A new pilgrimage route in Jerusalem is recreating a journey Jesus and his disciples may have taken on their visits to the city 2,000 years ago.
The trail is centred on ancient ritual baths at the Ophel site used by the tens of thousands of pilgrims visiting the Temple for the three great festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. The pilgrims would have ascended from the Siloam Pool by way of the City of the David to the Ophel and its ritual baths and from there to the Temple Mount.
Now the trail has been marked in a project led by the Israel Antiquities Authority so modern-day pilgrims can walk the same path. Modern-day visitors ascend the route accompanied by explanations of what they are seeing, eventually reaching the monumental Hulda stairs and the double gate on the southern wall of the Temple Mount. Visitors walk over bridges and stairs that 'float' between the ruins of buildings and installations. The route is flanked by shade stations, observation points and gathering areas.
Jewish ritual baths were used to purify worshipers for Temple rituals and are the origin of the Christian rite of baptism.
For hundreds of years after the destruction of the Temple Jews were forbidden from residing in Jerusalem. The city's non-Jewish inhabitants used the abandoned baths for as water cisterns, storage spaces and quarries.