Mount of Olives panorama

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day before the Students Arrive

Tuesday, August 30The students arrive tomorrow, so much of today was devoted to getting ready for our first out-of-center activities with them when they arrive, an orientation walk around the Old City and parts of West Jerusalem their first morning here and a field trip a few days later to various overlook sites around the city.

For our orientation walk, we like to break the students into as small of groups as we can, so we use the faculty, the service couples assigned to the center, and sometimes the faculty wives.  Elaine can hardly walk up all the stairs in the center let alone walk all around the city.  It is official: the center doctor says that she has walking pneumonia, so she her activities with the family and in the household, let alone with the students, will be limited for another week.  So instead Rachel came with me - she will not be leading her own group, this time (let's see about winter semester!), but it was fun for her to go with me and get out of the center and SEE the real city.

We started by walking out the lower gate of the center and walking down along the north side of the Old City, passing St. Stephen's and Herod's Gates.  Before going into the Old City, we went up Salah e-Din Street, the main street of East Jerusalem.  After seeing the post office, the money changers, and the American Consulate for East Jerusalem (the U.S., like most countries, does not recognize the reunification of the city by the Israelis in 1967 and so maintains diplomatic missions in both sides of the city and its embassy in Tel Aviv), we came back down to the Damascus Gate.

The northeast corner of the Old City near St. Stephen's Gate, which is at the spot where Jesus would have entered the temple complex at the Triumphal Entry

Herod's Gate, which is now the main entrance into the Muslim Quarter. Despite the names of the gates, they and the walls themselves only date back to 1538, when they were built by the Ottoman Turkish sultan Suleimen the Magnificient.
A view of a street in East Jerusalem, the largely Arab area of the city which was part of Jordan until 1967.

Aladdin's, our usual money changer.

The Garden Tomb, with the nearby "Golgotha" or Gordon's Calvary, lie in East Jerusalem just outside the Damascus Gate. Despite less archeological support, these sites are preferred by many Latter-day Saints and some Protestants to the traditional sites within the Old City.
Damascus Gate is perhaps is the busy and interesting main entrance to the Old City. The current city walls, which date to 1538, follow the course of the Roman city of Aelia Capitolina that the emperor Hadrian built on the site of Jerusalem after the Second Jewish Revolt.  The original Jewish city was considerable farther south than the Roman, Medieval, Turkish, or current Old City.  Under the Damascus gate are traces and foundations from the much earlier Roman gate.

Rachel and Eric in front of the Damascus Gate.

An archaeological look at the Roman remains beneath the Turkish gate and wall

Vendors cooking and selling in front of the Damascus Gate

Rachel as she entered the Old City for the first time.
Our orientation walk will take students through the Muslim Quarter to the Austrian Hospice, from the roof of which on has wonderful views of the Old City in each direction.  We then went into the Christian Quarter, the most important site of which is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has been venerated since the fourth century as the scene of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Despite the traditional designations of the various quarters (Muslim, Christan, Jewish, and Armenian), the neighborhoods are mixed demograpically, with Jewish settlers encroaching on other traditional areas. This is the home occupied, at least part time, by the former prime minister Ariel Sharon in the midst of the Muslim Quarter.

The Austrian Hospice, built in the eighteenth century, to serve Catholic pilgrims to the Holy City.

Rachel on the roof of the Austrian Hospice with the Dome of the Rock in the background.

The gray domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are above me and to the left.

The white gray dome in the upper right is that of the Hurva Synagogue, a famous place of worship in the Jewish Quarter that was destroyed in 1948 and recently rebuilt, adding a Jewish dome to the Old City's skyline.

The Muslim Dome of the Rock over the dome of the chapel of the Austrian Hospice

The Via Dolorossa or "Way of Sorrows" is a relatively recent route,  begin established in it current route only in the eighteenth century.  Still, the events of the Passion of Christ that it commemorates remain moving.

Rachel on the Via Dolorossa.

Rachel at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Before the iconstasis, or altar screen, of the Greek Orthodox Church of John the Baptist.  I love Byzantine churches!
Our walk emerges from the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, which opens into West Jerusalem, the Jewish side of the city that has a completely different feel.

The "Citadel of David," an Ottoman fortress built on the site of the old Palace of Herod, is seen upon emerging from Jaffa Gate

Looking across into West Jerusalem, once sees the famous King David Hotel

Ben-Yehuda Street in West Jerusalem feels very European

It even has a (kosher) McDonalds!

Rachel and I enjoyed some frozen yogurt on Ben-Yehuda Street
Later in the day my teaching colleagues and I went on a pre-trip of our Jerusalem Overlook Field Trip.  It takes students to sites such as the Augusta Victoria Hospital and the Five Arches Hotel on the Mount of Olives, St Peter's Gallicantu below the Old City, and an overlook at a monastery called Mar Elias that has views of both Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

The Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives, from the Five Arches Hotel overlook

The same view minus Eric but with more Jewish graves visible

Since the first century, the Mount of Olives has been an important Jewish cemetery, partly because of the belief that the resurrection will begin here.
Looking at the Hinnom Valley, just south of the city, from St Peters Gallicantu. Because child sacrifice was practiced here during the monarchy and trash was burned later, it became the model for Gehenna, or hell.

The garden in the upper of the two corner of the wall is claimed to be Alcedema, where Judas Iscariot committed suicide.

The Al Aqsa Mosque at the south end of the Temple Mount is actually more sacred and important than the more famous gold-domed Dome of the Rock

The monastery of Mar Elias between Jerusalem and Bethlehem

Bethlehem from Mar Elias

One of the possible sites of Sherpherds Field, just north of the city (the traditional sites are east of the city)

The Temple Mount from the south


  1. Okay - where in the world did Elaine get walking pneumonia?? Hope she heals really fast!!

  2. She had a bad chest cold before we left. The stress and exhaustion of packing and then traveling did her in. It is not a severe case, but she is starting antibiotics.