The Via Dolorosa is an ancient path in Jerusalem’s Old City, where it’s believed Jesus carried the cross to his crucifixion. Also known in Catholicism as the Stations of the Cross, it’s a pilgrimage that’s been followed going back to the fourth century. The route has changed over the years, and today there are 14 stations along the path, each marked with a plaque detailing what took place at that location.
Visitors can follow the path Jesus is said to have taken while carrying the cross to his crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa is open to the pubic, and visitors can choose to make their own way or book a guided tour to add context. Many pilgrims stop to pray and reflect on the events believed to have taken place at each station, although it should be noted that it’s a busy and often noisy route, with a bustling outdoor market going on around it.
Things to Know Before You Go
- While well-marked, the path winds through busy streets with lined with snack stalls and tourist shops, so it can be hard to follow.
- It’s not always easy to see each plaque, but there are many tours that guide visitors with commentary.
- There is a weekly procession along the Via Dolorosa led by Franciscans every Friday afternoon at 3pm.
- The Franciscan procession begins at the Pilgrim’s Reception Center near by the Lion’s Gate.
- The number of pilgrims to Via Dolorosa swell to thousands when Franciscans flock to the site during Holy Week.
How to Get There
The Via Dolorosa begins at the Lion’s Gate in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and stretches about a third of a mile (500 meters) to its end at the Christian Quarter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
When to Get There
The Via Dolorosa is open to the public year round, but the Franciscan procession at 3pm on Fridays is a popular time to follow the path.
Arab Souk in the Muslim Quarter
The Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City stretches across 76 acres (31 hectares) and can be accessed through Lion’s Gate, Damascus Gate, and Herod’s Gate. It’s easy to get lost in the winding maze of lively streets that make up the Arab Souk in center of the Muslim Quarter. Stalls selling everything from spices, breads, and pastries to freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and hummus are tightly packed along the narrow streets. The buzzing outdoor markets are a sight to behold, with traders hawking wares on streets that are thousands of years old.