So many amazing things to witness and wonder at on day two of our tour. We enjoyed a much simpler breakfast at our cosy Azzahra hotel and left at 8am for our walk into the Old City with our guide Azmi. The crowds of the day before hadn’t yet arrived and it was a direct route through the streets, past security and into the Wailing Wall Plaza. The wall is amazing with a constant sound of chanting, murmuring and a clatter of plastic chairs as people moved to get close to the wall. The men’s section was very busy but we had no trouble finding a space sliding our little notes in the tiny crevices between the stones in the women’s section.
After a time there we joined a long line, which only took three quarters of an hour, through more security up into an enclosed timber ramp and in through the Al-Magharbeh Gate to Dome of the Rock. This is a stunning structure and amazing to see. Azmi gives us interesting information about each of the sights but most of that goes in one ear and out the other!
Exiting though St Stephan’s Gate we made our way to the crusader Church of St Anne and the Pool of Bethesda. Superb acoustics resulted in glorious singing from a group of pilgrims arranged in front of the sanctuary.
Continuing along the Via Dolorosa, we started following the Stations of the Cross meandering through the laneways. Lots of separate groups of pilgrims making their way along the route made for some crowded sections, some carrying 90kg wooden crosses and chanting or singing as they went. The culmination of the stations is the amazing Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, died and buried. What an imposing sight. The atmosphere of the church was dramatic and awe inspiring. Many people were jostling for space and trying to move through to the structure built over the burial cave.
After lunch we were driven to the Yad Vashem museum, the memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. A moving and very somber place set in a magnificent building, brutal in its simplicity but a superb memorial to the millions of people murdered during the war.
Dinner with the group, which is very friendly, at our hotel restaurant and into bed to prepare for another busy day.