JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

KURSI NATIONAL PARK. Kursi is the traditional site of the 'Miracle of Swine' where Jesus excorsised a man tormented with devils, and transferred the evil spirits to a herd of pigs.

"8:26 And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. 8:27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in [any] house, but in the tombs. 8:28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, [thou] Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. 8:29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness). 8:30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. 8:31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. 8:32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. 8:33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. 8:34 When they that fed [them] saw what was done, they fled, and went and told [it] in the city and in the country. 8:35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 8:36 They also which saw [it] told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. 8:37 Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again " (Luke 8:26-37). See also Mathew 8:28-33; Mark 5:1-20.

'Parts of Golan Heights' near the Kursi National Park



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Entering Kursi National Park. Remains of Kursi were discovered accidentally in 1970 after the Six Day War, when Israelis were making a road along the eastern shores of 'Sea of Galilee'.







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The Byzantine (5th-6th Cent. AD) Monastery-Basilica of Kursi. The largest known Byzantine monastery (123 X 145 M) in Israel. Kursi National Park.





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The Byzantine (5th-6th Cent. AD) Monastery/Basilica of Kursi Contd.; Kursi National Park. The 5th Cent. monastery was severely destroyed by Persians in 614 AD and later by an earthquake and fire in 8th Cent. AD, never to be used as a worshipping place.




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The Byzantine (5th-6th Cent. AD) Monastery-Basilica of Kursi Contd.; Kursi National Park. The main hall of the basilica is divided by 2 rows of 8 columns into a nave and 2 side aisles.




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The Atrium (Front Yard) of Byzantine (5th Cent. AD) Monastery/Basilica of Kursi; Kursi National Park.


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The Chapel in the Southern Side of the Byzantine Basilica of Kursi (5th-6th Cent. AD).-Kursi National Park.


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Mosaics from the Byzantine Monastery of Kursi (5th-6th Cent. AD).-Kursi National Park.


 

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Mosaics from the Byzantine Monastery of Kursi (5th-6th Cent. AD) Contd.-Kursi National Park. During the 9th Cent. AD Kursi was used as residential and storage area by Arabs; See that the shapes of animal and human forms are almost obliterated in the mosaics: assumed to be from the strong Islamic sentiments against icons.




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Mosaics from the Byzantine Monastery of Kursi (5th-6th Cent. AD) Contd.-Kursi National Park.




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Mosaics from the Byzantine Monastery of Kursi (5th-6th Cent. AD) Contd.-Kursi National Park.




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