Jerusalem: Holy Land Cradle of faith

By Mike Yardley

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The Holy Land remains a cachet entry on many a bucket list. You would be hard pressed to find any other place quite like Jerusalem.

Imbued with the history and reverence of three world religions, Jerusalem is a spiritual cradle of truly biblical proportions. No other city can boast such significance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

For the first-time visitor, the sheer range of the historic treasures is not just a head rush but potentially hard to navigate.

The life and times of Jesus Christ capture prime interest, and I recommend you concentrate your sightseeing on that. Irrespective of your beliefs, the faithful and the agnostic alike will be inspired by the sights.

The Via Dolorosa is the ultimate walking tour, retracing the path Jesus is believed to have taken, along with his cross, to his crucifixion at Calvary.

The Via Dolorosa, which means Way of the Sorrows, begins in the Muslim quarter of the Old City, a multi-sensory riot of market life. The Stations of the Cross are marked out along the route, culminating in the site of his death and entombment.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest Christian site in Jerusalem, and pilgrims pour in to experience where Christ spent his last hours.

Built on top of Golgotha in 326AD, the church is governed by various Christian denominations including Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian. A Greek Orthodox chapel has its altar directly over the rocky outcrop on which Christ was nailed to the cross. Below the altar, you can bend down and touch the rock into which the cross was hammered.

A piece of Golgotha rock can be seen inside the church, shielded by protective glass. The crack in the rock is believed to have been caused by the violent earthquake which hit immediately after Christ's death.

In thefirst century, Calvary was a disused stone quarry on the fringe of the Old City. Tombs were commonly cut into the rock, including the tomb where Christ was laid.

East of the Old City, the Mount of Olives delivers picture-perfect vistas. Hugely popular is the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations. Venerating the site where Christ prayed to God the night before he was arrested, the garden features the last surviving olive trees from 2000 years ago.

A short drive from Jerusalem takes you to Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem, where you can explore the gorgeous Church of the Nativity and shop for an exquisite nativity scene made from olive-tree wood.

- Hamilton News

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