The Holy Land

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Israel

The walled Holy City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock at center, as seen from the Mount of Olives.

The walled Holy City, or Old City, of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock at center, as seen from the Mount of Olives.  The Old City of Jerusalem is home to nearly 40,000 Muslims, Christians, Armenians, and Jews in just .35 square miles making it very much an active, living, and densely populated city to this day.

One of the great benefits to my time in Egypt was the opportunity to visit Jerusalem, the Old City, and surrounding sites on two different occasions.  In my attempts to try to describe these trips, the best way I have been able to summarize the experience is “surreal.”  Regardless of your religious inclinations, the historical significance of specific locations, as well as the general area, simply cannot be denied and seeing places that hold such importance for so many people across the globe was down right fascinating.  In terms of geopolitics now, the area as a whole still very clearly affects the entire world on a daily basis and I am incredibly grateful for such a profound cultural experience.

I highly recommend to anyone, especially those with deep religious roots, making a trip to Jerusalem if ever given the opportunity and the circumstances allow it.  The people of Jerusalem are very friendly and the area is very accommodating towards English-speaking tourists, Americans in particular.  Among the places we visited were the walled Holy City, including the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, the Mount of Beatitudes, the Sea of Gallilee, Capernaum, Nazareth, from which Mary and Joseph both hailed, and the Jordan River baptismal site.  While I would have loved to go in-depth about the historical significance of every place we visited, I quickly realized that would take a number of days and far too many posts to fully do everything justice.  Instead, I have decided to share a few pictures and let those tell the tale.

One of the many narrow walkways within the walled Holy City.

One of the many narrow walkways within the Old City.

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Walking the streets of the Holy City.

The Wailing Wall with the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock just behind.

The Wailing Wall, or Western Wall, with the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock just behind.

The Wailing Wall -- the picture was taken at a distance due to the fact that electronic devices are not permitted in the worship area during Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath which falls on a Saturday.

The Wailing Wall — the picture was taken at a distance due to the fact that electronic devices are not permitted in the worship area during Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath which falls on a Saturday.  The Wailing Wall is currently the holiest site in Judaism as it is the closest one can get to the original Temple and it’s inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies.

Walkway towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The walkway towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre -- built in the 4th century by Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, is believed by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition to be the site of Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion of Christ, and to contain the remnants of the tomb of Jesus.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre — built in the 4th century by Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, it is believed by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition to be the site of Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion of Christ, and to contain the remnants of the final resting tomb of Jesus.

At the Stone of Anointing within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were, according to Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition, it is believed that Jesus was removed from the cross and prepared for burial.

At the Stone of Anointing within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where, according to Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition, it is believed that Jesus was removed from the cross and prepared for burial.  The artwork depicts that belief.

The end to a Catholic service held within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The end to a Catholic service held within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Aedicule within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre -- a small chapel believed by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition to contain the Angel Stone, a fragment of the stone that once sealed Jesus' tomb, and the final resting tomb itself.

The Aedicule within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — a small chapel believed by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition to contain the Angel Stone, a fragment of the stone that once sealed Jesus’ tomb, and the final resting tomb itself.

Vendors lining the narrow streets of the walled Holy City.

Vendors lining the narrow streets of the Old City.

A night view of the walled Holy City of Jerusalem from the outside.

A night view of the walled Holy City of Jerusalem from the outside.

The view of the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes where it is largely believed Jesus delivered his famed Sermon on the Mount.

The view of the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes where it is largely believed Jesus delivered his famed Sermon on the Mount.

Fishing boats and a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee.

Fishing boats and a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee.

The city of Tiberius as seen from a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee.

The city of Tiberius as seen from a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee.

The remains of a 4th century synagogue in Capernaum, largely believed to be the home town of Saint Peter and where Jesus likely spent most of his public ministry.  This synagogue is largely believed to be built upon the foundation of the original synagogue where Jesus possibly did most of his teaching.

The remains of a 4th century synagogue in Capernaum, largely believed to be the home town of Saint Peter and where Jesus likely spent most of his public ministry. According to tradition, this synagogue is built upon the foundation of the original synagogue where Jesus likley did most of his teaching.

The rotunda of the Church of the Annunciation built upon an ancient church and is the location, according to Roman Catholic tradition, of the home of Mary, mother of Jesus.

The rotunda of the Church of the Annunciation is built upon an ancient church and is the location, according to Roman Catholic tradition, of the home of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Inside the Church of the Annunciation with the Grotto of the Annunciation at left, which is believed by many to be the original childhood home of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Inside the Church of the Annunciation with the Grotto of the Annunciation at left, which is believed by many to be the original childhood home of Mary, mother of Jesus.

The Grotto of the Annunciation undergoing routine archaeological maintenance.

The Grotto of the Annunciation undergoing routine archaeological maintenance.

The Jordan river baptismal site, where it is largely believed John the Baptist conducted the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Jordan river baptismal site, where it is largely believed John the Baptist conducted the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth.

As I mentioned before, I feel incredibly blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to take such a meaningful trip while deployed.  Unfortunately there are many more pictures to compliment those above, but I wanted to touch on the highlights while sharing in my experiences as much as possible.

Experiences that are ones I will never forget.

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(Click picture for full size view.)

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