Today started off with a short coach ride, then it was all on foot afterwards. The coach took us up the Mount of Olives where we were able to take in a superb view of Jerusalem, which the panoramic shot above hopefully coveys a little of. The viewpoint was full of tourists like myself marvelling at the view and taking selfies, but its worth remembering that when Jesus stood on this Mount and looked on the city, He wept for it.
From here we walked down the hill and found our way to the Garden of Gethsemane. The garden is the tradition site of the place where Jesus was arrested. These days you can walk around it, but the garden is carefully fenced off from the public.
From here we made our way to the pool of Bethesda which most famously was the place where Jesus healed a paralysed man who couldn't access the pool when the waters stirred. He had no one to help him get there, and all the other people looking for healing got in there first. The pool is a Roman bath with waters that have healing properties. But the water would be stagnant most of the time, except when the waters were stirred, then the 'good' water with its healing properties would rise to the surface (it was 13 metres deep).
Next was the Antonia Fortress, where Pilate had Jesus flogged. We went down into the cellar area where the soldiers would have been when they taunted Jesus.
On the floor was a kind of game board carved out of the rock. Maybe the soldiers could have cast lots using a carving like this?
After this we followed the Via Delorosa - that is the route that Jesus is believed to have followed as He carried His cross. This led us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is the other site that claims to be the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. It is much more popular than the Garden Tomb that we visited yesterday, has been there much longer (the garden tomb site began being excavated in the 19th century, whereas the church was established in 325BC) and much more religious.
The entrance of the church contains a slab of stone which is said to be the place where Jesus's body was prepared for burial. While we were there many people knelt and kissed the stone.
The church also contains an altar which is said to be Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and then down beneath the church you can visit the tomb. Praise God that we worship a saviour who is not limited to buildings and who can be worshipped anywhere.
After this we went to get some lunch. We had falafals which were very yummy! Then we had the afternoon free!