The Way of Sorrows
If you have seen "The Last Passion of the Cross" or any of dozens of other commercial or religious movies about the life, especially the last few days, of Jesus the Christ or Issa, the Via Dolorosa may be a surprise to you. The modern street, in two parts, within the Old City of Jerusalem, is thought to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying His cross, on the way to His crucifixion, and ultimately, His bodily resurrection from the dead three days later. The winding route is from the Antonia Fortress westward to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is today marked by nine Stations of the Cross, which can be hard to find if you are on your own. There have been fourteen stations since the late 15th century, with the remaining five stations being inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
For the most part, the street is probably not an appropriate way to describe the Via Dolorosa. It is not navigable by car and is mostly a very commercially crowded, covered walkway.. If you are a person of faith, a student of Middle Eastern history, a shopper, or a people watcher, it is well worth the effort to try to walk this path.
Via crucis or via dolorosa as it is called in Jerusalem is the road that christians believe Jesus walked carrying the cross up to the golgotha before being crucifixed.
The road starts at lions gate but it is a few minuts walk away from damascus gate if you are entering there, then it passes through the muslim quarter and leads to the church of holy sepulcher.
It is marked by 14 stations which indicate events during the journey.
Via Dolorosa (way of suffering ) is the most popular street inside the Old City, especially among the Christian pilgrims that follow the winding route because this was the path that Jesus Christ walked on the way to his crucifixion. There were different routes since the byzantine time but today’s route is the same since 18th century.
We entered from Lions Gate, it was quiet there, Lions Gate street becomes Via Dolorosa after 100meters so we just followed Via Dolorosa on our way to the church of the Sepulchre. But after a while hordes of tourist groups packed every inch of the street while the numerous stores and the fact there were cars passing through didn’t help to feel something atmospheric around. Wear good walking shoes because Old City has more to offer anyway.
Via Dolorosa is no more than 600meters ending at Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There are 14 stations of the Cross along the way with only 9 of them marked on the street while some others supposed to be inside the church of the Holy Sepulchre (it was so busy inside that I didn’t notice any of them). In most of them we noticed a sign on the wall with the number of the station written in roman numerals although they easy to be missed. Some of the stations/buildings are more interesting than others while other just have an interesting part of the story to tell.
I guess the experience must be different if you do it during a religious ceremony as we didn’t feel comfortable with hundreds of other tourists just wander around focusing more on the souvenir stores than anything else but the thing is that most people seemed to be in a hurry, come on, there’s so much to see/do here and so little time… let’s enjoy it at least :)
the 14th Station of the Cross and the final and most important location in Christianity is located in the Center of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Main Greek Orthodox Basilica Part of the Complex, the AEDICULE. The Aedicule is located in a small rotunda in the Central Part of the Church and since we were at Jerusalem during Orthodox Holy Week, it took nearly 2 hours to go into the Aediucle and only 5 seconds to touch, wipe your handkerchief and take picture and videos of the biblical Burial Site of Jesus Christ inside the Aedicule. The aedicule consists of two chambers, the Bigger Chapel of the Angel and the very small chamber with a granite stone adorned with incense and flowers and religious items, which is the spot of the Burial Site of Jesus.
Station 13 of the via Dolorosa lies just after the Main Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Stone of Anointing. After going down the steep flight of stairs from the second floor where the 12th and 13th stations are located, the 13th Station is at the Stone of Anoinint (unction) where there are lots of pilgrims who pray, kiss and wipe their handkerchiefs and shawls at the stone of Anointing. Above the Stone are different lamps with assorted incensce representing the different Christian Denominations Present at the Holy Sepulchre Church. According to tradition, the body of Jesus was laid on this stone after removed from the cross. As per John 19: 40: "Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury".
the 12th station of the cross in Via Dolorosa is located just beside the 11th station on the flight of stairs going to the second floor. The Greek Orthodox Calvary where the biblical Rock of Golgotha is located beside the franciscan altar. The Greek Calvary has a crucifixion altar and in front of the altar is a small silver disk with a central hole, with a small granite roof table which marks the exact spot where the Cross where Jesus was crucified Stood. Christian Pilgrims like us kneel at the exact spot under the granite roof tabel and the greek orthodox monks only allow a few seconds per pilgrim to touch the spot and take pictures.
the 11th to 14th stations lies inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, lying just a few meters waya from each other. The 11th Station where Jesus Christ was Crucified and the Biblical Location of Golgotha or Skull Hill is located at the right side of the Church just after entering the main entrance, along a steep flight of stairs going atop the second floor (Biblical Golgotha) into the Franciscan Altar depicting the Nailing of the Cross and nearby Station 12. The Evangelical Christians and Some Mainline Protestant Churches have a different site for the Biblical Golgotha, located far from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
it was packed full of people as we were there during the Orthodox Holy week, which follows the older Julian Calendar (1 month after the Roman Catholic Holy week, which follows the mordern Gregorian Calendar). Our Catholic Holy week in 2013 started from March 24 to 31, 2013 and theirs were on April 28 to May 5, 2013.
again the Stations from 10 to 14 is located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Complex. The 10th station where Jesus is stripped of his clothes is located near the main entrance to the Church at the Right Side is a small Chapel with steep stairs and a closed door, which is called the Chapel of the Franks, the chapel is always closed but you can pray at the stairs and even have your group picture taken like us.
the Ninth Station is located a stone's throw away from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Stations 10-14 of the Via Dolorosa is located. The Marker of the Ninth Station is at the Entrance of the Coptic Patriarchate in Jerusalem, beside the Wall of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Located just a few meters at the End of the Souk Khan Al Ziet and up 28 steps leads to the Station and The station is marked by a cross on an ancient roman pillar where Jesus Fells for the Third Time. There is also an access route at the Stairs of the Coptic Church going to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (I will have separate tips on the Coptic Church).
the eighth Station of the Cross lies just a few meters from the Seventh Station, again at the busy Souk of Khal Al Zeit (oil market) and lies across the market street and up the steps of Aqabat al-Khanqah, opposite the Station VIII Souvenir Bazaar of the Souk. A stone with a monogram, embedded into the wall, marks the Eight Station ("IC-XC NI-KA", means: Jesus Christ conquers). The Marker is on the wall of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Charalambos mark the place where Jesus consoled the lamenting women of Jerusalem (Lk 23:27-31). The Station lies near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
the Seventh Station of the Cross is located in a busy Souk in the Muslim Quarter, called Souq Khan al-Zeit, which is part of the remains of the Cardo Maximus of Jerusalem and the street facing the Station can Be Crowded. The 7th Station marker is located inside the Franciscan Chapel which is closed and you can only pray outside at the marker. The station marks where Jesus falls for the second time and also marks the place where Jesus passed through the Gate of Judgment, along the streets of Jerusalem. Again, the 7th station is located along Via Dolorosa intersecting with Khan al-Zeit (the Oil Market).
Station 6 of the Via Dolorosa is going uphill along the souks of the Old City and the Marker is located in a busy souk and there is a wooden door above the marker. This station is near the Ruins of the Cardo Maximus of Jerusalem and beside the busy souk of one of the cardo maximum's pillars. This is where St. Veronica wiped Jesus' face with her handkerchief, leaving an image of his face imprinted on the cloth. The relic, known as the Sudarium or Veronica, is kept at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Veronica's name may derive from the Latin vera icon, "true image."