The Via Dolorosa, or ‘Way of Suffering’ is an important site for those on a holy land vacation, a street comprising two parts located within the Old City of Jerusalem. Of special significance to Christians, it is said to be the path walked by Jesus while carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion. The route has long been a site of Christian pilgrimage with the current street having been established in the 18th century. Marked by a series of stations, five being situated inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The traditional route
The traditional route starts just inside Lion’s Gate, or St Stephan’s Gate, close to the location of the former Antonia Fortress. The first and second stations commemorate Jesus’s encounter with Pontius Pilate where there are three churches, the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross, Church of the Flagellation and Church of Ecco Homo. Next to the Church of the Ecco Homo is an arch built by Hadrian. Subsequent stations are said to represent the times Jesus stumbled on his way to the place of crucifixion. The first fall is represented by the third station where the Polish Catholic Chapel resides. The second fall is represented by the seventh station at a crossroads, adjacent to the Franciscan chapel, while the third fall is the ninth station located at the entrance to the Ethiopian Orthodox Monastery.
Other stations of note include the point at which Jesus met his mother Mary, a station commemorating the place where Jesus met Veronica and a station where Jesus was said to have met with pious women.
Each Friday a Roman Catholic procession walks the route, headed by Franciscan monks, while there are also frequent re-enactments en-route, some of which are more professional than others. Israel tour operators will be able to identify the best days to visit.