This is the second part of our first day in Jerusalem. With everything covered in part 1, it is hard to believe there is more. Remember, our guide told us this would be the most physically grueling day of the trip.
Now would be a good time to describe the whispers. Back on our very first day in Israel, our guide gave us each a whisper which is a device you wear around your neck with an earpiece. Through the whisper we can hear everything our guide is saying. So when we go in a building or we are at the back of the line when walking, we can hear what he is saying. He can also let us know we are heading back to the bus or if there is something up ahead we need to watch out for such as a hole in the sidewalk or an unexpected step. It is only a one way transmitter, he can talk to us but we can’t talk to him. If we needed his attention we would have to do it the old fashioned way, by yelling. We charged our whispers at the hotel each night.
If our guide told us once, he told us a hundred times, don’t walk and take pictures at the same time. There are too many uneven sidewalks. You will fall. But it is hard to heed those warnings. A few people did take a tumble here or there, but nothing serious.
Now, back to part 2 of day 1 in Jerusalem. Next up was King David’s tomb, the burial site of King David (The tomb is empty and does not contain the bones of David). King David was the Old Testament king of Israel who is credited with composing many of the psalms. The tomb is located in the underground hall of Cenacle, an ancient Crusader church on Mount Zion in front of Zion Gate.
The long tomb is wrapped in a veil in a room with separate entrances for men and women, and men must cover their head. It should be noted that according to the Old Testament of the Bible, King David was buried in the City of David, which is near here. (1 Kings 2:10).
Also located upstairs in the Cenacle is the Upper Room, thought to be the location of the Last Supper.
According to the Bible, the apostles continued to gather here after the Last Supper, and it is also where the Holy Spirit alighted upon the eleven apostles on Pentecost. This room is thought to be the site of the first Christian church. It is important to note that while this is thought to be the authentic site of the Last Supper, the site has been built over four times: the Roman floor, the Byzantine floor, the Crusader floor and the present floor. We have repeatedly seen this as we walked the streets of Jerusalem and visited many holy sites. Today this entire building is managed by the State of Israel Ministry of the Interior.
With its round sandstone tower and graceful Romanesque-style arches, the Dormition Church is one of Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmarks. Dormition Abbey is dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, and she is believed to have died here. (dormition means eternal sleep).
We then went to the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu (Latin for cock’s crow). This is also believed to be the site of the House of Caiaphas. On the roof of the church is a rooster on a black cross, a symbol of Peter’s denial of Christ before the cock crowed.
In the courtyard of the church is a statue that recalls the events of Peter’s denial of Jesus.
Jesus appeared before Caiaphas, the High Priest, after being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26: 57-68) [we will visit garden tomorrow]
It is believed that Jesus spent the night in a cistern or dungeon at the House of Caiaphas before being taken to Pilate the next morning.
Once again, this site has been built over several times. We were able to walk down the stairs under the church into the dungeon. It is believed Jesus was lowered through the hole down into the pit.
Next we went into the Church of Saint Peter.
And with that, we headed back to the hotel. As you can see, the traffic in Jerusalem was really heavy. We were told this is the busiest time of the year for tourists in Jerusalem, and the traffic certainly confirmed it.
Our guide, Mike, had warned us this was going to be a grueling day. And it was!
Next up: Second day in Jerusalem