls. This walk gave us spectacular views of both inside the Old City, as well as far reaching views towards the Mount of Olives, from where our walks had started.