Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Israel - Jerusalem and Bethlehem | TRAVEL

Israel is a country I have always had an interest to visit but due to the conflict in and surrounding Israel I never imagined I would ever go. When the opportunity arose for us to go, Aaron and I took the chance of a lifetime, jumped on the plane and went! I could tell this trip was going to be a special one.

We arrived into Tel Aviv late Sunday evening and went straight to bed in preparation of our first excursion to Jerusalem and Bethlehem the following day.

We woke up bright and early and went for breakfast in the hotel. We sat outside in the morning sun overlooking the sunrise on the beach. Today was going to be a great day! We hopped on the bus bright and early in pursuit of Jerusalem.

Along with many towns and cities in Israel, Jerusalem is situated on a hill with outstanding views of the valleys beneath. I was amazed at how the new and old architecture came together in such a way that gave the city an incredible atmosphere.

Our first stop for the day was the Old City which is surrounded by a 5000 year old wall within the modern city of Jerusalem. The Old City is divided into Quarters; the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Our tour began in the Christian Quarter where we followed the Via Dolorosa up to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Via Dolorosa is believed to be the path in which Jesus walked with the cross on his way to his crucifixion. There are 9 stations within the Via Dolorosa where a significant event happened during Jesus' walk to Calvary. The remaining 5 are within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is arguably one of the holiest sites in the Christian faith and is believed to be built upon Golgotha/Calvary; the location in which Jesus was crucified. The Church itself is not an extravagant work of art like others such as St Paul's Cathedral in London or the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but it holds a spiritual significance which can be seen and felt throughout the building. Just inside the entrance is the Stone of Anointing which many believe is the rock where Jesus' body was washed and prepared for burial. To the right of the entrance is a stairway that leads to Calvary. This has been transformed into an Alter that is covered in gold and extravagantly decorated. Jesus' Tomb is also within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and is located in and to the left, but unfortunately we did not have time to queue for an hour or so to see that. Walking through the Church I felt a such a rush of emotions that could not be explained and the presence of God was so apparent. It is an experience I will never forget.

We continued through the aromatic markets of the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter.

The Western Wall is the only wall still remaining from the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple and is the holiest site in which Jews are permitted to pray. The Second Temple replaced Solomon's Temple after it was destroyed and is said to have housed the 10 Commandments. What an amazing place to be able to experience another culture and religion in such a holy setting.

After lunch we continued our day onto Bethlehem. As many know in the Christian faith (or from Christmas carols), Bethlehem is the town where Jesus was born. Today it is a Palestinian city located in the West Bank of Palestine with the population consisting of 90% Arabic and 10% Christian. Our little time in Bethlehem was spent going through the biblical sites such as the Nativity Church and the Church of St Catherine. As the Nativity Church was under construction we couldn't see much due to the scaffolding so we didn't stay long. That meant our last stop of the day was Sanctae Catharinae (translated to the Church of St Catherine) which is a more modern church with a beautiful courtyard to the front of the building. The perfect way to end such a special and memorable first day in Israel.

To be continued...

Thank you for reading!

God Bless,
Amber x

All photos taken with an iPhone 6s.
Dress: Boohoo
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