We start with a breathtaking view of Jerusalem, as if in the palm of our hand, we see the Old City and the Temple Mount area spread before us and imagine the Second Temple destroyed in 70 CE and Solomon’s Temple before that, destroyed in 586 BCE.

As we drive along the Kidron valley towards the Zion gate we have an excellent view of Mount Olives and the Jewish cemetery, in constant use over two thousand years. At its base are the ancient burial tombs Yad Avshalom, Beni Hazir and that perhaps of Zechariah. Alongside are the garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations.

We enter the Old City through the Zion gate on our way to the excavated Byzantine Cardo. Although this fifteen hundred year old main street of Jerusalem was partially destroyed and unused during the Moslem conquest it had a brief new lease of life during the Crusader period and the excavated Crusader shops are now modern stores.

Continuing through the Jewish quarter we marvel at the excavated and exposed foundation of the two thousand seven hundred year old wall of biblical Jerusalem built by King Hezekiah (Is 22:10). After exploring the Herodian Mansion, we descend a few meters and find ourselves in a two thousand year old complex of homes with the original mosaic floors and mikveh.

Our visit to the southern excavations a few meters from the Dung Gate enables us to see and not just imagine the stones and columns tossed down to the pavement below as the Romans destroyed the Temple and all that was on the Temple Mount. We sit on the original steps leading up to the Temple Mount, the steps used by the majority of Jewish pilgrims flocking to the Temple on the festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks) and Sukkot (Booths).

A brief stop at the Kotel, the Western Wall allows us to place a note between its stones. This two thousand year old wall is part of the encircling and supporting wall built by King Herod when the Temple Mount area was enlarged.

Dependent on availability we will either visit the Western Wall tunnels or the Citadel Museum at Jaffa Gate.