Thursday, Mar 31: First Day in Jerusalem

Temple Mount

We begin our first day in Jerusalem with one of the favorite places to take photos of Jerusalem, from the Mount of Olives looking west toward the beautiful city. We get a overview of the Temple Mount, now the site of the Islamic Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque, but formerly the site of the Solomonic and Herodian Temples.

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

As we leave our vantage point, we will walk down the Mount of Olives, visiting several of the important sites as we descend, including the Garden of Gethsemane, the place from which it is believed that Jesus ascended into heaven. Some of the trees from this Garden are very ancient, thought to be saplings from the roots of first century trees.

Church of the Nativity

Church of the Nativity

Later in the day, we will board our bus and travel about six miles south to see the ancient church built in the fourth century AD by Constantine’s mother, Helena, and thought to be the birth place of Jesus. There is no archaeological evidence to confirm where Jesus was born, but this ancient building is televised every December as the place where Jesus was born.

Herodium

Herodium

We will finish our day by visiting Herodium, one of Herod’s palaces. We will see three of his palaces on our trip: Caesarea on the Coast, Masada, and Herodium. Following the text of Josephus that Herod the Great was buried at Herodium, a few years ago archaeologists reported finding the his tomb.

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