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Cruising Article – 2011-06-13

Contemplate religious history in Jerusalem

Mediterranean cruise destinations

The city of Jerusalem is a sacred destination for members of several of the world's most popular religions, and it is home to an array of attractions that will appeal to those of any faith. During a shore excursion as part of a Mediterranean cruise, you can experience all that this ancient metropolis has to offer.

One major religious site is the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. This stone structure is said to be the only remaining part of the Second Temple, a Jewish sanctuary that was destroyed by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. Today, it is the single most important site for Jews around the world, but people belonging to any religion are welcome to visit. Several other important Jewish sites are found throughout the Jewish Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in the walled Old City. Here, you can explore ancient synagogues and an ancient Roman street built in 135 A.D.

At the Yad Vashem Memorial, you can learn about an important era of modern Jewish history - the Holocaust. This sprawling museum commemorates the millions of lives lost as a result of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Many of the most popular destinations in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities nearby are related to the life of Jesus Christ. His story starts in the town of Bethlehem, which is also the site of the birth of King David. In this city, you can see where Christ is believed to have been born at the Church of the Nativity.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, you will be able to relive another important moment in Christian history, as this peaceful olive grove in the compound of the Church of All Nations is said to be where Judas betrayed Jesus. Meanwhile, the Dormition Abbey is the site of his famed Last Supper as well as the tomb of David, which is festooned with 22 shining silver crowns.

You may then trace Christ's footsteps leading up to his crucifixion on the Via Dolorosa, or "Way of Sorrows." This path through the streets of Jerusalem runs from where he was sentenced by Pontius Pilate to Golgotha, the hill where he was killed.

At the end of the Via Dolorosa, you will find the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This majestic cathedral is located on the site where Jesus was allegedly buried and resurrected, making it one of Christianity's most important destinations.