Today the geography of the City of Jerusalem came alive to us. The day was warm and bright, without any of the usual haze, and we wonderful views out over the city as we toured around the hills (known here as Mounts) that surround the City, and look gently down on it.
You can't help but gaze at the enormous Temple Mount, surmounted by the dazzling golden dome of the Islamic Dome of the Rock. This is of course one of the most fought over and sought after pieces of real estate in the world, and over three millennia has seen two different Jewish temples including their Holy of Holies, Roman desecration and destruction and new temples and a fort, and a Muslim mosque, schools and monuments.
The one thing it's surprisingly never had is a Christian Church. Perhaps wisely, when the possibility came soon after the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, it was resisted. The Temple Mount was left clear at that time, continuing to eloquently show the confirmation of Jesus' prophecy that the most magnificent (Second) Jewish Temple would soon be demolished. Instead, the Church of the Resurrection instead was built at the site of the quarry, where the cave tombs were found.
We viewed the Old City from N, S, E and W, including the famous Mount of Olives. At the end of the course we'll be following the path of Jesus's last night from there to the authorities in the city, and there to Golgotha. But, as I hoped, some of the gospel narrative already makes more sense now I've seen the hills and valleys, and where the city gates and forts and official buildings were. A great day. And a Happy New Year!