Church Hopping in Search of Dead Things

I like big bells and I cannot lie!

I like big bells and I cannot lie!

Never fear though, if museums aren’t your thing there are plenty of churches to while away the hours exploring. Added bonus, they’re often cooler inside due to their stone construction and they smell of lovely incense. IMG_4321The Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem has a lovely metal lined hole which you can stick your hand into if you like and touch the place where Constantine thought Jesus was born.

One old gnarled olive tree

One old gnarled olive tree

I would have attached a photo of it here but a rather fervent worshiper had prostrated himself over the hole and did not appear to be moving anytime soon (he may actually have been asleep, I couldn’t be sure). Instead you get some very lovely caged lamps from an adjoining alcove – I expect they’re magical lamps and that’s why they need to be secured.

I could totally pull off the beard look

I could totally pull off the beard look

If you want to see some of the oldest olive trees in Israel, stop in at the Church of All Nations/Church of the Agony on the Mount of Olives.

Bath time?

Bath time?

The church has some lovely purple  stained glass, and if you look at the floors you can see how the church would have originally been laid out and hiding in one corner are some of the original stone stairs. They also have a big rock that people kiss.

The magic rubbing stone - bless all your candles and religious items here.

The magic rubbing stone – bless all your candles and religious items here.

One of my favorites is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – supposedly the site of the crucifixion; regardless of the accuracy of this claim, the church is fantastic to explore. There are all kinds of alcoves and alters, from gaudy ones to an underground cave one. I love all the graffiti left by pilgrims, much of which is several centuries old – some things never change.

Sneaking a picture in the possible tomb of Mary

Sneaking a picture in the possible tomb of Mary

This is one of my favorite crosses carved by a pilgrim

This is one of my favorite crosses carved by a pilgrim

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