As long as Christian pilgrims have been traveling and visiting the Holy City of Jerusalem, they have been walking where Jesus walked along the last path on the “Via Dolorosa,” and for the last 1,000 years it is the exact path that is walked today in the Old City. With time, sacred past stories became revered landmarks – known today as the Stations of the Cross.
In the Old City a new experience, you will find the streets an organized chaos of noise – with store owners and vendors competing for your attention calling out their prices and displaying their goods on your travel tour to the holy land. Narrow stone roads and stone building on each side, make this a unique experience of different smells, colors, and sounds. Many Christian tourists are many times surprised to learn that this is nothing new, and it is in fact exactly what Jesus would have experienced when walking these streets on any given Friday.
It was here in the Via Dolorosa on Passover week; where the Romans forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross (Mark 15:21). There are fourteen traditional stations marked. The first is the Praetorium, where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus and Jesus took up the cross (Mark 15:15), and where now you will find a convent. In the basement you will find flagstones, known as Gabata (John 19:13), stone pavements. Beneath this pavement is a large water cistern built by Herod the Great, which could have quenched the thirsty Roman soldiers who taunted Jesus (Matt. 27: 27-31).
Christian visitors on their holy land tours find the Stations of the Cross only modestly marked. Continuing after the Praetorium you will find station three, where Jesus fell with his cross; which mentioned in the new testament this recurred two more times. In the fourth station is where Simon takes up the cross. At every station and it’s individual story; Jesus meets Mary and a women of Jerusalem whom wipes the sweat of Jesus face, Jesus speaks of this women from Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-30), and on to the last stations the crucifixion and burial, located in the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Via Dolorosa provides a unique atmosphere and experience in Old Jerusalem, and it’s always a popular visit on your holy land tour.