Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Via Dolorosa

Sat 31 Oct  

This street zig-zags across the Old City from Lions' Gate in the east to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the west. It is held to be the route taken by Jesus carrying the cross to his crucifixion, although modern archaeology suggests the historical route may have been a few metres away.

The route, which can only be a couple of kilometres long at most, now offers a kaleidoscope of cultures, religions and historical periods, too much to take in at one go. Rather like Israel itself, really. There are the stations of the cross (some marked by churches), and the prison Jesus is believed to have stayed in on his last night; there are Roman remains, medieval walls and an Arab cemetery.

And of course all the while you, the outsider, are passing through an old town going about its 21st century business, where Orthodox Jews stride through the covered Arab souk, Arab shopkeepers solicit your custom ("Hello!"), and Muslim mothers pushing prams stop to chat, each in their own world, oblivious of the others.

We managed to detach ourselves from the group at one point - even sat down for a coffee and baklava :-) - and were able to stop and look around, at our own speed. We had a street map, the Lonely Planet, and our cameras, and were in our element.

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