Israel Day 6: Jerusalem

From the tunnels beneath the Old City …

I’m claustrophobic. It’s important to begin today’s blog with this admission. Read on for why.

We start the day down in the City of David Water Systems. This 1,553 meter tunnel was the source of water for the Old City. We descend a series of stairs to get to the tunnel, then wade through knee-deep water while crouching beneath the low tunnel ceiling. In complete darkness. With shoulder-wide walls. For over a mile. And again, I’m claustrophobic.

It’s an engineering marvel. Carved through solid stone by two crews working from opposite ends of the tunnel and somehow meeting in the middle, hundreds of feet below the city.

Heading down to the Water Systems

But we’re not done with tunnels. Next we go underneath the Western Wall exploring the tunnels that reveal the foundations of the Old City.

Back above ground we walk the Stations of the Cross on Via Dolorosa … the path Jesus carried the cross to the Crucifixion. Then we walked the grounds of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the through the Ethiopian Chapel of the church.

Via Dolorosa

Lunch is shawarma sandwiches in the Old City Bazaar followed by shopping in the market and sampling some of the bazaar’s hummus.

The view from above the Old City Bazaar

After lunch we are back at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – this time to see the location of the Crucifixion, the stone where Christ’s body was prepared for burial, and Christ’s tomb.

Sunlight streaming through the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

We walk through the Old City to get back to the Western wall where we started earlier this morning. The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is the holiest place in all of Judaism. It’s late in the day but many people are still praying at the wall. While we are there evening prayers are heard through the Old City, and a reminder of the intersection in this city of the major world religions.

The Western Wall

Tomorrow we explore more of Jerusalem before heading out into the desert.

20 Comments on “Israel Day 6: Jerusalem

  1. Michael, this was an excellent journal of our journey today. Thanks!

  2. Michael- Thank you so much for reminding all of us exhausted travelers what we actually did today! Beautiful photos, as always.

  3. Thanks for capturing this amazing adventure, Michael! I really enjoy the end of day when we all get to compare notes our experiences.

    • Thanks, Shannon! I enjoy comparing notes as well. There are always details I forget and it’s helpful to have some input!!

    • Erin – this reminds me that the water was also cold! So the tunnel was long, dark, narrow, wet, and cold. But I’ll be okay 🙂

  4. I have no idea how you survived that mile. I couldn’t have done it!

  5. I take my hat off to you for your “tunnel braveness.” Wow! What a fabulous trip. Not for the faint of heart. Love, Mom

    • Thanks, Mom! Really enjoying this trip and thankfully not everything we do requires the same degree of ‘tunnel braveness!’

  6. I know of that water tunnel from my biblical archiology readings.
    I am always amazed at the amazing engineering accomplished in ancient day
    Just look at those huge stone blocks on the old wall so well fit together.
    And you showed us similar amazing stone work in South America some time ago.
    Today we are so reliant on mega-machines and computer guidance.
    If the oil and electricity run out we are in trouble!

    • Mike – Learning more about the construction of the tunnel is on my post-trip to do list!

  7. I started panicking just reading about the tunnels. I don’t know that I would have made it. But this looked like a very special day, and as always beautiful photos.

    • This day in Jerusalem was one of those days that make you want to do more research when you get home. I didn’t know about the tunnel before the trip and it wasn’t on our itinerary. I’m confident you would have made it through and would be as intrigued as I am about how they were constructed.

  8. Did you tell me once in an elevator you were claustrophobic? Your comment: “So the tunnel was long, dark, narrow, wet, and cold” just made it seem worse but even more real. Even in your moment, you focused and got your shots! Well done!!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Mitsi. It would have been a very small elevator to make me feel claustrophobic, so I’m not sure about that! One more note about the tunnel … the way you navigate through it is to literally bounce off the walls. Every so often the tunnel changed direction and when your arms hit one side or the other you knew it was time to shift direction. Glad I took my watch off for this!

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