2017 Israel and Jordan
Visiting the Holy Land is something we have wanted to do for a number of years. This was a spiritual journey that brought us closer to our faith – an exhausting and sometimes unnerving experience that was also very rewarding.
Jerusalem is a vibrant city of contrasts, a mixture of both the modern and the traditional. This has been a place of pilgrimage and worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims since the biblical era. Its Old City has significant religious sites around the Temple Mount compound, including the Western Wall (sacred to Judaism), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (a Christian pilgrimage site), and the Dome of the Rock (a 7th-century Islamic shrine with a gold dome). Below are a sampling of the sights and sounds we experienced while walking around this fascinating place.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, is considered to be the holiest site in the world for Christians. The church has been rebuilt a number of times throughout the years but initially dates back to the fourth century, and is located over the place where Jesus Christ was crucified and then buried.
The Western Wall, or “Wailing Wall”, is the most religious site in the world for Jewish people. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, it is the only remaining part of the western support wall of the Temple Mount since its destruction in 70 AD. Thousands of people journey to the wall every year to visit and recite prayers. Following tradition, we wrote down our prayers on small pieces of paper and inserted them into the cracks in the wall. The wall is divided into two sections, one area for men and the other for women.
Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee
Nazareth is the capital and the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. This is both the childhood home of Jesus Christ and the area where he did most of his preaching. As a result, Nazareth is the center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events. Pictures below include Capernaum, Sea of Galilee, Basilica of the Annunciation, Church of St. Joseph, Chapel of the Milk Grotto, and the Jordan River.
Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau. It is located on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BC. According to Josephus, the siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire during the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of 960 people.
Petra is a visually intoxicating place to visit – an over two thousand year old city carved out of rock. A walk through tall canyons bring you to the treasury, the imposing main building made famous by Indiana Jones. We have also included a few pictures of our overnight stay with a local Bedouin (nomadic) tribe.
A close second to Petra on the list of favorite destinations in Jordan is the ancient city of Jerash, which boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. The Jerash ruins of Jordan are said to be the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy.
The West Bank, a territory of Palestine, has been the source of much disagreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Both lay claim to these lands, which has unfortunately resulted in violent clashes between these two groups. We crossed through the checkpoints and captured the photos below of this fascinating place.
Watch a funny video of Alicia attempting to ride a camel for the first time.
A long hike through huge canyons brings you to the spectacular treasury building in Petra familiar to fans of Indiana Jones.