The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Two

Hagia Sophia remains one of the most amazing buildings in the world, and in its day it was an unparalleled building in terms of the amount of open domed space without columns in the center of the building. Here it is, with its later minarets still showing, from across the way near the Blue Mosque, a nice spot for a family shot.It was Constantine who built the original Hagia Sophia on the site of a former temple of Venus. It was damaged in an earthquake in the sixth century and rebuilt … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part One

Touring Turkey after touring Israel is like touring Texas after touring Rhode Island. The difference in size, scope, and amount of things to see is enormous. So in Turkey one has to settle for a small sampler, a Whitman's sampler so to speak, with all kinds of Turkish delights. I suggest you sit back in your easy chair with your laptop, get a good cup of coffee, and prepare to be surprised by what amazing things there are to see and do and be edified by in Turkey. Let ole Uncle Ben be your … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twenty Five

The city of David is nicely depicted in the picture above--- showing how it is south of the Temple Mount. You can also see in the picture the now famous underground walkway from the pool of Siloam at the bottom of the picture all the way up to the Temple Mount itself. It was once a street above ground as shown in this recreation drawing.Here's what it looks like today---It is that area between the Temple Mount and the bottom of the Kidron valley where it meets the Hinnom valley at … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twenty Four

The usual day walk through the old city of Jerusalem can be long, hot and tiring, so it's important to take breaks along the way, and enjoy something to eat, and maybe an antiquities shop or two...All I can say is that the original widow would be a might surprised at that advertisement. Here's the entrance to one of the antiquities shops....it's hard to get past the door.After passing some of the Muslim cemetery found on the northern and eastern walls of the city we began our … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twenty Three

A visit to Bethlehem necessarily involves stops at: 1) Shepherd's fields; 2) the Church of the Nativity and the adjacent modern church with Jerome's grotto; and 3) of course the olive wood shops, in this case, the best one near the Church of the Nativity called the Three Arches.Shepherd's fields reminds us that Bethlehem was the staging ground for the raising of the lambs, to be slaughtered at the temple in Jerusalem. Thus while the scenery is bucolic, it ends badly for the lambs. They … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel, Part Twenty Two

We moved on from Jerusalem briefly to Bethlehem, starting at the back side of Bethlehem at the Herodium, one of Herod's many get away places, in case someone was after him. This excavation has really seen some development over the last ten years, including the likely discover of Herod's own tomb. But it has also been an ill-fated excavation, as Ehud Netzer, the famous archaeologist who dug the site, and publicized in 2007 that he had found Herod's tomb, died at the site in 2010 at age 76, from … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel, Part Twenty One

Like most tours of the city of Jerusalem, we started at the top of the Mt. of Olives, because of course, that's where the vendors take the pictures of a group with the Dome of the Rock and the old city lurching in the background. It is a nice view from in front of the Seven Arches Hotel (a sad old place at this point), but the shots taken from lower down the hill at the chapel known as Dominus Flevit (the Lord wept) are just as grand, and closer to the old city as well. Check out these … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twenty

On the way up to Jerusalem, we passed through Jericho briefly, long enough to see a giant Sycamore tree (not old enough to be climbed by Zaccheus, but you get the mental image),We then went up the old Roman road to Wadi Quelt, a wadi is a dry river bed, and in this case we are talking about a deep ravine into the wall of which was built St. George's monastery.....It's one of my favorite places to be at sunrise or sunset, just across the ravine from the monastery, on a hill overlooking it. … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Nineteen

What would a trip to the Dead Sea be without a dip in the Dead Sea, perhaps with the help of a coat of protective mud....So you run into the mud people...Our Yuliya decided just to dip her toes into the chemical bath which is the Dea Sea (honestly its rather slimy and requires a quick shower. It's good point--- you can't sink). It was also about 100 degrees, not surprising at the lowest point on earth.If the Dead Sea is not your cup of tea (and I hope it isn't-- you can't … [Read more...]