The Temple, Via Dolorosa and Quarries

Now. 16th

After breakfast, went off to see Temple enclosure etc. It measures about 1 mile round, being rather long N. and S. E. looks on to Mt of Olives and with S. side is outside of town. This great space is, for the most part, open, with rough surface, in places flagged. The principal building is Mosque of Omar, now being decorated. Very fine dome, and good general effect; but does not bear close inspection. Outside decoration principally tile works, inside, gilt and paint. Under Dome a large natural rock, where Abraham offered up his son Isaac. This is deemed specially holy by the Moslems, and out of one party only one might walk on it. Two beautiful marble works with rope twined columns shown, said to be relics of Solomon's day. The rock is said to be suspended on air, and mark of angel's hand seen where he held it in position on going below it. However, we saw some tolerable support.

Next went in Mosque of Al-Aqsa formerly Xtian Church, one of oldest in world - large place but nothing striking - and went down into the great sea or reservoirs 100 ft from surface - appear to be hewn of solid rock and are very extensive. Water from Solomon's Pools formerly flowed in here. These, and what are called Solomon's stables, are, no doubt, very ancient, and perhaps the work of the wise man.

The stables, so called, are very lofty vaults, covering some acres on S.E. side, their main object to extend the Temple platform by filling up the valley in this way: they were doubtless utilised in other ways too. I saw gate of Beautiful Temple, porch very solid and massive with gateway walled up. It leads down to valley of Jehoshophat on E. side.

Left T. enclosure on N. side and, just outside, were shown Pools of Bethesda, now a big hole, with signs of an arch or two, but partly filled with rubbish; old bottom being 70 ft lower than now. Same may be said of all ... around the city - the excavations tracing foundations of walls from 70 to 110 ft below present surface.

Not far off we were shown where Hall of Judgement stood, and walked up the Via Dolorosa. Here is a Church; over its altar is an old arch or porch said to be where Pontius Pilate brought out Jesus and said "Behold your King".

Went out of Damascus Gate, and by a path under the wall of city into the quarries, immense subterranean works, from which men took the stone for the great works of Solomon and others. The works descend considerably, and widen and narrow as the rock suited them, no doubt. Lots of stones partly carven round are to be seen. The workings extend right under the city, and a shaft or two have been found, one rising into the Temple enclosure, and so unfolding the mystery of how the stones came into the Temple, all prepared for their place.

The party here went off to lunch, and I went to get my letters, which I got with great joy. Having to pay 16d for one that contained no news was a little drawback. This afternoon visited Church of Sepulchre, and bought a few olive wood articles.

Go to Next Chapter