Israel (Thursday 5/5): Temple Mount, St. Anne’s Church, Western Wall, Gethsemane, Orson Hyde Park, Garden Tomb

Today was our last day in Jerusalem and our first stop was the spectacular Dome of the Rock mosque on Temple Mount. It is the oldest existing example of early Islamic archictecture, and was completed in 691 CE. It standsĀ on the site of the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The outer walls are made of porcelain and the designs mirror the octagonal shape of the mosque.

Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, Jerusalem

Israel took control of the Dome of the Rock during its victory in the Six-Day War in 1967, but a few hours after the Israeli flag was hoisted it was lowered on orders of Moshe Dayan. The Muslim religious trust was given the authority to manage the Temple mount in order to keep the peace. Some Israeli groups still want to relocate the dome and replace it with a Third Temple. Since the Muslims own the Dome and consider it sacred, such actions would inevitably lead to violence.

This was our view of the Dome as we stepped off the bus.

Also located on Temple Mount is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

A group of Palestinian school children who had just finished visiting the Dome of the Rock when we arrived.

Access to non-Muslims is strictly controlled. Absolutely no prayer books are permitted. Apparently even an LDS triple combination would run afoul of the regulations (although I don’t know what they could do about a Bible or Book of Mormon on an iPhone). Ironically, orthodox Jewish rabbis regard entrance to the compound to be a violation of Jewish law because the precise location of the Holy of Holies is not known and this is a sanctuary that may only be entered by a High Priest. (I don’t think my holding the office of High Priest would be recognized by the orthodox Jewish authorities.)

Muslim law forbids opposite sexes touching each other on the Dome of the Rock. We were cautioned that no photos could be taken of couples with their arms around each other or holding hands. Dawn and I carefully complied.

The Newlyweds stretched the rules as much as possible.

This is a marker that points the way for prayer.

One of the gates to the Dome of the Rock

Brian Thompson and Jan Eyring

Next we went to St. Anne’s Church, which is reached after passing by a beautiful garden.

St. Anne’s Church was completed in 1138, but eventually fell into ruin. It was restored in 1856. It is believed to be on the birthplace of Anne, the mother of Mary. The church is renown for its amazing acoustics, perfect for Gregorian chants. When we arrived a small black men’s chorus, probably from South Africa, was singing an impromptu piece with rich African melodies. They were wonderful. After they finished, we moved into their seats and two of the women in our group sang a lovely duet. Then our group sang “I Am A Child of God.” The acoustics made us sound good, though we were far from professional. (We could have used a rehearsal.) After we left another singing group was ready to take our place.

This was a wall outside St. Anne’s. I loved the patterns.

There were some ruins outside the church and colorful poppies had sprouted among the stones.

Diane Larson, lounging on her folding chair.

On the way to our next location we walked through another old part of the city. Here was an interesting wall.

And a shop with colorful clothing.

Next on our stop was the Western (or “Wailing”) Wall. Only men could enter the larger area next to the wall (women could visit a separate, smaller, fenced-off area). The men who entered the wall enclosure were required to wear some sort of head covering. Do we look Jewish?

There were many interesting people crowding around the wailing wall area.

I think I like this religion!

After visiting the Wailing Wall we ate at a nice upstairs restaurant. I loved their porcelain wall designs.

I took this photo from a rooftop near the restaurant.

A Muslim family heading for the Dome of the Rock.

After lunch we went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we heard inspiring talks by Dan and Brad. Again, we don’t know precisely where it was at the time of Christ, but it was probably somewhere in the vicinity of where we were. We also consecrated some oil in the Garden. The Larsons made a gift oil that had been consecrated there on a previous visit to each member of the tour. Here Dawn is standing by one of the centuries-old olive trees, her top matching the flowers.

After walking in the Garden for a time, Dawn and I hiked up the hill to the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden. Like all Church sites, it was nicely kept and quite peaceful.

There was a nice view of a Russian Orthodox Church from the Hyde Garden.

A walkway in the Orson Hyde Garden.

Our last top was “The Garden Tomb.” This is an alternative spot to the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is a much more peaceful site. We heard a nice lecture from a Church of England guide.

One of the claims for this garden as the tomb of Christ is that it is near a rock that has the shape of a skull. (Golgatha is the Aramaic word for skull and may refer to the shape of the place.) However, most archeologists are dubious that this is the site of Christ’s tomb and believe a more likely place would be in or near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The tomb is in the center. After hearing the lecture we all went inside in small groups.

Upon leaving the tomb we were greeted by this sign, which proclaims one of the central optimistic messages of Christianity.

Ralph and Roseanne leaving the tomb.

During our time in the garden we found a quiet corner and had a mini testimony meeting. It was a spiritual end of the day.

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6 thoughts on “Israel (Thursday 5/5): Temple Mount, St. Anne’s Church, Western Wall, Gethsemane, Orson Hyde Park, Garden Tomb

  1. The closeup of the mosaic is fabulous! And I really like how you candidly captured different people in the crowd.

  2. Beautiful pictures! I’ve had so much fun looking at all of your posts. While so much has changed in the last 10 years, it’s comforting to see that so much is the same. I have several pictures that seem to be taken from the same spot as yours! (Yours are better quality, of course! I wish digital had been an option back then!) I am grateful, though, that the one thing pictures can’t capture is the smell of the meat market in the Old City!

    You mentioned that only men were allowed to go down to the Western Wall–was that the entire wall, or only a portion? When I was there, they had it divided, so women could go to the women’s side, but I’m wondering if that has changed.

    Again, great pictures of beautiful places. They make me want to go back!

  3. Thanks, Wanda and Allison. I’m sure this brought back memories for you, Allison. You’re right, women can go to the Western Wall by entering a smaller area adjacent to the men’s section. Good catch; I’ve changed the wording of my post.

  4. Thank you so much for the pictures and the great narative. We lost our camera in Tel-Aviv on the way home. So these are precious. We did have another small camera. But the pictures with the descriptions are wonderful. Thanks again.

  5. Hard to believe so much time has passed. I enjoyed revisiting these wonderful sites. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

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