Your day begins at the Mount of Olives with a breathtaking panoramic view over Jerusalem then you continue on to the Byzantine Cardo, an ancient main road that runs through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. You take a look at the Wailing Wall (Kotel) and then follow the sacred route Jesus took carrying his cross along the Way of Sorrows (Via Dolorosa). You will stop as several of the Stations of the Cross and reach the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was crucified and where his burial tomb is located. You take a stroll through the bazaars of the Christian and Moslem Quarters and then depart Jerusalem and make our way to Bethlehem.
In Bethlehem, your main focus is the Church of the Nativity where Jesus was born. Your journey begins at the Mount of Olives overlooking the ancient Jewish cemetery where it is believed that the resurrection will begin when the Messiah comes (Zech 14:4). From this elevated location, you can see across the Old City and down to Temple Mount where the Holy Jewish Temple once stood. You will continue on towards the Zion Gate by driving passed the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations, and the Kidron Valley where you will see the Jewish burial tombs of Absalom, King David's son; Jehoshaphat and the Hezir family (benei Hazir). At the Zion Gate, you enter Jerusalem's Old City and make our way through the Armenian Quarter. Then you follow the 1500-year-old excavated Byzantine Cardo which has been restored and is now home to modern shops which line a section of the ancient road.
You carry on through the Jewish Quarter and on to the Western Wall which was part of the outer walls of the Holy Jewish Temple that stood on Temple Mount almost 2,000 years ago. You can then walk where Jesus once walked the Way of Sorrows along the Via Dolorosa, as thousands of pilgrims do each year. You will stop at several of the Stations of the Cross where Jesus stopped briefly as he carried his cross to Golgotha (Calvary). The final station on the Way of Sorrows is at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where Christ was crucified and where his burial tomb is located. The Basilica was constructed during the Byzantine Era and underwent renovations and reconstruction over the years. Before you leave the Old City, you will meander through the typically Middle Eastern markets and then set off for Bethlehem, the city of Christ's birth. You arrive in the City of Bread, Bethlehem, which was home to Jesse, King David's father as well as being Christ's birthplace (Matthew 2:1). From Manger Square, you will visit the 4th century Church of the Nativity which is the oldest church in Israel still in use. Beneath the church is the Grotto of the Nativity where a star indicates the place where Jesus was born. Also in the Orthodox Church is an altar dedicated to the Three Wise Men. This is the place where the well-known story of Christmas night took place and a visit here is a moving experience for all Christians. The Church of the Nativity was neglected for centuries following the expulsion of the Crusaders and was also damaged by an earthquake and fire. However, during the British Mandate and more recently under Israeli authority, the church has been restored and repaired.
On the way out of the church, you will see the Armenian Chapel of the Kings or Magi and you visit the Crusader Church. From the Church of St. Catherine you go down into a two-room cave that connects with the Grotto of the Nativity. It was here that Saint Jerome spent 30 years translating the Hebrew Bible into the Latin version called The Vulgate. This is the perfect place for us to take a moment and sing some Christmas carols. In Luke 2:8-11, you read of an angel appearing to shepherds who were tending their sheep in a nearby field. You will stop to see Shepherds Field and the contemporary Church of the Angels designed by Antonio Berluzzi with panels retelling the story of Jesus' early life. On our way back towards Jerusalem you pass the Field of Ruth. Here Ruth, King David's great grandmother worked in the fields of Boaz. (Ruth 2:1).