Notre Dame is in an
incomparable location: Inthe heart of Jerusalem”.
Many of the Holy Places in Jerusalem are
within, or very close to, the Old City, which is completely enclosed
by a wall that is more or less rectangular in shape. In order to
have an idea of the proximity of these Holy Places, one can walk around
this wall and return to Notre Dame within about one hour.
like to present to you the Holy Places that are close and easy to reach
from the notre Dame center in the order of distance from the
5-10 MINUTES WALK FROM
NOTRE DAME CENTER (NDC):
The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre
10 minutes by foot from the Notre Dame Center. One only has to cross the
road, pass through New Gate and then continue through the
Christian Quarter towards the center of the Old City. Surveying the Old
City from the roof of Notre Dame, one realizes that, as the crow flies,
the Holy Sepulchre is no more than about 200 metres away.
The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre can justly be considered
the most holy place in the whole world. This place witnessed the anguish
of the Cross, the agony and death of Jesus, the anointing of his body and
his burial. But even more importantly, this is the ground that witnessed
his glorious Resurrection and subsequent appearance to the holy women. The
four last stations of the Cross are prayed within the Holy Sepulchre, since
these events all took place within its confines. It is therefore the
terminus of the Via Dolorosa.
Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre has, for centuries, been maintained by
monks and friars of various Christian denominations: the main custodians
for the Catholics have been the Franciscans, and for the Orthodox, the
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
10-15 MINUTES WALK FROM THE
1. The Via
Dolorosa crosses the Old City from East to West, parallel to the
northern wall of the Old City – the one that faces Notre Dame
– and traces the path that Jesus took, carrying the cross, on his
way to Calvary. The start of the Via Dolorosa is about 18-20 minutes walk
from Notre Dame. These days one can follow the route that bears this name.
The stations of the cross are signposted (many have chapels), and recall
each of the salient moments in our Lord’s Passion. Perhaps the most
outstanding of these ‘stations’ are the first and the second,
situated in the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation and next-door in
the Church of the ‘Ecce Homo’ respectively. The Church of
‘Ecce Homo’ is under the care of the Sisters of Zion and
recalls Pontius Pilate’s condemnation of Jesus, whilst taking
his seat on the ‘Lithostrotos’.
2. The Western Wall and the Temple
You reach them by entering
into the Old City through the Damaskus Gate.
20 MINUTE WALK FROM
It is located south-east of the Old
You reach it from NDC by crossing the road
and entering the Old City by the ‘New Gate’. Then one must go
through the Christian Quarter to Jaffa Gate, and from there through the
Armenian Quarter to exit the Old City through Zion Gate.
Three important Places are located in this area:
1- The cenacle: Place
in which Christ celebrated the Last Supper, in which Christ apeared
several times to his apostles after the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit came
down in Pentecost and the place of gathering of the first Christian
community. Unfortunately this place is not under Christian custody, but
under Israely authority; thus it is a place that can be visited, but in
which any religious ceremony is forbidden. For this reason the Franciscans
have very close to the Cenacle the so called "Cenacolino", a small Church
in which Mass can be celebrated in memory of the Last
2- The basilica of
the Dormition of Our Lady.
3- The Church of St. Peter
Church is built on the place in which, in the times of Jesus, it is
believed to have been the Palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. To this
place Christ was brought after his agony in the Garden of Gethsemany by
the soldiers who took him prisoner. It is the place in which Peter denied
whim (this gives the Church its name), where Christ was judged by the
Sanhedrin and where he spent the night of Holy Thursday in the pit,
humiliated and mistreated by the servants of the high priest.
PLACES OF QUICK ACCESS BY CAR:
The Mount of Olives: It
is located Northeast and outside of the walls of the Old City,
crossing the Kydron-Valley.
different Places that can be visitted in this area, going up from
Gethsemany, are the following:
Church of the Gethsemane with its Garden. Very close is the
"Treason grotto" or "grotto of the apostles" and the Orthodox Church of
the Tomb of Mary.
- Dominus Flevit
(Church which commemorates the moment when Jesus wept over Jerusalem and
predicted its destruction)
- Pater Noster
(Church and grotto in which, according to tradition, Christ taught his
disciples the prayer of the Our Father)
Ascension (this place was transformed into a muslim mosque, but it is
opened to visitors)
- Betfagé, place in
which Christ started his tirumphant entree into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
- Panoramic view over Jerusalem: Between the
Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit, there is a parking-place from which you
have a beautiful view over the city of
In addition to the Holy Places that are most significant for
Christians, there are also those that are important for the Judaic and
Islamic religions, the main ones being the Wailing Wall, the only
surviving remnant of the ancient Jerusalem temple and venerated by the
Jews, and above this the Haram Esh-Sharif (including the Dome of the Rock
and the Al Aksa Mosque), which is the third most important place in the
Islamic world. These two sites, together with the Holy Sepulchre, make
Jerusalem the “Holy City” so loved by the faithful of all
these three monotheistic religions. All of these sites can be visited
easily by foot from Notre Dame.
To finish this
description of Notre Dame and the Holy Places, it is important to mention
that the roof of the Notre Dame Center has a unique panoramic view of
Jerusalem. From here, it is possible to survey the whole of the Old City,
the Mount of Olives, Mount Scopus, as well as the entire eastern part of
Jerusalem. On clear days the view extends to the northern part of the
Judean desert and the mountains of Jordan rising above the Dead Sea.
Notre Dame is also very well
situated with respect to the main roads, making it an ideal departure
point for visiting the Holy Sites in the surrounding area. Bethlehem is
only 5 miles from Notre Dame (15 minutes by bus), Jericho is 19
miles away (30 minutes by bus), Ein Karem, the place of the visitation of
Mary to St. Elizabeth, is 8 miles from the Center (30 minutes,
because one has to cross the breadth of the new City), Emmaus is 9
miles away and easily reached by car in a few minutes. Finally, Bethany
and Bethphage are only 3 miles from Notre Dame and can be reached by
car in merely 10 minutes.