The Via Dolorosa
Places of Interest
The Via Dolorosa
1. The Via Dolorosa starts (Station 1) at the original place of the Antonia Fortress, which is currently a Muslim Elementary School.
2. Station 1 is located on Lion’s Gate St., several hundred yards (m.) inside the Old City west of the Lion’s Gate.
3. The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
1. Via Dolorosa means “The Painful Path.”
2. It’s the route Jesus walked as he went from His trial before Pilate at Antonia’s Fortress to His crucifixion at Golgotha.
3. The Via Dolorosa has 14 stations honoring the events that took place as Christ made His way to Golgotha to be crucified.
4. In the 4th century, Byzantine pilgrims followed a similar path to the one taken today but did not stop along the way.
5. During the 8th century the route changed, it began at the Garden of Gethsemane, headed south to Mount Zion, then returned around the Temple Mount to the Holy Sepulchre.
6. The present route was marked out by the Franciscans in 1342 after the Ottoman Sultan granted them authority over the Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
7. Nine of the events are biblical, and five are taken from traditional beliefs handed down over the centuries.
Places of Interest
1. Lions’ Gate
2. Temple Mount
3. Antonia Fortress
4. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
5. Ecce Homo Arch
6. Original stone pavement section
7. Old City wall in the time of Christ
The 14 Stations of the Via Dolorosa
The stations that are biblical will have Bible verses after them clarifying the events (Stations 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14).
The stations that have been handed down from tradition will just list the event that is believed to have happened there (Stations 3, 4, 6, 7, 9).
Stations 1–9 each have a large rounded metal plaque with Roman numerals marking their locations. Stations 10—14 are located at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
1. Station 1: Jesus is condemned to death. Location: Umariya Muslim Elementary School, which is where the Antonia Fortress was located. Permission is needed to enter the school courtyard. However, if permission is not granted, this event can be commemorated outside the school.
Matthew 27:27: Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.
Luke 23: 13–25: Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will, therefore, punish and release him." 18 But they all cried out together, "Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas"— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" 22 A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will, therefore, punish and release him." 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
2. Station 2: Jesus is given His cross. Location: Church of Condemnation/Flagellation across from Station 1.
John 19:16–17: So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
Between Stations 2 and 3 is Ecco Homo Arch (behold the man).
3. Station 3: Jesus falls the first time. Location: take a left (south) at the corner of Via Dolorosa St. and Al Wad St. and Station 3 is immediately on the left.
In front of Station 3, are old stones on the street from the time of Christ that were discovered underneath this area and placed here for all to see.
4. Station 4: Jesus meets His mother. Located a short distance southward from Station 3 on El-Wad St.
5. Station 5: Simon of Cyrene carries Christ’s cross. Located at the corner of Via Dolorosa St. and El-Wad St. From this corner the street takes a sharp turn to the right and then starts ascending uphill with a series of stairs along the way.
Matthew 27:31–32: And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. 32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.
6. Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Location: on Via Dolorosa St. up from station 5.
According to tradition, Veronica felt compassion when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil so that he could wipe his forehead. Jesus supposedly wiped His face and then handed it back to her with the image of His face miraculously impressed upon her veil. Veronica means true image in Latin.
A short distance before Station 7, part of the original wall of the city can be seen. Golgotha was outside the city during the time of Christ, and this wall marks the exit out of the city.
7. Station 7: Jesus falls the second time. Location: at the corner of Via Dolorosa St. and Khan es-Zeit St.
8. Station 8: Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem. Location: from Station 7, take a step to the left and walk up Ma'alot E-Khanka St. a short distance.
Luke 23:27–31: And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.' 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
9. Station 9: Jesus falls the third time. Location: walk back down to Station 7, take a right (south) on Beit HaBad St. Continue on Beit HaBad St. for about 75 yards (70 meters) and you will notice on the right a stairway leading to Station 9. Station 9 is the hardest to find. It’s located by the Coptic Patriarchate Building, through a narrow alley.
Stations 10–14 are at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Location: from Station 9, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can be accessed two ways: (1) by a green door that leads to the courtyard of the Holy Sepulcher (2) by returning to Beit HaBad St. and continuing south, then take a right on Shuk ha-Tsaba'im St. and follow it to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
10. Station 10: Jesus is stripped of His garments. Location: in a room outside the church called The Chapel of the Franks, on the right side of the church entrance.
John 19:23–24: When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things.
11. Station 11: Jesus arrives at Golgotha and is nailed to the cross. Location: just after entering the church, take a right and go up the stairs to the second level. A Franciscan altar marks Station 11.
John 19:17–18: And he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
12. Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross. Location: beside Station 11 a Greek Orthodox crucifixion altar marks Station 12.
Matthew 27:45–54: Now from the sixth hour [12:00 pm] there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour [3:00 pm]. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Beside Station 12 is a large cracked rock which is believed to have been caused by the earthquake at Christ’s death. On the lower level of the church, this rock can be seen as well.
13. Station 13: Jesus' body is removed from the cross. Location: on the ground level of the church in front of the entrance. This station is marked by a large marble slab with adornments hanging above it.
John 19:38–40: After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
14. Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense. Location: in the large rotunda of the church a large enclosed tomb marks Station 14.
John 19:41–42: Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
For a more detailed look at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, please see Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Faith Lesson from the Via Dolorosa
1. Roman Crucifixion always took place in the most public areas as possible.
2. Jesus was led through the busy streets for maximum humiliation.
3. Christ’s crucifixion happened on the day of Passover, so Jerusalem was at its busiest time of year, and there could have easily been around 150,000 people present in the city at this time.
4. The blood lost during the floggings, the crown of thorns, and beatings were unbearable and life-threatening.
5. Christ was so weak that Simon of Cyrene had to carry His cross most of the way to Golgotha.
6. The total time elapsed from Christ’s suffering that began in the Garden of Gethsemane to His death on the cross was about 18 hours of sleepless, intense torment and pain.
7. The physical suffering was only a drop in the bucket compared to the spiritual suffering Christ endured in order to pay for our sins.
8. Do we really understand the price that was paid for the forgiveness of our sins, the privilege we have of being right with God, and the gift of eternal life in heaven?
9. Do we warn others of the reality of the judgments of God and the price of rejecting Christ’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life?
10. If we refuse to believe in the existence of a literal hell, then all Christ suffered has little meaning or purpose. This would be a horrendous slap in the face of Christ for all He did on the cross.