Following Steps of Jesus Walking Tour in Jerusalem (Self Guided), Jerusalem

Jerusalem was considered for centuries to be the center of the universe. The most famous figure in the history of mankind, Jesus Christ, fulfilled his divine mission in this city. This self-guided tour will retrace the steps of Jesus to show you some of the holiest places in the world.
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Following Steps of Jesus Walking Tour in Jerusalem Map

Guide Name: Following Steps of Jesus Walking Tour in Jerusalem
Guide Location: Israel » Jerusalem (See other walking tours in Jerusalem)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Pater Noster Church
  • Chapel of the Ascension
  • Garden of Gethsemane
  • Dominus Flevit Church
  • Bethesda
  • Via Dolorosa
  • Notre Dame de Sion Ecce Homo Convent
  • Garden Tomb
  • Dormition Abbey
Pater Noster Church

1) Pater Noster Church

The Pater Noster Church is built on the site in Jerusalem where Jesus was thought to have taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. The name in Latin means “Our Father.” It is almost impossible to tell if this spot is the exact location of the teaching, we only know that the he did teach in a cave on the Mount of Olives.

The first church to be built on this site was commissioned by Constantine in 330, and that church suffered heavy damage in 614 at the hands of the Persians. The Crusaders built a small oratory, or place of worship that is not intended for the public, on the site amid the rubble in 1106. That location was badly damaged in 1187 and finally left to ruin in 1345. In 1874 reconstruction was begun and still remains unfinished.

The rebuild was the work of the Princess de La Tour d‘Auvergne. She loved the Lord’s Prayer and had it added to several of the tile plaques there. She was very sure the cave existed, but it was not found before her death. Her remains now rest at the Pater Noster Church in the tomb.

There are, however, still lots to see at the church, including 62 exquisitely tiled plaques that have the Lord’s Prayer written in 62 different languages. Even though just partially rebuilt, the original size of the church has been maintained. There are steps leading into the grotto where the teachings were said to have occurred. Sadly, very little of the original stone work still remain. There is also a garden that stands outside the three doors that give an accurate idea of how large the atrium was.

There are no entrance fees to see the Church, hours are M-Sat: 8:30-11:45; 3-5. It is closed on Sunday.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chapel of the Ascension

2) Chapel of the Ascension (must see)

The Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem is a house of worship that is sacred to both Christians and Muslims. It is believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. In addition, there is a stone located here that supposedly is an imprint of Jesus’ feet.

Before the point in history where Emperor Constantine was converted to the faith, early believers held special celebrations honoring Christ’s return to heaven in a small cave located on the Mount of Olives. Most likely, the cavern was used for safety and security of the worshippers. By circa 380, though, the place was well known as the location of Jesus’ return to heaven. This was even recorded in the annals of history by the noted writer Egeria.

The first official house of worship was built here around 390 by Poimenia, who was a famous Roman Lady of means. The original church was leveled during a war with Persia around 613. Modestus had it restored not soon after. By 680 A.D. there are historical records that pointed to the fact the place was reported to have the footprints of Jesus. Pilgrims would even take home dust from the place as a religious relic.

A church with the famous eight sides was built by the Crusaders circa 1150. In 1198, Salah al-Din was instrumental in the addition of a stone dome and mihrab. Muslims consider the place to be holy, despite the lack of any mention of the event in the Qu’ran. The event of Jesus’ ascension is also considered to be factual. The place continued to be a mosque for many centuries to come.

The building fell into ruin through the years. The east section of the wall was sealed off to form the shrine that stands to this very day. A mosque was built next to the chapel. This happened in 1620; all the property is still in Muslim hands.

If you want to visit this place, try to do so when there are not too many people inside. Also, try to come before or after prayer time (before or after noon).
Garden of Gethsemane

3) Garden of Gethsemane (must see)

The Garden of Gethsemane lies at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. The name means “oil press” and most certainly refers to the fact that this area was used to press olive oil in the time of Jesus. It is now walled, but it is still a lovely place to visit and perhaps pray.

The Church of All Nations was built here in 1924. This house of worship is also known as the Basilica of the Agony. Two other holy places have also occupied this spot. One was a Byzantine-style building built in the fourth century and destroyed around 750. The Crusaders built a chapel on the spot in the 12 century which also was demolished.

The Garden of Gethsemane still has olive trees on the grounds. Although there is some dispute about exactly how old they are, there may be some on the grounds that were around during the time of Jesus. There is some evidence that the original plants were destroyed by fighting and in an effort to destroy this very religious place, but the general consensus is that some of the roots did survive.

