Your first stop on Mount Olives is the Church of the Ascension. The remains of the original rotunda built around the rock from which Jesus is believed to have ascended to heaven and the later Crusader octagonal church and dome are now in the courtyard of a mosque. At nearby Pater Noster, a Crusader cloister and grotto commemorating where Jesus preached the Lord’s Prayer, you will see those same words in one hundred and twenty-three languages.
Before beginning your walk down Mount Olives, you will stop for a breathtaking view of Jerusalem, standing above the ancient Jewish cemetery. Halfway down the mount, you will stop at Dominus Flevit where Jesus wept as he foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem. Designed by Antonio Berluzzi, the windows behind the altar of this small church draw your eyes to the Temple Mount where the Second Temple stood in the time of Jesus. At the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane, you will recall Jesus praying with the disciples until his betrayal by Judas.
Crossing the Kidron Valley (the valley of Jehoshaphat) we enter the Old City through Lion’s gate and visit the pools of Bethesda at the Church of St. Anne stopping to enjoy the wonderful acoustics in the austere Crusader church. In the cellars of the convent of the Sisters of Zion, you will see a Second Temple water cistern and will marvel at the engravings on the paving stones of the ancient street, the Lithostratos. Originally thought to have been the courtyard of the Praetorium where Pontius Pilate presided this is now dated to the second century together with the Ecce Homo arch built by Hadrian. From there, you will set out along the Via Dolorosa retracing the route Jesus took as he carried his cross towards his crucifixion.