I was emailing a friend and coworker from Israel today and started reminiscing about my two visits there. Then this evening, my wife and I went to a social after the vigil Mass, and one of the retired priests who lives close by, Fr. Joe Muha (whose photgraphs were on display for the social), had a few shots of Nazareth and the Mt. of Olives. I started looking over some of my photos, and I realized that I still have quite a few I haven't posted.
Why Israel? What I can tell you is that something about the country gets into your blood, particularly if you go to Jerusalem or the northern sites. Tel Aviv is really not much to write home about. Jaffa has some very cool aspects, but both Tel aviv and Jaffa are simply too modern and too secular. However, step into Jerusalem, and things are simply different. How many cities can you recall that are built out of cut stone? And for a Christian (as for a Jew or a Muslim), Jerusalem is just am incredible place. Gallilee also holds some intrigue, but I can tell you that summer is not the best time to take that tour. Being from southern Idaho, I'm used to heat, but 98 degrees seems much hotter below sea level at Lake Kinneret.
The entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre is actually a Crusader ruin. You'll notice a stairway up to Station 10 of the Way of the Cross, where Jesus was stripped prior to crucifixion.
All three times I have gone to the basilica, someone from the Nusseibeh family has been sitting on those steps. This Mulsim family has been responsible for holding the keys to the basilica for the last 900 years.
This altar is on the back side of the Edicule and is maintained by the Armenian Apostolic Church, relative late comers to the basilica.
The Coptic/Ethiopian Church has shrines on the roof of the basilica. There are small points of interest all throughout the basilica.
This prie-dieu is located in the quarry wher St. Helena found the true cross.
This panel is below Golgotha and is the traditional location of the burial of Adam's skull. From a different angle, you can see a fracture in the rock that was to have occured at the crucifixion. If you can find older crucifixes, you might find a skull at the base, a token of this ancient tradition.
Sorry for the flash. I really need to learn how my camera works.
As Fr. Amateis and I were walking along the Herodian streets, we came upon this replica of a mosaic found in Madaba.
This mosaic shows the layout of Jerusalem in the 6th century, with the cardo maximus running north of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This photo is of the Dome of the Rock.
Just to the east on the temple mount is the Al-Aqsa mosque. I've been told that you really don't want to be around the western wall on Fridays (which is the Muslim holy day). Apparently, the people on the temple mount will lob rocks down onto the people praying at the western wall. Also, you don't want to call the temple mount by that name around Muslims if you are visiting the Old City. To Muslims, it's the Noble Sanctuary. Even Fr. Amateis was harrassed by someone in the souks when he was explaining to me the geography of the Old City.
This is the Damascus gate, which is on the north side of the Old City and in east Jerusalem. I made the mistake of asking my taxi driver to take me here on my second trip. He dropped me off "200 meters" from the gate, which was actually two miles or so from where I asked him to take me (Gethsemane). You'll find that some places are more accessible on foot that via bus or taxi.
I did get one disappointing shot as we drive by the gate at the olive grove at Gethsemane (also known as the garden). "Gethsemane" means "oil press," and there is an oil press dating to the time of Christ on the compound.
Here's the Church of St. Peter in Jaffa. Jaffa is sort of an artists' enclae thes days. It's traditionally an Arab city (Yafo).
The narrow streets of Jaffa are what you would expect of an ancient city.
The photos following are all from the second trip. By this time, I was fully into travelling around Israel and less concerned about my personal safety. Tours are a good way to see the Holy Land as the directors have a good grasp of the situation on the ground and won't take you into dangerous situations.
Nonetheless, you will see some tours with armed guards, and you'll see armed staff everywhere. It's oddly unnerving for people in the US, especially those of us who support the second amendment. In the US, very few police carry assault weapons, except in extraordinary circumstances. In Israel, they're the norm. In Britain and France, they carry various bullpup (as we learned in our lovely layover incident at Charles De Gualle Internatinal Airport).
I took most of those photos above on my first trip. Those that folow are almost exclusively from the second.
This is one of the many doors of the Basilica of the Annunciation. Each has various scenes from scripture.
This one is a shot of the ground level in Nazareth at the time of Christ. This was taken in the basilica and is supposed to be around the locale of the annunciation.
Here is the Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth, which is built over a craftsman's shop, supposedly Joseph's. Keep in mind that these are sites borne out by tradition with a lower-case T. However, it's a scant 100 yards or so from the basilica. In a town of 200, that seems about right.
This is the entrance to Capernaum. The whole site is now owned by the Vatican. However, the Greek Orthodox Church has a site nearby.
This photo is from within the church at Capernaum and is above the ruins of the church that was built onto St. Peter's house.
Here's a shot of the ruins of Capernaum southeast of the synagogue.
This mosaic is in front of the altar at the church of the Primacy of St. Peter.