Olive trees have a long life span, so it is not an outrageous thought that some of them shaded the grounds then, just as they do today. These plants grow wider instead of taller, so the very wide ones are the oldest. They still produce fruit and are harvested in late September or early October. As you leave, you might want to offer the gatekeeper a few shekels for a stroll through the private garden.

This beautiful Garden is where Jesus and the disciples came to pray. He was said to have prayed so reverently at one time that he sweat blood. He most likely entered the city on Palm Sunday, by going through this place, through the gate that has long since been walled up. This is also the location of the famous betrayal by Judas Iscariot.

Make sure you cover up (shoulders covered and shorts come below your knees, etc.) or you will be refused entry.
Dominus Flevit Church

4) Dominus Flevit Church

If you translate the name of this place into English it means “the Lord wept.” In fact the building was constructed like a teardrop. The design was meant to symbolize the tears of Christ. This is reportedly the place where Jesus has his “great lament” for the people of Israel, and predicts the future destruction of the second temple. Many would go so far as to say he also foretold the Diaspora of the Jewish people. (Luke 19:37-42)

Like many similar religious buildings, it sits on an ancient site. During construction of the sanctuary, archaeologists uncovered what one might consider to be an archaeological gold mine. They were literally hundreds of artifacts located there, and many were very old.

The location did not really become famous, though, till the time of the Crusaders. A small chapel was eventually built there to commemorate the event. The place fell into ruin after the fall of Jerusalem in 1187. During the 16th Century, a madrasah was constructed on the site by the Turks. This is how it got the names el Mansouriyeh (The Triumphant) and also el Khelweh (The Hermitage).

Several different structures were built on this site over the centuries. Finally, in 1953, heavy reconstruction was started by the owners, i.e. the Franciscans. Workers found ancient tombs. A late bronze era tomb from the Canaanite period was found. The archaeological team also found a necropolis used from 136 BC to 300 AD. The current house of worship was completed in 1955, architected by Antonio Barluzzi. It is currently held in trust by the local Fransiscans.

5) Bethesda

The Pool of Bethesda is a small body of water that is located in the Muslim section of Jerusalem. It is on the way to Beth Zeta Valley. In the Christian Bible, there is an account of such a place that was reported to have been near the Sheep Gate, and was encircled by five grand colonnades. The water is considered to have healing properties.

There is no conclusive proof that this is the pool talked about in the Gospel, but many still find this place to be sacred none the less. Its existence is only mentioned in the recorded writing of John.

The existence of this place was found in the 19th Century. Archaeologists found the remains of the pool here, which coincidentally matched the description of the body of water from the New Testament. The description describes it to a tee.

The tranquil place is a must visit for those who hold the belief that this is the pool of healing water mentioned in the Bible. Even outside this belief, the location is full of archaeological richness. At least from a Biblical standpoint, the ground has been described in enough detail that modern science was able to find it by that description.
Via Dolorosa

6) Via Dolorosa (must see)

Via Dolorosa is Latin for the “Way of Grief” or the “Way of Suffering”. It is interesting that while most signs in Jerusalem are in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, this one road is just given the Latin name. The road is popular among Christian pilgrims who believe it traces the steps that Jesus took carrying his cross on the way to his crucifixion.

14 stations mark the path along the route, including the five that are in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Although anyone can walk the Via Dolorosa at any time, every Friday around 3 PM, a group is lead by Franciscan monks along the path. This is the best way to experience the walk. This area can be very crowded and the signs a bit difficult to find. At spots, the walk backtracks a bit and station IX can be particularly difficult to find. Some may find the noisy streets a bit distracting when trying to find a quiet spot to pray or contemplate the area's religious significance.

There have been several different versions of the path throughout history, the current path having been set in the 1700s, and follows the path set by the early Byzantine Christians. The stations are marked with round signs that have Roman numerals marking the Stations of the Cross. Different religious groups may start the walk at different sites.

The journey begins at the site where Jesus was tried and convicted in Old Jerusalem at the near Lion’s gate in the Muslim section although some may choose to start at Herod’s Palace at the Jaffe Gate. The route ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and covers approximately 500 meters.

There is no entrance fee to the Via Dolorosa. There are many churches along the way to visit and several gift shops that offer religious icons. Re-enactments are frequently held especially around Holy Week.

