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  • Day3

    We visited the original old city of Jerusalem yesterday. We were there for a full 12 hours and could have spent another day there. It is an amazing place that must be visited to fully understand and appreciate. So much history and a melting pot if cultures that have persisted for thousands of years.

  • Day8

    On this and our previous visit, we'd seen much of Jerusalem from ground level, but most of its history lies many metres below the present surface. This was the day when we were to see so much more of Jerusalem's ancient history.

    Gil and Mira had booked for the four of us to go on two guided tours, starting with a tour of the City of David. Menachim, our very knowledgeable guide started at a lookout overlooking the present Old City, where he pointed out the area where it is believed the early city began some 3200 years ago. We also viewed ancient stone walls, believed to be part of the palace of King David, dating back to the 10th to 9th century BC. The old city is like one giant archaeological site, and we spent some time observing some archaeologists at work many metres below where we were standing.

    There are many tunnels which used to carry water, and we walked through one of them, a distance of several hundred metres, under the walls of the old city. Both of us were pleased that we'd lost weight, as the tunnel was a fairly tight squeeze in some places. This was a fascinating way to learn about Jerusalem's origins and history, and we thoroughly enjoyed our two hours with a very knowledgeable guide.

    We then went for a wander in the area of the western wall of Temple Mount, and Gil and Brian visited the synagogue at the southern end of the wall. (By custom, women aren't allowed in there). It was a very biblical scene with many religious Jews praying in there, and Brian would have liked to have taken photos. Somehow it didn't seem right to do so, though that didn't deter quite a number of the tourists who were happily snapping away without any sense of decorum.

    This was only Part 1 of very interesting our history lesson, and after a light lunch in the Arab quarter of the old city we set off on Part 2, which was a tour through the Tunnel of the wall. It is easy to forget that the walls of Temple Mount extend down well below the present street level. The Western Wall Tunnel is an underground tunnel exposing the full length of the Western Wall. The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located under buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem. While the open-air portion of the Western Wall is approximately 60 metres long, the majority of its original length is hidden underground. The tunnel allows access to an additional 485 metres of the wall.

    Our American-born guide for this tour fancied himself as a stage actor, and he certainly livened things up with his performance. It proved to be highly enjoyable. The tunnel itself was beautiful and cool, almost like being in air conditioning, and a pleasant break from the heat outside. To see thousands those giant limestone blocks up close, and to realise how heavy they are and how precisely they fit together with barely the the space for a cigarette paper between them, makes one realise what a massive engineering structure the Temple Mount is. It was built under the reign of King Herod, who is responsible for many grandiose engineering works such as his three palaces on the top of the almost inaccessible Masada.

    We spent some time examining the biggest stone in the Western Wall, often called the Western Stone. It ranks as one of the heaviest objects ever lifted by human beings without powered machinery. The stone has a length of 13.6 metres, height of 3 metres, and an estimated width of between 3.5 metres and 4.5 metres. Estimates place its weight at 520 tonnes. That is only slightly less than a fully-laden A380 jumbo, so it's mind-boggling to think of this single large stone being quarried and then lifted and manoeuvred into place. Following our excellent day of history tours we headed back to Gil and Mira's for breather before heading out for a very tasty meal at one of the many restaurants in the suburb of Ein Kerem.
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  • Day7

    Happy Birthday, Kadda


    Der siebte und somit vorletzte Tag unserer Reise begann für uns mit der Busfahrt in das 20 km entfernte Bethlehem. Heute konnte uns Giddi aus Sicherheitsgründen nicht begleiten, da die Stadt im palestinensischen Autonomiegebiet liegt. Nach der Fahrt durch die Trennungsmauer führte uns ein arabischer Einheimischer namens Kamal zur Nativity Church bzw. Geburtskirche. In der ältesten Kirche des Heiligen Landes werden täglich sechs Gottestdienste gefeiert - jeweils zwei der katholischen, griechisch-orthodoxen und armenisch-orthodoxen Konfession. Aufgrund eines gerade zelibrierten Gottesdienstes am angeblichen Geburtsort Jesu konnten wir an diesem Ort nur einen kurzen Blick erhaschen.

