Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Holy Land or "Is there a vacancy at the Holy Family Hotel?"

I have always wanted to see the Holy Land or at least Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Fortunately I had read and seen enough video or TV footage of these areas that I was not disappointed. What I mean to say is that I was prepared for the heavy commercialization and the building of churches and shrines on top of the places where the crucifixion, birth and resurrection of Jesus supposedly took place. Putting all that aside, it was sobering to walk in the same area where Jesus walked.

Below is a photo of the wall around the old city. The closed gates are the Golden Gate. This wall is a wall constructed by the Muslims around the time of the Crusades, or shortly thereafter.

Below is what is thought to be the Garden of Gethsemane. These olive trees are at lest 900 years old, and reflect the agony Christ felt in the Garden.

One of the things you have to remember while you are in the Holy Land is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This wall and guard tower separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem and no Israeli is allowed into Bethlehem, according to the sign on the check point.

The tackiness, commercialism and triviality is almost overwhelming. The hotel and souvenir shop shown below are typical; they are about a block from the Church of the Nativity.

The Church of the Nativity is built over the place where by tradition Jesus was born.
The photo below is the entrance. There are three different churches represented by this door-the small current door, an arch above that and a straight lintel above that.

Below is a photo of a door in the church.

This is the room which allegedly held the original manger. The original manger is long gone; the one in the room is several centuries old.

This is one of the internal doors.

View of the old city from outside the wall.

I don't know to whom the shopkeeper expects to sell these dresses.

Don't these spices look inviting?

This baker has put his goods out on the street for your perusal.

Below is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the place where by tradition Jesus was crucified and buried.

This window is on the outside of the church. Notice the ladder. A century or two ago the different churches agreed, after major battling, to leave the church exactly as it was at the time of the agreement. The ladder was as you see it in the photograph; it has never been moved per the agreement.

Below is the external door to the church.

Plant growing out of the old city wall.

Shop in the Old Jerusalem bazaar.

Below is a gate in the old city wall.

We walked through an old quarter from the bazaar to the wailing wall. On the way we came upon this grandmother and two little girls.

The wailing wall, below, is the western retaining wall of the temple mount. Jews come to the wall and pray, often sounding as if they were wailing. They also place written prayers in cracks between the stones.

Below is a photograph of Jews at the wall, with an orthodox Jew approaching the wall.

Orthodox Jew returning from the wall.

This photograph looks as if this could be three generations returning from the wall-grandfather, father and son.

Bride on the plaza leading to the wailing wall.

The photograph below is of the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane is immediately to the left of the chapel part of the church at the base of the Mount.

This is a view from the top of the Mount of Olives. A cemetery is immediately in the foreground running down the Mt. almost to the bottom. The golden Dome of the Rock is on the opposite slope and sits on the Temple mount. The Garden of Gethsemane is next to the church at the bottom of the slope almost in the exact middle of the photograph. From the Mount of Olives, somewhere near from where this photograph was taken, Jesus stood and looking across at the Temple and Jerusalem, wept and prophesied their destruction.

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