Thursday, January 20, 2011

Descent from the Mount of Olives & the Garden of Gethsemane

After walking visiting several famous religious sites on the top of the Mount of Olives, we followed a narrow road that wound down the mountain toward the Old City of Jerusalem.  

We had a great time exploring the Mount our Italian friends from the Capital Hotel, Monica and Luciano.  They spoke a little English and could understand my Spanish well so we could talk just fine.  Jeff and Luciano had their guide books and maps out comparing notes and figuring out where the next stop from the Bible was.  

One of the things I liked best about our vacation was that we had a rough idea of places we wanted to go and sites to see when we got there, but we never did any guided tour so we were always free to make friends, share a ride with them and then share half the day exploring together.  We did this several times over the week.  It's something I love about travelling.  You meet people, maybe spend the whole day with them, and you may never see them again, but the day is great.  There's a real aliveness to living in the now and creating nice memories with others who share the now with you.  
Descent from the Mount of Olives. 

As we hiked down the mountain, we came across a garden with a chapel, so we went in.  This chapel, known as the Chapel of Dominus Flevit, is run by Franciscan monks.  It's built at the site where Jesus supposedly wept about Jerusalem.  It was built in 1955 and is shaped like a teardrop supposedly to commemorate his weeping.
Luciano's guide book wrote about an interesting part of this chapel.  If you stand facing the altar and this beautiful window overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, the cross is right on the site of the Dome of the Rock, which was also the site of the Jewish temple that was destroyed by the Romans.  You can see the positioning intersecting with the gold dome really well in the bottom photo.

Cameron with Monica and Luciano.

Photo of a Russian Orthodox Church.
View through one of the windows in the wall flanking the path coming down from the Mount of Olives.
On the Southeast slope of the Mount of Olives is the tomb of Lazarus, who Jesus is said to have brought back from the dead.  
Monica posing with a man who earns a living by coming to stand with his donkey for photos on the main tourist path coming down from the Mount of Olives.  Monica gave him 5 shekels, a generous tip of $1.50.
We came to the Garden of Gethsemane by it was closed for lunch.  I found a couple photos of it online (see below).  The Garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus prayed with James, Peter & John but they fell asleep three times.  This is also where Peter denied three times that he knew Jesus.   Later that night, Judas came to the Garden with the soldiers and identified Jesus to them by kissing Jesus as a prearranged signal.   The soldiers arrested him.  Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate who sentenced him to death after a trial that ended at dawn the next day.  He was crucified that next day at 3pm.  One of the charges he was found to have committed was blasphemy (i.e., saying that he was the Messiah when they did not believe this was true.)

If you'd like to see a chronology of what happened with Jesus when he died, here's a link that explains it:

If you'd like to read more about this, you can visit this link:
I took this photo from the walls of the Old City.
The Church of Nations is visible here with the Garden of Gethsemane directly behind it.

Photo from this link:

Photo from

Next to the Garden of Gethsemane is a the Church of All Nations.  Below is a photo I took of the exterior of the church.  It was closed when we arrived but I found a photo online that shows the interior (below).  The Church has a large stone slab in it that is said to be the rock that Jesus sat on in the Garden to pray in agony on the night of his betrayal.  

Interior of the Church of the Nations, found online at the University of the Holy Land website.
View of Mount Olive from the bottom of the mountain,
near the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem.
View of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem
showing the ongoing excavation to find
and expose more of the original wall.
We walked about two miles down from the Mount of Olives and over to the Dung Gate to visit the Dome of the Rock (see later blog entry).  

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