Our tour starts on the Mount of Olives were we visit the Church of the Ascension. The church marks the spot where Jesus ascended to heaven and there is a rock with an imprinted footprint thought to be where Jesus stood before his ascension (Luke 24:50 – 51). The original church built here was in 390 but most of the chapel building we see today is from the Crusader period (1150).
Nearby is the Church of the Pater Noster (Sanctuary of the Eleona), on this spot Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer. There are plaques on the walls with the Lord’s Prayer written in more than a hundred languages. We see a Crusader cloister and the grotto where Jesus would have taught. This is also where Jesus told his disciples of the eminent destruction of Jerusalem and the 2nd coming.
From the Mount of Olives we look out over the City of Gold across the ancient Jewish cemetery and to the Old City and the Temple Mount beyond. We begin to descend the mount pausing at the Dominus Flevit (the Lord Wept). It was here that Christ cried as he envisioned the destruction of Jerusalem. The Dominus Flevit was designed by architect Antonio Berluzzi to resemble a teardrop. Through the window above the altar we can see the Old City where the two Jewish temples once stood.
A little further along we get to the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that Jesus prayed before his arrest (Mark 14:32-46). The church was funded by a number of nations which each have their coat of arms displayed in decorative glass on the ceiling. The entrance is through tall columns which support a mosaic showing Jesus as the connection between God and man.
We cross the Kidron Valley and arrive at the Lion’s Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. We see the pools of Bethesda as mentioned in the Gospel of John. We visit the Crusader Church of Saint Anne constructed above a grotto thought to be where Jesus’ mother Mary was born.
In the Convent of the Sisters of Zion we enter the cellars to see the water cistern dating back to the Second Temple. We see the Lithostratos, engraved Roman flagstones, which are part of extensive archaeological findings beneath the convent. It is believed that here Pontius Pilate stood in judgment of Jesus in the courtyard of Praetorium.
From here we set out along the Via Dolorosa retracing the route Jesus took as he carried his cross towards his crucifixion. We see the Stations of the Cross where Jesus stopped along the Way of Sorrows and finally we reach the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. It was here that Jesus was crucified on Golgotha and Christ’s burial tomb is within the church. The vast Byzantine basilica has many alters and within the church are five of the Stations of the Cross.