Travel to holy places
Late in the evening, a scheduled bus drove up to the Sheremetyevo-2 Airport sparkling with thousands of lights. I have not been here for a long time, and the changes immediately caught my eye. The appearance of passengers has especially changed. Previously, smug business travelers, timid tourists, and exhausted departing emigrants predominated. Now the bulk were “shuttles”, who occupied all conceivable places for rest with their huge bags, and impudent vacationers traveling with the whole family — they began relaxation even before the border control, where, by the way, the pretty soldiers were replaced by pretty girls.
After a fierce customs inspection, I had to pass another exam, which was conducted by the airline employees. There were everyday questions – for example, are you taking items, letters, etc. for transfer to another person? And quite unexpected – when was the last time you were repairing your electric shaver? When was the last time you shaved it? Was anyone present at your toilet? Strange questions, isn’t it? But they were asked by the country’s security service, which is panicky afraid of terrorism and has extensive experience in combating it. The state is Israel.
It is no exaggeration to say that Israel is the largest historical open-air museum. Its territory is relatively small, smaller than the Moscow region, but it has no equal in concentration of cultural monuments. Here the Romans and Byzantines, Crusaders and Turks left their mark. Here began the story of the three largest religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Whoever you are – a true believer or a convinced atheist, you cannot help but be pierced by the thought: now I am in the place where Christ was born about 2000 years ago; so I put my hand on the crèche, where the swaddled baby lay. The place of Christmas is under the Orthodox throne and is indicated by a silver star with the inscription: “Here, Jesus Christ was born from the Virgin Mary.” Over the cave of the Nativity of Christ a large church in the shape of a cross was built.
To get into it, you need to squeeze through the Gate of humility with a height of only 1.2 meters. A person entering the church, as if bowing to a bright place, A narrow and low passage was also made so that the Turks, who conquered Palestine in the Middle Ages, could not defile the temple, entering the basilica on horseback. The interior of the church is striking in its monumentality and grandeur. The grandeur is achieved through five naves, separated by four rows of Corinthian columns of red limestone.
The Basilica of the Nativity – the center of modern Bethlehem – is located 18 kilometers south of Jerusalem, in which the earthly journey of the “Son of Man” ended. Already at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher you will experience a huge emotional lift, close to shock. And there are visions inspired by the Bible and Bulgakov’s book “The Master and Margarita.” Here you can climb the wooden stairs to Calvary and even stand near the cross, and then, going down, to see the place where Christ lay after the execution. Nearby is a small cave where his body was carried, closing the entrance with a huge stone.
During my life I had a chance to see many remarkable cult monuments. The st. Petra in Rome or the Cathedral of Milan, Notre Dame de Paris and the Cathedral of St. Witta is in Prague, but contemplating them, you are more likely to experience aesthetics, primarily thinking of a human genius who can create such an architectural miracle. In appearance, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher does not make a grand impression, since it, located in the old part of the city, is sandwiched from all sides by other buildings.
However, the degree of experience here is different. Even the most chatty ones fell silent, the most vociferous fell into a whisper, everyone plunged into themselves – some were baptized, others whispered a prayer, others lit and consecrated candles. The feeling of belonging to the eternal does not leave the traveler for a minute while visiting the Promised Land.
The travel program was rich, the journeys were tiring enough, but can you take a free minute and take a nap on the bus if you hear the words of the guide-translator: “Pay attention to the Hill of Beatitude to the left, here Jesus Christ delivered his Sermon on the Mount, and here is Cana of Galilee. Here Christ accomplished his first miracle by turning water into wine. ” Or: “Now we will stop in the city of Jericho, the oldest city in the world – according to archaeologists, it turned 6 thousand years old.
Pay attention to the Church of Pisces and Breads, where, according to legend, Jesus fed 5,000 people. And here is the Jordan River, the place of baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist. “Plates in all languages warn that swimming is forbidden here, but does it stop” ours “- several people from the group in clothes are already splashing in green water, peeling” for memory ” leaves of weeping willow.
Wandering the streets of the old city in Jerusalem and examining the national shrines of Christians, Muslims (the magnificent El Aqsa Mosque) or Jews (the Wailing Wall), which are literally on the same spot, I involuntarily thought why people forced to live in the same communal apartment, so intolerant of each other.