Easter is one of the most important holidays to celebrate within Christianity. This year, the Easter weekend is also falling at the same time as Passover.
Reflecting over this weekend, I think back to a trip I took a few years ago to Israel. Although based in sunny Tel Aviv, I had the chance to travel to Jerusalem a couple of times. On one of the days I travelled to Jerusalem, I joined a small group of people to explore the Old City. We had the opportunity to walk the Via Dolorosa and Stations of the Cross, believed to be the ancient path that Jesus walked on his way towards the crucifixion. Whether you are religious or interested in history, this is a fascinating, educational, and moving experience. I would recommend doing it early in the day to avoid crowds as much as possible - particularly at its culmination at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Within the Church, there is the Rock of Cavalry or Golgotha, believed to be the site of the crucifixion. It's not hard not to be drawn in to the many emotions and energy flowing through this altar area, with the opportunity to kneel at the site of the cross and say a prayer, touch the ground, and light a candle. The altar is tremendously ornate and gilded in gold, and overlooks the rest of the church. As a note, there are some steep, narrow steps to climb to ascend to the altar.
Back on the ground floor of the Church, there is a marble slab believed to cover the place where the body of Jesus was placed after being taken off the cross. Many worshippers kneel and pray here, placing their hands and various objects on the marble. It is a fascinating scene to behold.
After exiting the Church, there is a courtyard. I took the time to sit down and take in the scene in front of me - tourists, pilgrims, devotees...there was such an interesting mix of people coming to experience this site.
I have thought of this unique travel experience since then over the past few Easters due to its significance to Christianity, in particular. If you are visiting Jerusalem, I would highly recommend exploring the Old City of Jerusalem and each of its fascinating quarters. The Via Dolorosa, Stations of the Cross, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre can be found in the Christian Quarter.