When we went to the old City, we went through the Jaffa Gate and came out at the Dung Gate.
Other attractions included the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Before going in, we had to remove our shoes and leave everything outside, and we also had to wear dresses. This Mosque can be identified by its black dome.
Next to this Mosque is the Dome of the Rock, which is sacred to the Muslims as the third place of pilgrimage after Mecca and Medina.
It is sacred to the Jews as the site where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac. Here also stood Solomon's Temple where no trace remains.
As we continued our tour we left the Sea of Galilee and drove to Jerusalem and stayed five days and nights.
We saw the Church of St. Anne where tradition assigned the birth of Mary; the Holy Sepulcher, which is the most sacred site to Orthodox Christianity; The Hill called Golgotha, which means skull; the House of the Last Supper, which escaped the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus; Gethsemane which was beautiful with its old gnarled olive trees which are considered to be direct descendants of trees that grew there in Jesus' time.
Lastly, we saw Qumran on the shore of the Dead Sea where the Essenes, a sect of people who stored the Dead Sea scrolls in surrounding caves.
In 1947, some Bedouin shepherds found seven ancient scrolls in a local cave. The caves were then excavated by a team of French archaeologists who found many additional scrolls and early structures that supported the theory that Qumran had indeed been the nucleus of Essene activity.
The findings included every book of the Old Testament except the Book of Esther. Some of these scrolls are on display at the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum. We saw the original book of Isaiah there.
Continuing on, we took a tram to the top of Masada which was very spectacular. It was built over 2,000 years ago by King Herod. Here the Jewish defenders, including women and children, slew themselves and their families rather than surrender to Roman legions.
We went through the Judean Desert to Jericho, a beautiful oasis and the oldest city in the world. We also saw the Mount of Temptation near Jericho and the Dead Sea where people were on the shore and swimming. Several from our group tried it. We were told to stay only a few minutes so I just stuck my big toe in. They had sprinklers to rinse yourself off to remove the salt.
Our trip was almost over, but we did see a few more things including a Crusader Castle, more excavations and more mountains to climb.
After supper that night, everyone went to bed early and we had no trouble sleeping as we were too tired from all the physical activity during the day.
It was finally time to leave the Holy Land. We flew out of Tel Aviv to Amsterdam where we spent two days seeing lovely old buildings, beautiful countryside, many canals, windmills, a wooden shoe factory and the flower auction. It was then time to fly back to Minneapolis and on home to good ole Wisconsin.