Walking Tour of Jerusalem, Israel
This city, in the fairly young country of Israel (established in 1948), is one of the most important spiritual destinations in the world. Three of the world’s greatest religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, claim ownership of the holiest parts of the Old City. The walled, city center is a fascinating place to explore.
My walk begins at the Damascus Gate, one of the primary entryways into the Old City. It is located to the northwest, near the junction of the Christian and Muslim Quarters. Walk straight ahead on El-Wad Road, which ends at the Western Wall Plaza, the only place where non-Muslims can gain entrance to the Temple Mount. Before entering the Mount, spend some time at the Western Wall, saying prayers yourself or observing others — this is the most important shrine in the world, for Jews.
Now enter the Temple Mount complex. Even if you are not permitted inside the Dome of the Rock or the El-Aqsa Mosque, you should wander around and explore the area, taking pictures, etc. This sacred place is controlled by Muslims and visits are carefully monitored.
When you leave the area, pass through the Gate of the Chain and walk west on Street of the Chain, and then turn left on Jewish Quarter Road. On your right, below street level, is the Cardo Maximus, the remains of a Roman thoroughfare.
Turn right on Or Hayim Road and then turn left on Ararat and then right onto St James Road. Now turn left on Armenian Patriarchate Road to visit the impressive St James Cathedral, on your left (enter through the Armenian Orthodox Monastery). Leave the area by turning right on Armenian Patriarchate Road, past the Citadel, to David Street. Turn right here and then left on Christian Quarter Road to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, operated jointly by the six oldest Christian sects. The church reputedly sits above the tomb where Jesus Christ was buried following his crucifixion. Wander around the complex to truly appreciate this holiest of sites.
Exit and turn right, and then right again, on St Francis Road which becomes the Via Dolorosa. (Christians may want to return later to walk this route which Jesus walked, carrying his cross, to Golgotha, the hill where the crucifixion took place). For now, follow this route (a reversal of the way that Christ walked to his death) to its end, at the Monastery of the Flagellation, where Christ was whipped and crowned with a ring of thorns.
To extend the walk, continue east on what is now Al-mujahideen Road to the Lion’s Gate and out of the walled city. At Jericho Road, turn right to reach the Mount of Olives, the Tomb of the Virgin, and the Garden of Gethsemane. The view of the city from the Mount of Olives Observation Point is stunning. Now, return to the monastery by retracing your steps.
From the Monastery of the Flagellation, walk back along the Via Dolorosa, and then turn right onto El-Wad Road to return to the Damascus Gate and the walk’s origin.