Via Dolorosa and Stations of the Cross
The Via Dolorosa, the Jerusalem path taken by Jesus over his last few hours leading up to crucifixion, is one of the most notable sites for Christian pilgrimage in Israel. Although the Via Dolorosa's length is only 600 feet, the winding Stations of the Cross route takes Holy Land tour participants all the way through the agony and sacrifice of Jesus from his arrest at Antonia Fortress to his crucifixion and eventual burial at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Via Dolorosa is a modern remnant of the Roman road that Jesus took, carrying the cross. Along the route, stop at the Stations of the Cross, which are marked by plaques and sometimes by churches, monasteries and other landmarks. The commemorations at each station provide historical perspective as well as spiritual guidance.
Start at the site of the Judgment Hall, where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death. Next, visit the Franciscan Church of the Flagellation, where Jesus began to carry the cross. The stained-glass windows of the chapel tell the story of the condemnation in colorful detail.
A small Polish church commemorates the spot where Jesus fell the first time. The place where Jesus met the agonizing Mary is marked by the Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm. At the location where Simon helped Jesus carry the cross, a cavity in the stone is said to be the imprint of Jesus' hand.
Reflect on Veronica's righteous act at the Holy Face chapel, and continue uphill through the Gate of Judgment. Experience the steep incline and bustle of the street that caused Jesus to fall once again. Visit the Church of St. Helen and its ancient water cistern, constructed on the location of Jesus' third fall.
At the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, admire the intricate design of the Chapel of the Franks. This was the place where Jesus' clothes were removed, and the spot served as a pilgrims' destination during the Middle Ages. Inside the church, pray at the rock where Jesus was crucified, at the altar where he died and at the Stone of the Anointing where he was laid down. The last stop on the Via Dolorosa is at the tomb of Jesus, located in the church's innermost chamber.