Passage through Antiquity A Voyage of Discovery - Israel
© Nova Fisher


Garden of Gethsemane asnd Church of All Nations

We moored at Ashdod, the largest port in Israel that accounts for 60% of the countries imported goods. It is home to the largest Moroccan Jewish and largest Karaite Jewish Communities in Israel, and the largest Georgian Jewish community in the world. We drove inland to Jerusalem stopping the Mount of Olives for spectacular views over the 'Golden City' of Jerusalem. We walked through the ancient Garden of Gethsemane (eight ancient olive trees of which some were 700 years old), where Jesus spent the last moments before his arrest and we visited the Basilica of Agony, built over the rock on which Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony the night before he was crucified. Built in 1924, it is also known as the Church of All Nations and is the third church on the site.
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Mount Zion

We walked around Mount Zion then visited the Tomb of David. According to the New Testament, Jesus is considered to be a descendant of King David’s dynasty. Due to King David’s significance to Islam and Judaism, many disputes arose around the entire compound, and it switched hands throughout history. Ladies and gents visit the tomb with a screen between them. Located on the upper floor is the Room of the Last Supper, also known as the Cenacle. The word “Cenacle” is derived from the Latin word for “dining room”, in memory of the festive Passover meal, which Jesus shared with his apostles on the eve of his death. The monastic church “the Dormition” is one of the most prominent churches in Jerusalem due to its size, beauty and location that overlooks the old city. In the Crypt, Maria’s statue lies at the centre, depicting her in her last sleep. According to the Christian tradition, Maria did not die as a common person. She fell asleep forever and ascended to the skies, where she rules the universe alongside her son Jesus. Above the laying statue there is a mosaic of Jesus, surrounded by female characters from the bible and the deuterocanonical books: Ruth, Judith, Yael, Miriam- sister of Moses, Eve and Queen Esther. Like Miriam, they were strong and influential women.

Western (or Wailing) Wall

We entered the old city through the Jaffa gate and stopped to see the Western (or Wailing) Wall, the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people. The wall is divided into two sections, one area for males and one for females. Built over 2,000 years ago, the wall is the only fragment of the Great Temple to survive the Roman destruction. Long before the Temple stood on the mount, Abraham came here to sacrifice his son, Isaac and also Jacob slept here, dreaming of a ladder to heaven.

Via Dolorosa and Church of the Holy Sepulchre

We then wandered through the streets of the Old City along the colourful bazaar and up the Via Dolorosa, where Pilgrims have retraced the steps of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for more than a thousand years. There are signs at the 14 Stations of the Cross that pay homage to the events during the torture, sentencing, carrying of the cross, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus of Nazareth. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the hill of Golgatha, is the site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The 500 year old, 12 inch key to this Christian holy church is held by a Muslim family and has been for centuries. The tomb from which he is said to have resurrected and exited is is the major attraction with queues of over an hour long to go inside the tomb for just a few seconds.