Walking the Via Dolorosa - Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Israel

Jerusalem Walking Tour Photos

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Via Dolorosa Signs

Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Signs on the Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Pilgrims have retraced the steps of the Crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem, Israel since before the 8th Century. The Stations of the Cross are stops that commemorate events during the torture, sentencing, carrying of the cross, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus.

The route is established by tradition rather than archaeological evidence. The final stations of the crucifixion and burial are within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The route is in the old city of Jerusalem. Walkers should wear sturdy and comfortable shoes when touring Jerusalem. The surface is rough cobblestones with steps.

The route of the Via Dolorosa is about a half mile long, just under one kilometer.

A close-up view of the plaque and signage for the fifth Station of the Cross in Jerusalem.

The Stations of the Cross are marked with plaques with Roman numerals and the streets are signed with "Via Dolorosa" along the traditional route that Jesus walked from his condemnation to execution by crucifixion.

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Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation - Via Dolorosa

Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

At the first station, Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate, scourged and crowned with a crown of thorns.

The current Via Dolorosa is based on tradition rather than archaeological evidence. The Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation at the first station marks the traditional site where Jesus was condemned to death, scourged, mocked by the Roman soldiers and crowned "King of the Jews" with a crown of thorns (John, XIX 1-3).

Current archaeological evidence is that this would have happened instead at Herod's Palace to the southwest.

The doorway to the church has the crown of thorns motif. Silence should be observed if entering the church. A ceremony of the adoration of the Eucharist was taking place when I entered.

Nearby, the second station is when Jesus took up the cross. The Chapel of Condemnation and the Ecce Homo arch mark the location.

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Walking the Via Dolorosa - From Station Two to Three

Stations of the Cross - Between Stations 2 and 3 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Stations of the Cross - Between Stations 2 and 3 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The route between the Ecce Homo Arch and the Station of the Cross is lined with vendors only one side of the street.

While the rest of the Via Dolorosa is congested with vendors and shops on both sides of the street, this area has a wall on one side. We are headed slightly downhill. The faithful may carry a cross themselves to experience the suffering of Jesus on this route to his execution by crucifixion.

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Jesus Meets His Mother - Via Dolorosa

Jesus Meets His Mother - Stations of the Cross Station 4 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Jesus Meets His Mother - Stations of the Cross Station 4 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

At station four, Jesus encounters Mary, his mother, whose grief over the torture and execution of her son is unimaginable.

The Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm is at the site of the fourth station. The bas-relief was carved by the Polish artist Zieliensky.

The encounter between Mary and Jesus is not described in the Bible, but has existed in the popular tradition for many centuries.

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Jesus Falls the First Time - Via Dolorosa

Paving Stones Near Station 3 Jesus Falls the First Time - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jer
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Paving Stones Near Station 3 Jesus Falls the First Time - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Paving stones from the era of Jesus are seen at the site of his first fall while carrying the cross towards his execution site.

The Armenian Catholic Chapel is at the site of the third Station of the Cross. Here the route turns onto a busy street lined with shops on both sides.

The Stations of the Cross now include three falls, but these are traditional only and are not described in the Bible.

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Penitents Carry a Cross on the Via Dolorosa

Penitents Carry Cross - Stations of the Cross Station 3 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Penitents Carry Cross - Stations of the Cross Station 3 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Some of the faithful carry a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa, to better experience the suffering of Jesus on his way to the crucifixion site.

The penitents pass by station five, where Simon of Cyrene was pressed to help Jesus carry the cross up the hill of Golgotha. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) all mention this incident, but the Gospel of John insists that Jesus carried the cross without assistance.

A Franciscan Chapel of Simon of Cyrene marks the spot.

From here, the route would have passed out of the city walls to ascend Golgotha hill. As we continue on the same alleyways, we just have to imagine we are leaving the city.

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Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus - Via Dolorosa

Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus - Stations of the Cross Station 6 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus - Stations of the Cross Station 6 - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

At the sixth Station of the Cross, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus with her veil.

The sixth station is based on a medieval tradition not found the the Bible. Veronica wiped the sweat from the face of Jesus with her silk veil. Tradition says that the face of Jesus was then imprinted on the veil, and it is now kept as a relic in Rome. Her name is composed of the words for "true icon." Church of the Holy Face and Saint Veronica was built here in the 1800's supposedly over the site of her house. 

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Shops Line the Via Dolorosa

Shops - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Shops - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Much of the route is lined with shops on both sides selling souvenir items, food and drink.

Pilgrims can do their souvenir shopping along the Via Dolorosa. Bargaining is expected. The shops generally accept Israeli shekels, US dollars, and Euros. Shopkeepers generally speak English and Hebrew and may speak other European languages.

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Jesus Encounters the Pious Women - Via Dolorosa

Jerusalem - Via Dolorosa - Stations of the Cross - Daughters of Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Daughters of Jerusalem Station 8 - Jerusalem - Via Dolorosa - Stations of the Cross. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The eighth station is recounted only in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 23:28-31). Jesus tells the daughters of Jerusalem to weep for themselves and not for him.

The eighth station is marked by the Greek word Nika (victory) carved in the wall with a cross. It is next to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Charalampus.

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Jesus Falls the Third Time - Via Dolorosa

Station 9 Jesus Falls the Third Time - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Station 9 Jesus Falls the Third Time - Stations of the Cross - Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The final outdoors station is at the entrance to the Ethiopian Orthodox Monastery and the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Anthony.

The falls of Jesus are not described in the gospels. Here the outdoor route ends at these monasteries which actually form the roof over of the Chapel of Saint Helena in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

A Roman column marks the spot. From here, the remaining Stations of the Cross are within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

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Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Via Dolorosa

Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre encloses the crucifixion, death and burial sites of Jesus in Jerusalem.

The Stations of the Cross now leave the Via Dolorosa as the final stations 10-14 are within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Those entering the church should show respect by wearing pants or skirts that cover their knees, and women should wear shirts that cover their shoulders.

This has been the site of the church since the year 326 CE. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, identified the holy sites and he had the church constructed. Helena is said to have discovered the true cross of the crucifixion here, which became the source of relics throughout the Christian world. She also believed she had discovered Jesus's true tomb on the site.

The site is administered by several churches, but nominally belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church.

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Altar of the Crucifixion - Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Altar of the Crucifixion - Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem
Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Altar of the Crucifixion - Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Pilgrims wait in line to enter under the Altar of the Crucifixion to touch the site where Jesus died on the cross.

A narrow stairway leads up the Hill of Cavalry in the church to a line awaiting admittance to the Rock of Cavalry beneath the Altar of the Crucifixion. The faithful wait in line for their turn to touch the site where the cross was erected and Jesus died. For those who don't wish to wait, you can see the rock of Calvary through the glass cases on either side of the altar.

The site is based on tradition and revelation of Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. Modern archaeological evidence would put the site about 66 feet away.

Other Stations of the Cross are commemorated within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

  • Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments
  • Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
  • Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross
  • Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross.
  • Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Lines form to visit the altars of each of these stations. Those who wish to make the pilgrimage to each altar should start early in the day within the church.

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Walking the Via Dolorosa - Stations of the Cross - Jerusalem Israel

Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem - Stations of the Cross
Jerusalem, Israel Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem - Stations of the Cross. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The Via Dolorosa is marked with street signs in English, Hebrew, and Arabic in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Via Dolorosa is the traditional route of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

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King David's Tomb - Jerusalem

King David's Tomb - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel King David's Tomb - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The tomb of King David, founder of Jerusalem.

King David founded Jerusalem and united both northern and southern Israel into one nation. He is buried there.

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