JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Friday, June 7, 2013

11. Judean Desert from Jerusalem.


 Judean Desert from Augusta Victoria Bell Tower

 Augusta Victoria Lutheran Evangelical Church of Ascension and its Bell Tower
Photos-25 August 2009

Judean Desert from Hebrew University Mount Scopus
Photo-11 December, 2009

Jerusalem is a city with several viewpoints; the most famous of them face west to the historic old city. However, Jerusalem is surrounded from the east by a dry desert, the Judean Desert which stretches up to the Dead Sea. I am told that if you are very lucky, it is possible to see the brilliant blue of the north of the Dead Sea from Jerusalem, provided you find a good viewpoint and more importantly a clear and bright sky. Dead Sea is approximately 35 km east to Jerusalem, but there is an altitude difference of 1200 meters. An ideal viewpoint to see the Judean Desert from Jerusalem is the bell tower of Augusta Victoria Church. Located at the summit of Mount Olives, the 50 meters tall bell tower gives an excellent view to the Judean desert, but there is the cost of climbing 223 sprightly steps! I wasn’t lucky to have a nice weather that day so you can see the photos are not clear. The Hebrew University campus in Mount Scopus is another choice, but the best spot I believe would be the 64 meters tall bell tower of the Russian Orthodox Church of Ascension in the Mount of Olives. Unfortunately, the bell tower is opened only once a year and I have not seen so far any pictures from the Russian Orthodox Bell Tower towards the Judean Desert.

Location

The bell tower is part of the ‘Augusta Victoria Lutheran Evangelical Church of Ascension’ (1910) located on the north side of Mount of Olives. The church is part of the Augusta Victoria Hospital located on Martin Buber Street. If you are using public transport, the best way is to get down at the hospital stop using Arab Bus No 75 from Damascus Gate.

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