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.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
44) The three hidden pearls of Armenian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem that are extremely difficult to access for tourists. 1-Chapel of St. Vartan (Church of Holy Sepulcher); 2- Burial places of 'St. James the Great' & 'St. James the Less' (St. James Cathedral); 3- House of Caiaphas or Armenian Church of St. Saviour (Mount Zion).
However, the most important relic in the chapel is an inscription and a drawing of a merchant boat on a stone (25 x 12 inches) by a Christian pilgrim made either before Constantine built the Church (ca. 330 AD) or when it was under construction. Excavated in 1971, this stone carving is perhaps the earliest known Christian art discovered from the Holy Land (some even propose a 2nd century AD date to the drawing). The inscription in Latin is generally read as ' DOMINE IVIMUS' or 'Lord, we will go', believed to be a version of Psalms 122:1. An alternate version is 'DD M NOMINUS' or 'the gift of Marcus Nominus'. I couldn't access the Chapel and hence photos are only from the closed entrance. You can read this interesting link and learn how difficult it is to access the chapel.
St. James the Less on the other hand is identified as either the apostle James, the son of Alphaeus (Mark 15:40) or the 'brother of the Lord, (Acts 9:27; Gal 1:19), the first bishop of Jerusalem. He is also known as 'St. James the Just'.
Although the present Cathedral is from 12th-13th century, it was built over an earlier 6th century Byzantine Church. Despite being one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Jerusalem, St. James is not generally open to tourists outside the Armenian community. You can visit the cathedral only when the prayers are held and during the service it is advised to behave more like a worshiper than a tourist. Photography is also not promoted and many of the interesting sites are not accessible. Most of the photographs below were taken immediately after the service finished and before the cathedral was closed to public. I had to really rush and click these photos before the cathedral was closed after the prayers.