The tour begins in the car park near the Zion gate. This parking lot is the most convenient for wheelchairs and most close to the old city. The route runs along the flat part of the city completely avoiding steps and steep climbs or descents. The path to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher passes through the Jewish and Christian quarters, the ancient Cardo street and the markets of the Christian part of the city.
The modern walls of the old city were built by the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. By the way, he restored the most famous mosque in Jerusalem - the Golden Dome over the Rock. Ironically, striving to create a magnificent city not inferior to its ancient greatness, Jerusalem was deprived of its significant historical part. The modern walls of Jerusalem do not include a vital part of the ancient city, such as the city of David and the home of the high priest Kayafa (St. Peter's Church in Gallicantu). The Zion Gate is one of eight gates in the wall of the city, and traces of battles are visible on them. In 1948, the British left Jerusalem, and the civil war in the city between Jews and Arabs was inflamed with a new force.
Zion Gate leads to the Jewish and Armenian neighborhoods of the old city. In 1948, the Jewish population of the old town met a fatal threat. Traces of bullets at the gates remind of these events. Jordanian troops captured the city, and the Jewish community was exiled. For nineteen years, Jews could not live in the old town of Jerusalem and could not pray at the Wailing Wall.
In the Arab tradition, the Zion Gate is called the gate of the Prophet David or the Jewish Gate. The name of the gate of the Prophet David is associated with the nearby grave of King David. The name Jewish Gate is due to its proximity to the Jewish quarter of the old city. The name Zion Gate comes from Mount Zion. We stand precisely on this mountain. In the 6th century B.C, Jewish refugees escaped from Nebuchadnezzar and came from the north of the country to settle on Zion mount. But Babylonian ruler has sieged Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and exiled Jews to Babylon. Jewish people were dream of returning to Jerusalem and Zion. The word Zion became synonymous with Jerusalem and meant returning home. The social and national movement that developed in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century, set itself the aim of rebuilding an actual Jewish state with its capital in Jerusalem, was titled Zionism. Now, we can understand the reason for this name.
During the nineteen years of the Jordanian occupation, the Jewish quarter was empty, and during the Six-day War 1967 war, Jordanian troops blew up most of the houses before retreating from Jerusalem. The quarter was restored, but not all houses were restored. Some territory was reserved for car parking for residents of the city. Here begins Cardo Street - the main street of the old city.
Restoring the ancient city, archaeologists have discovered many historical artifacts, such as a stone structure for crushing olives. Despite its extraordinary history, the old town is not an open-air museum. People live in it and they buy the famous Jerusalem bread. The Bakery Ne'eman chain was born in Jerusalem in 1944 with a baby stroller loaded with pastries, which helped Rabbi Baruch Neeman support his family and sell bread to passers-by. Over the years, the pram has become a stable distribution network with 50 branches throughout the country. But the home taste and aroma remained unchanged.
The history of this street begins in the second century A.D. The Roman emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem and renamed it. The attempt to change its name occurs the first and last time in the history of the city. Calling the city in the Roman fashion of Aelia Capitolina, they build the temples to their gods and plane the streets known as Cardo and Decumanus. Only after the destruction of the town by the Jordanians in 1967, carrying out restoration work, archaeologists discovered the Roman buildings. The Roman street of Cardo crossed the city from the north to the south. Shops and craft shops were built along the street, and paved sidewalks were shadowed with a roof supported by colonnades.
After Roman urban planners, the overall layout of the city has no changed. The Byzantine Empire replaced the Roman Empire, pagan temples were replaced by churches, but the streets remained the same. Muslims did not need a wide Roman-Byzantine-style street and they divided Cardo into several parallel streets, covered them with arched ceilings and an oriental bazaar become from now and forever a new fashion in Jerusalem streets. From the level of the modern street, you can see the pavement of Roman street.
We leave the Jewish quarter of the old city and move on to the Christian quarter. The narrow passage goes to the right under the arch. Ten meters from us in this direction, there is a public toilet. The toilet is open from nine in the morning until seven in the evening. A little farther away, the massive fortress wall was discovered. It was built during the siege of the city by the troops of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. This fortified wall is twenty-seven centuries old.
We went out to David Street. This street is one of the most famous streets of the city, which crosses it from west to east from Jaffa Gate to the Temple Mount.
An intelligent question may arise on the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian quarter. Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem. Calvary - the place of the crucifixion is located within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located inside the city walls. So, it is easy to conclude that Golgotha was situated inside the walls. That statement is not valid. The fact that in time of Jesus the space north of the David Street was outside the city walls can explain the way rapidly growing Jerusalem included into its territory the place of the crucifixion that initially was situated outside the city walls.
