Teri's Travels - Israel...Holy Land - Day 3

by Teri E. Popp, Tastemaker in Residence

Our most ambitious day of travel in Israel occurred on our third day in the country (aside from the 16 hours it took to fly to Israel in the first place)!  We spent 12 hours touring the following sites:  the underground excavations of the Old City of Jerusalem; the 14 Stations of the Cross; the Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City; the Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum); and the Israel Museum.

In the underground excavations of the Old City of Jerusalem, we learned about the construction of the city, its aqueduct system, and the genesis of the Wailing Wall.  Israelis have been excavating under the Jewish Quarter since the 1960's hoping to learn more about the city's history and culture.

After learning about the building of Jerusalem, we returned to ground level and walked in the path of Jesus through the 14 Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. We traversed the route that Christ walked on his way to his crucifixion.  At each stop, we came to understand more about our faith and beliefs.

This part of the tour culminated at the Church of the Holy Sepluchre (also called the Church of the Resurrection). We knelt down to feel the spot where the cross was planted in the rock, and stood in cue to view Christ's tomb--4 people allowed in at a time.  It was an awe-inspiring journey.

To collect our thoughts and put perspective on the day, we stopped for a short interlude and coffee at a cafe in the Muslim Quarter.  The most populated area of the City, more than 22,000 residents live in this section.  We then toured the back streets and alleys of the Muslim Quarter to view the actual living areas and markets of the residents, featuring bakeries and butcher's markets.

And since I collect photos of doors, no tour is complete for me without an assortment of the Old City's finest collection!

After leaving the Old City for the last time, our guide drove us to visit the Yad Vashem.  Located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, this state-of-the-art complex, designed by Moshe Safdie, was completed in March of 2005.  Over one million visitors per year pass through it's doors, making it the second largest tourist attraction in Israel.  Culminating in the Hall of Names, the museum stands as a memorial to the 6 million Jews who died during World War 2.

Our final destination for the day was the Israel Museum.  While a guest could spend days viewing the various displays and archives of the museum, we went to see only two things.  First, a replica of the Old City of Jerusalem built to scale and located on the museum's grounds. It gives visitors an idea of what the city looked like shortly after Christ's death (ca. 60 AD). 

Second, and more importantly, we toured the facility housing the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Found in the Qumran Caves between 1946 and 1956, these 981 texts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Nabataeans include many of the books of the Old Testament of the Bible as well as other books of great historic significance.  It was a fitting end to our historic tour to Israel.