    Anschließend liefen wir über den sehr lebendig wirkenden Basaar zu unserer Partnerschule " Ecole Des Freres " , wo wir von Lehrern und Gastschülern sehr herzlich empfangen und durch das Schulgebäude geführt wurden.

    Anders als an deutschen Schulen konnten wir hier Kinder und Jugendliche aus dem Kindergarten bis zur zwölften Klasse antreffen. Nach einem traditionellen arbaischen Frühstück mit Falafel und Hummus machten wir uns mit den Gastschülern auf den Weg zu den Hirtenfeldern. Dieser heilige Ort wird von katholischen, evangelischen und griechisch-orthodoxen Christen geteilt.

    Nach einem kurzen Abstecher in den christlichen Basaar führte uns die Tour weiter zu einem Heimatsmuseum, welches uns die palestinensische Identität und Kultur näherbrachte.

    Wenige Schritte davon entfernt besichtigten wir ein neu entstandenes internationales Kongresszentrum, welches jedoch größtenteils leerstand. Auf der anderen Straßenseite besuchten wir anschließend die sogenannten "Solomon Pools", welche in der Römerzeit für die Wasserversorgung bis nach Jerusalem nützlich waren. Heute gelten die unter der islamischen Herrschaft ausgeschmückten Anlagen als Tourristenattraktion.

    Zurück an der Schule teilten wir uns in Kleingruppen auf die Gastfamilien auf, um einen besseren Eindruck in das Leben einer palestinensischen Familie zu bekommen. Nach einem ausgiebigen, traditionellen Essen und großer Gastfreundschaft trafen wir uns alle für eine weitere Mahlzeit in einem Restaurant und gingen gegen Abend gemeinsam zurück zur Schule.

    Dort erwartete uns das von der Schule vorbereitete Abendessen, welches wir mit musikalischer Begleitung der Schüler sehr genossen. Nach einer beidseitig herzlichen Verabschiedung verließen wir sehr gesättigt die Stadt Bethlehem.

    Unser treuer und sehr geschätzter Busfahrer Anan brachte uns wie immer sicher zurück zu unserer Unterkunft in Jerusalem.

    Viele liebe Grüße aus dem Heiligen Land!

    von Tabea, Franzi und Eva
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  • Day9

    Under tower where Hared met wise men, by tradition.

    The Tower of David is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City's defenses, the citadel that stands today was constructed during the 2nd century BCE and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt throughout the years by the Christian, Muslim, Mameluk, and Ottoman conquerors of Jerusalem. It contains important archaeological finds dating back 2,700 years, and is a popular venue for benefit events, craft shows, concerts, and sound-and-light performances.

    The name "Tower of David" was first used by the Byzantine Christians who believed the site to be the palace of King David.


    During the 2nd century BC, the Old City of Jerusalem expanded onto the so-called Western Hill. This 773-meter-high prominence, which comprises the modern Armenian and Jewish Quarters as well as Mount Zion, was bounded by steep valleys on all sides except for its northwest corner. After King David and his son the legendary King Solomon's initial fortifications, King Hezekiah may have been the first to specifically fortify this area. Centuries later, the Hasmonean kings surrounded the area with an impressive wall and large watchtowers, which 1st century historian Josephus Flavius refers to as the First Wall.

    Herod, who assumed power after the fall of the Hasmonean dynasty, added three massive towers to the fortifications in 37-34 BC. He built these at the vulnerable northwest corner of the Western Hill, where the Tower of David is now located. His purpose was not only to defend the city, but to safeguard his own royal palace located nearby on Mount Zion. Herod named the tallest of the towers, 145 feet in height, thePhasael in memory of his brother who had committed suicide (or so it was reported). Another tower was called the Miriam, named for his second wife whom he had executed and buried in a cave to the west of the tower. He named the third tower the Hippicus after one of his friends. Of the three towers, only the Phasael still stands today.

    Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, the site served as barracks for the Roman troops. When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as the imperial religion in the 4th century, a community of monks established itself in the citadel.

    After the Arab conquest of Jerusalem in 638 CE, the new Muslim rulers refurbished the citadel. This powerful structure withstood the assault of the Crusaders in 1099 CE, and surrendered only when its defenders were guaranteed safe passage out of the city.

