Today, we walked. And then we would walk some more. Then, we ate lunch. Then, we walked some more. We are all tired, but we'll never forget the memories that we made today.
We started the morning early. To get access to the Temple Mount, you need to get up early and get in line. They open the gates at 7:30, so we left our hotel around 6:45. By 7:00, we were inline and by 7:45, we were on the Temple Mount. We walked around the outside of the Al-Asqa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. We discussed the Biblical events that occurred in this location (Solomon's Temple, Second Temple, the Day of Pentecost, etc).
After exiting the Temple Mount, we took a short visit to the Pool of Bethesda before making our way to the Via Dolorosa. There is considerable discussion about whether or not this is actually the path Jesus walked on the way to the cross (I think not), but it is a beautiful way to walk through the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City. We finally arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulture, which is the traditional location of Calvary.
After lunch and a bit of shopping, we continued through the Muslim spice market to the Western Wall. This original wall from the Second Temple is always something that everyone will remember.
Our next stop was at the Davidson Archaeological Center where we viewed some of the excavations going on just south of the Temple Mount. This also included the opportunity to sit on the First Century steps. From this location, you have a wonderful view of the City of David sitting just to your south.
As we toured the City of David, we were able to visit the large stone structure, which is possibly the palace of King David. From there, we made our way to the Gihon Spring. The group that runs this excavation and park have made tremendous upgrades to the Gihon Spring viewing area since I have been there. It was wonderful.
Afterwards, our group split up and some of us walked through Hezekiah's Tunnel. When the Assyrians were about to attack Jerusalem, King Hezekiah redirected the water flow from the Gihon Spring so that the water would run into the walled city. Water still flows through this tunnel today. The tunnel is about 500 meters and built through solid bedrock. It takes about 30 minutes to walk and it was refreshing to have the cool water rush across your feet.
We ended our day by walking (yes, walking again) up the Herodian channel from the Pool of Siloam and the Temple Mount.
Overall, it was a great day and I'm enjoying so much being with all of these people on the tour. It is quickly coming to a close. Tomorrow, we head to the Shephelah, one of my favorite parts of this land. Until then....