In the Middle Ages, the crusaders build the halls of the Order of Hospitallers near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The name of the catholic order determines its purpose. He was in charge of the hospitality and accommodation of the pilgrims. The patron saint of the order was John the Baptist. The successors of the Hospitallers from the holy land settled in Malta. The Maltese cross came from the cross of the Hospitallers. You can see this cross on a stone pedestal telling about attempts to revive the catholic order in Jerusalem at the end of the 19th century. English Queen Victoria patronized the catholic order of St. John's in Maltha. The Order of Hospitallers, or rather, the renewed Order of St. John, founded the largest ophthalmic clinic in the Middle East. It was housed in new buildings on the Hebron Road outside the old city. But after the war of 1948, the hospital and the institution moved here.
At this place was a cave into which the body of Jesus was brought. These events occurred on Friday. Apparently, due to the fact that Saturday was coming, they did not have time to prepare the cave properly, or there was a need to return and complete the burial rite. The next day when this could be done was the first day following Saturday. On that day, they came to the cave and, according to the tradition of one of the Gospels, they saw an angel saying: "Why are you looking for the living among the dead." Jesus has resurrected. These places were discovered by St. Helena - the mother of Emperor Constantine. Back in the time of Helen and Constantine, a central domed church was built over the cave. Over time, after various destruction and restoration, the crusaders decided to create a small chapel called Kuvukliya on the site of the cave.
This stone, according to tradition, was used for the funeral rite. The body of Jesus was washed, anointed with oils, and wrapped in a shroud upon this stone. Then the body was brought into the cave and the entrance was blocked with a large boulder. This burial was widespread at that time. The body of the deceased was brought into the cave, entrance to which was blocked with big stone to prevent wild animals from accessing the corpse. Since the bodies were not covered with soil, it was necessary to use incense, which exuded a pleasant smell in the burial caves. People sought to avoid the stench emanating from burial caves located outside the city. Today, many believe that the stone exudes myrrh oil - one of the incense that was used in the burial. On this stone, it is customary to consecrate various objects.
The lonely cliff named Golgotha was the site of the crucifixion of Jesus. Two robbers were crucified next to Jesus. Since the time of the Crusaders, stone steps lead to the upper point on Golgotha. A hole in the rock symbolizing the base of the cross is in the central chapel under an altar.
The modern decoration of Golgotha is the work of various artists over the centuries. The southern chapel, which belongs to the Catholics, was decorated with mosaic panels in the thirties of the twentieth century by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi.
The Muristan area was built up in the 19th century on the lands of the Christian neighborhood of the old city of Jerusalem. This old quarter of the town also served as a forum in the Roman city of Aelia Capitolina. Crusaders gave fame and name to this space. Here was the Order of Hospitallers and famous hospitals for pilgrims. After Saladin conquered Jerusalem, mental patients were homed in the hospital, and it was called Bimarestan or Timarestan. Both words have a Persian character. The first word means the hospital, and the second one implies the hospital for mental patients. Later, only the sound of "Muristan" had been survived and gave the name to the entire area. For a long time, it was an abandoned ruin, until its revival began in the second half of the 19th century. In these years, Euthymius was the patriarch of Jerusalem, and the entire shopping complex of Muristan started to be called the Euthymius Bazaar. Not only Christians traded in more than 70 stores located along the straight and diagonal streets of the Euthymius Bazaar. The shops of Jewish tanners and cloth dealers were popular.
The Protestant Church of the Holy Savior in Jerusalem was built at the end of the 19th century. Its opening and consecration were timed with the visit of German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898. During the construction of the church and later, during the renovation, the walls of ancient Jerusalem were discovered. A city wall was found, which indicates that the place of the crucifixion of Jesus was outside the city walls. Today the church is the parish church of the Protestant communities of the old city. The church houses an archaeological museum and a viewing platform on the bell tower, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the old town and its surroundings. The entrance to the museum and the observation deck is paid.
The Hurva Synagogue was known as "The Ruin," or Hurva. This lamentable name tied to the fate of the synagogue. The synagogue, founded in the early 18th century on the ruins of a 15th-century, was destroyed a few years later in 1720 by Ottoman authorities. One hundred forty years then, in 1864, the new community rebuilt the synagogue, and although it was renamed, it retained its name as the Hurva. Soon the temple was destroyed again—this time by the Arab Legion during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. After the Six-day war of 1967, municipal authorities erected a commemorative arch in 1977, which become a famous landmark of the Jewish Quarter. Only on March 15, 2010, the synagogue reconstructed in its 19th-century style was dedicated and reopened for prayer.