    During the Crusader period, thousands of pilgrims undertook the pilgrimage to Jerusalem by way of the port at Jaffa. To protect pilgrims from the menace of highway robbers, the Crusaders built a tower surrounded by a moat atop the citadel, and posted lookouts to guard the road to Jaffa. The citadel also served as the seat of the Crusader kings of Jerusalem.

    In 1187, Sultan Saladin captured the city and the site. The Mameluks destroyed it in 1260 CE and later rebuilt it. The citadel was rebuilt yet again between 1537 and 1541 by the Ottomans, who designed an impressive entrance, behind which stood a cannon emplacement. For 400 years, the citadel served as a garrison for Turkish troops. The Ottomans also installed a mosque at the site and added the minaret, which still stands today. It was during this time that the complex began to be called the "Tower of David", after the founder-king of Jerusalem.

    During World War I, British forces under General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem. General Allenby formally proclaimed the capture standing on a platform outside the entrance to the Tower of David.

    During the period of the British Mandate (1917-1948), the British High Commissioner established the Pro-Jerusalem Society to protect the city's cultural heritage. This organization cleaned and renovated the citadel and reopened it to the public as a venue for concerts, benefit events and exhibitions by local artists. In the 1930s, a museum of Palestinian folklore was opened in the citadel, displaying traditional crafts and clothing.

    Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Arab Legion captured Jerusalem and converted the citadel back to its historical role as a military position, as it commanded a dominant view across the armistice line into Jewish Jerusalem. With the Israeli victory of 1967 after the Six-Day War, the citadel's cultural role was revived.

    Tower of David Museum

    The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem was opened in 1989 by the Jerusalem Foundation. Located in a series of chambers in the original citadel, the museum includes a courtyard containing archeological ruins dating back 2,700 years. The exhibits depict 4,000 years of Jerusalem's history, from its beginnings as a Canaanite city to modern times. Using maps, videotapes, holograms, drawings and models, the exhibit rooms each depict Jerusalem under its various rulers. Visitors may also ascend to the ramparts, which command a 360-degree view of the Old City and New City of Jerusalem. As of 2002, the Jerusalem Foundation reported that over 3.5 million visitors had toured the museum.

    David's Tower or David's Citadel should not be confused with the City of David and Hezekiah's Tunnel or with the five star hotel of the same name nearby. The Tower of David is a museum set in the restored citadel.
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  • Day9

    The Ophel or Ophlas, meaning fortified hill or risen area, is the biblical name given to a certain part of a settlement or city that is elevated from its surroundings. In the Bible the Ophel refers to the elevation of two cities: the City of David in the Old City of Jerusalem, and at Samaria, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Israel. The term "ophel" is equivalent to the Greek term "acropolis".Read more

  • Day11

    The Garden of Gethsemane

    Left of the Tomb of the Virgin in Jerusalem is a passage leading to the Grotto of the Agony, then immediately south is the Garden of Gethsemane with its eight ancient olive-trees. Next to the Garden is the Church of All Nations. (D)

    The Modern Grotto of Gethsemane (the Oil Press)

    Inside the cave are an impressive stone vault and three altars with murals over them. Over the high altar there is Jesus Praying among the Apostles, while the paintings over the side altars depict the Assumption of the Virgin and the Kiss of Judas.

    In spite of some renovations carried out in the late fifties of the last century, of all the many holy places in Jerusalem the Grotto of Gethsemane has best conserved its original appearance, that is, the appearance it had at the time of Christ's life on earth. (W)
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  • Day11

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    Bethlehem is now a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, approximately 8 kilometers (5 mi) south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism. The Hebrew Bible identifies Beit Lehem as the city David was from and the location where he was crowned as the king of Israel. The New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Luke identify Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, though the size of the community has shrunk due to pressures from Muslims and subsequent emigration.

    The city was sacked by the Samaritans in 529 BCE, during their revolt, but was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Bethlehem was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab in 637 BCE, who guaranteed safety for the city's religious shrines. In 1099 BCE, Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamlukes in 1250 BCE, the city's walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

    The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan annexed the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.

    Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The Bethlehem agglomeration includes the towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, as well as the refugee camps of 'Aida and Azza. Bethlehem's chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity. Bethlehem has over thirty hotels and three hundred handicraft work shops. Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the northern entrance just outside of Bethlehem. (W)
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  • Day12

    The Garden Tomb is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, and therefore a possible site of the resurrection of Jesus. The Garden is owned and administered by The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, a Christian non-denominational charitable trust based in the United Kingdom.

  • Day5

    We had the opportunity to tour the oldest inhibited city in the world, Jericho. Here we were able to visit the exact location, the Mount of Temptation, where the Devil tempted Jesus during his 40 day fast. This was also the area where Jesus passed through Jericho where he healed blind beggars and inspired the tax collector named Zacchaeus, who was sitting up in a sycamore tree, to repent his dishonest practices. Oh, and I had the opportunity to ride a camel...when in Jericho...ride as the people of Jericho do. Ha. :)Read more

  • Day7

    We ended our day yesterday with visiting three moving sites. We were able to visit the Benedictine Church of the Dormition. Tradition tells us that this church is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, "fell asleep". Nearby we went to visit the Upper Room on Mt. Zion. The Upper Room is where Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Last Supper, and where Jesus appeared to His disciples after His Death and Resurrection. Finally, we walked down the street to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. This church commemorates where Jesus was examined and eventually imprisoned before the council in Jerusalem. It also commemorates Peter's denial of Christ, Peter's repentance, and Jesus' forgiveness of Peter.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Palestine, Palästinensische Autonomiegebiete, Palestina, Palestaen West Bank ne Gaza, የፍልስጤም ግዛት, فلسطين, Fələstin Bölqüsü, Палестынскія тэрыторыі, Палестински територии, Palesitini, ফিলিস্তিন অঞ্চল, Tiriadoù Palestina, Palestinska Teritorija, Palestinská území, Tiriogaeth Palesteina, De palæstinensiske områder, པེ་ལིསི་ཊི་ནིཡ ན་ཊེ་རི་ངོ་རི, Palestinia nutome, Παλαιστινιακά Εδάφη, Territorios Palestinos, Palestiina ala, سرزمین‌های فلسطینی, Palestiin Sisjordani e Gaasaa, Palestiina, Palestinskt territorium, Territoire palestinien, Na Críocha Pailistíneacha, પેલેસ્ટિનિયન ટેરિટરી, Palasɗinu, השטחים הפלסטיניים, फ़िलिस्तीन, Palestinsko Područje, Palesztin Terület, Otoritas Palestina, Palestína, パレスチナ, პალესტინის ტერიტორია, Ukingo wa Magharibi na Ukanda wa Gaza wa Palestina, ប៉ាលេស្ទីន, ಪ್ಯಾಲಿಸ್ಟೇನಿಯನ್ ಪ್ರದೇಶ, 팔레스타인 지구, فەلەستین, Palesitayini, Palɛsine, Palestinos teritorija, Palesine, Palestīna, പാലസ്തീന്‍ പ്രദേശങ്ങള്‍, पॅलेस्टिनी प्रदेश, Palestinian Territory, ပါလက်စတိုင်း ပိုင်နက်, Palestinsk territorium, Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, प्यालेस्टनी भू-भाग, Palestijnse gebieden, ପାଲେସ୍ତେନିଆ, Terytoria Palestyńskie, فلسطین, Territórios palestinos, Territori Palestinais, Palesitina Wesitibanka na Gaza, Teritoriul Palestinian, Палестинские территории, Sêse tî Palestîni, පලස්තීනය, Palestínske územie, Palestinsko ozemlje, Falastiin Daanka galbeed iyo Qasa, Палестинске територије, Palestinska territoriet, பாலஸ்தீனியன் மாஹாணங்கள், పాలిస్తినియాన్ ప్రాంతం, ปาเลสไตน์, Potu Palesitaine, Filistin Bölgesi, Палестина, فلسطینی خطے, Lãnh thổ Palestine, Orílẹ́ède Iwọorun Pakisitian ati Gaṣa, 巴勒斯坦领土, i-Palestinian Territories

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