The cobbled stone path can be very slippery. If it rains prior to your visit, there will be sections to be walked with extreme caution. Some areas can be quite steep, with many stairs and inclines.
Unless you wake up around 5 o'clock, don't expect much time for quiet contemplation. There's much hustle & bustle and you will need to walk quickly or be run over by a motorcycle, human, or goat!
Best to go with a tour guide or bring a very comprehensive map/book and get the camera ready! Besides the spiritual significance of the area, the artwork and architecture are impressive.
Notre Dame de Sion Ecce Homo Convent

7) Notre Dame de Sion Ecce Homo Convent (must see)

Notre Dame de Sion Ecce Homo Convent is the first station of the cross located on the Via Dolorosa. It takes its name from the statement Pilate made as he presented Jesus to the mob and said “Behold, the man.” This is the place where Jesus, as well as other prisoners, were tortured before the crucifixion. There are several caves and tunnels to see, and they still stand witness to the games the Roman soldiers played with their prisoners while they were being tortured.

The Convent also houses a hostel that has one of the best views of Old Jerusalem available. The terrace has incredible views and should absolutely not be missed, and the guest rooms also have good views. If a fancy hotel with turndown service is a necessity, this will not be the place to book. However, if a clean hotel with good food and comfortable accommodations work, be sure to stay here.

There are two different levels of accommodations available. The first is the dormitories (these are not co-ed). The beds have partitions around them and a curtain as a door. Bathroom facilities are shared, yet when one thinks of a dorm, it is usually a row of beds with no privacy available. These are definitely a step up.

The second level of accommodations is rooms that have private bathrooms and a desk. Single through quadruple rooms are available to match most family or group sizes. Breakfast is included and it consists of breads and spreads, juice, coffee, fruits and vegetables. Supper can also be ordered if desired. Guests are welcome to join in the convent chapel for mass, and prayer time. It is a special place to stay and pray in Jerusalem.

While here do not miss the cistern or Struthion Pool that was built in 135 CE. This provided water for the Temple Mount.
Also, the Ecce Homo Arch is there and it spans the Via Dolorosa and then continues into the basilica.
Garden Tomb

8) Garden Tomb (must see)

The Garden Tomb, which is also known by the name of Gordon’s Calvary, is located in Jerusalem, just outside the Damascus Gate. It is a burial site cut of the rock of the mountain. For some, this is the true location of the burial and resurrection spot for Jesus. Many also contend this is the real Golgotha. This is in contradiction to the traditional beliefs that hold that the location is at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The theory behind this place starts in 1883 when General Charles Gordon finds this rocky ledge, which reminded him the story of the “place of the skull” talked about in the Crucifixion narratives of the Bible. Very close to this spot, he identified an ancient tomb. So, he concludes that he located the hill of crucifixion and the nearby burial place.

Whatever one might believe as to the authenticity of the garden, there are several factors that make this location plausible as a place where Jesus could have been laid. For one, the look of the hill, even after years of erosion, is that of a skull. One might also note the cistern that resides nearby, which help to prove that this ground was once a garden. Finally, the placement of a tomb as credibility to the story that Jesus could have been put to rest here.

Email in advance if you'd like a guided tour. It takes around 20 mins and the rest of the time is yours to reflect, read, take pictures...
Dormition Abbey

9) Dormition Abbey (must see)

Dormition Abbey is built upon the site that traditionally is thought to be where the Blessed Virgin Mary died. It was constructed in the early 1900s as a German Benedictine Abbey on top of Mount Zion, just outside of the city walls at the Zion Gate. It sits atop a Byzantine church that lay in ruins called Hagia-Maria-Scion and sometimes the abbey is known by that name.

The Byzantine Church was built by Christians several hundred years after the death of Jesus. It was destroyed, and several centuries later the Crusaders rebuilt the structure. It was again destroyed and remained in ruins until the land was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who commissioned the building. The Abbey also includes a beautiful large round sanctuary and a large bell tower. The top of the place has a rooster on the weather vane to symbolize Peter’s denial of Jesus. This place is called Dormitio Beatae Mariae Virginis or Holy Sleep of the Virgin Mary. It was damaged during the 1948 war and was restored again after the 6-day war. The name Dormition is an old word that means “falling asleep” or death and the resurrection to heaven.

The inside of the church are six alcoves or small chapels that have incredible mosaic work depicting the life of Mary and Jesus. There is a crypt in the lower level that holds the sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s deathbed. Visitors can light candles at this location. Chapels and alters have been donated from around the world and make the tour of the church just breathtaking.

It is free to get in the Dormition Abbey. Hours vary, so check before going.

Make sure to use their 3-shekel bathroom to see the ruins they have there with an explanation!
Also, the attached coffee shop is a real haven in the maze complex of the Old City.

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