Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sam in the (Old) City

My family outside of the Old City, with the Tower of David behind them.
The Old City of Jerusalem has been too chaotic for Samuel in the past.  We have always figured that with his Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) he would find the crowds, the chaos, and the smells to much.  We have taken him to Bethlehem, Shepherds Field, Nazareth, elsewhere in Galilee, Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb, but never the Old City itself.

Still, we did not want to be here a whole year and not give Sam Man the experience of being in the Old City, especially since the day may come when sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre may mean more to him.  So we prepped him, talking to him for a couple of days about our plans and then drove down and parked at the Mamilla Shopping Center, right across from Jaffa Gate where we could get in and out of the Old City as easily as possible.

In front of Jaffa Gate

Samuel and dad at the Tower of David

"I've never been in this old town before!"

Everything went well until towards the end, when Samuel tired of climbing the steps of many of the narrow "ascents" in the Old City . . . which meant that on several occasions I got my "hundred pound backpack."  But except for those times when he insisted on being carried, he was a good sport.  We entered Jaffa Gate, got pictures there and at the Citadel of David and then took more pictures in the streets and shops of the Old City.  

Samuel then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where he was interested in several of the altars with their candles and with the painting of Christ Pantocrator in the little dome over the Catholicon.  I was glad to show him the Rock of Golgotha, the probable spot of the crucifixion, though Skull Hill at the Garden Tomb still provides a better setting to imagine that event and the following resurrection.

With my children in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The stone structure to the right of the mural covers the Rock of Golgotha.  The Latin and Greek altars are on top, the Chapel of Adam in a room below.
But in a quiet side aisle, a large window reveals part of the rocky outcropping, which may well be where our Lord died for us on the cross.  I will always treasure this picture of my children here, just like I do the pictures of them at the Garden Tomb.

To Sam Man, going down to the Chapel of St. Helen and farther down to the Chapel of the Invention (discovery) of the Cross was an adventure, kind of like going in secret passageways!
One of the small, side altars, but Samuel loved it and its candles

Samuel in front of the aedicule or shrine of the Tomb of Christ

"Look up there!" said Samuel . . .
. . . pointing to the mosaic of Christ Pantocrator

Samuel and Rachel in the Catholicon, or Greek Orthodox main worship area

We took a break after that, sitting down at a small cafe in the Muristan to enjoy lunch and the surprisingly pleasant weather (even a bit of cloud cover today!).

Rachel's last falafel

Dad got kabobs, but all Samuel wanted was fries and ice cream.
After that we went to the roof of the Austrian Hospice to get pictures of well-known landmarks.  After looking around at the roofs all around us, Samuel commented, "This is a really old town."

My family on the Via Dolorosa

With the children in front of the Fifth Station of the Cross, the traditional place where the cross was placed on Simon of Cyrene
Rachel and Samuel with the Mount of Olives and the Dome of the Rock in the background
Elaine and I with Church of the Redeemer and Holy Sepulchre behind us

Rachel and the flag of the Jerusalem Cross.

Street scenes with Ramadan lights

Walking back through the Christian Quarter, we menfolk hung out while the women did their final shopping for trinkets and gifts.

BYU t-shirt in the midst of a bunch of other ones'

100-pound backpack again

Rachel with our friend Shaban
Standing on original Roman pavement!

Samuel: "There are a lot of steps in this old town!"
Leaving again through Jaffa Gate, we stopped for ice cream at the Mamilla Shopping Center.

Leaving through Jaffa Gate

In the modern Mamilla Shopping Center
Ice cream, a reward for being a good sport all day

Parking, Jerusalem style, right up in front of the elevators

The Citadel, or Tower, of David
Our final stop was an overlook point at the Hebrew University, where we got some pictures of the city and of the BYU Jerusalem Center, which has been our home this past year.

Home . . . for three more days

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