Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Watercolor Travel Journal- Sketches from the Holy Land Part 5 - Following Jesus' Last Footsteps in Jerusalem

The weather forecast for Jerusalem today is very cold and rainy. And today is planned to be a whole day on foot, out in the open for most of the day. This is our most anticipated part of our journey - following Jesus' passion as He walks His last steps leading up to His crucifixion and death on the cross. No matter how bad the weather, we are resolved not to miss this day. We did not pack for the cold rainy weather, as the weather in Israel preceding our trip was showing as sunny 70 degrees F and rising.   I put on 5 layers of clothing, under my down winter coat topped with  my rain coat, add to that wool socks, gloves and scarf, I am as ready as can be.

Our first stop for today was the top of Mount of Olives where we were afforded another breathtaking view of Jerusalem. It was very cold and the wind was really whipping - it felt like Chicago winds at its most brutal force. We were all pretty concerned about how the rest of the day would pan out.

We walked over to the Church of Dominus Flevit, which translate from Latin as "The Lord Wept." The Church memorializes the site where according to the Gospel, as Jesus was walking towards the city of Jerusalem, He was overwhelmed by the beauty of the 17-story Second Temple dominating the vista and, predicting its future destruction and the exile and the dispersion of the Jewish people from the area, He wept. Today, in the teardrop-shaped Dominus Flevit church, one would also see mosaics from the Byzantium period.

View from Dominus Flevit Church.overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Temple Mount

We proceeded to walk down to the Garden of Gethsemane area, where the Church of All Nations, also called the Basilica of the Agony is located. This church has a very beautiful fa├žade, with a large mosaic depicting the story of Jesus in Gethsemane. A priest at the entrance of the church pulled me over to the side, made a sign of the cross on my forehead, said a prayer and gave me a hug. I do not know what prompted him to do that. Maybe it is random but I felt I receive a special blessing.

It is believed that the bedrock in the altar of the church is the site where Jesus said His last prayer before He was betrayed and arrested.  Of all the places  we visited in Jerusalem, kneeling and praying at the altar while  touching the bedrock was where I felt Jesus' presence the most. In the garden next to the church are some of the oldest olive trees in the world.

The Basilica of the Agony in Gethsemane
We continued our walk down towards the foothills of the Mount of Olives,  past the old Jewish cemetery, to where Mary's Tomb  or Church of the Assumption is located. The church itself is located in a cave. As you enter the church entrance, you go way down about 50 steps on a wide staircase cut into the rock to the church below. Located behind a small altar, you enter into Mary's tomb  through a small opening  in front, just to the right of the altar.
The entrance into the Church of the Assumption (Mary's Tomb). The Church is built into a cave below ground.

We were granted a slight reprieve from the cold and walking by our guide Yaakov, who decided to have the van pick us up and take us to Herod's Gate, one of the entry points to the walled city of Old Jerusalem. This saved us from the walk down to the Kidron Valley and then up again to Old Jerusalem.  At Herod's Gate, there were a good number of Israeli Defense Forces securing the area. The celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim, commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish People during the ancient Persian empire, is coming up over the weekend and the army is there to avoid any disturbances. The feeling is much like during the last days of Jesus, when the Jewish people flocked Jerusalem to celebrate Passover and the Roman soldiers were there in numbers to prevent any outbreak of unrest.

Herod's Gate

We walked through the Muslim quarter on our way to the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, the path that Jesus took during His passion. Today is Friday, the same day that Jesus was judged, scourged, crowned with thorns and carried the cross to Golgotha or Calvary, where He was crucified and died on the cross. But first, we stopped at the Church of St. Anne, which is dedicated to Mary's parents Anne and Joachim, who according to tradition lived on this site just steps away  from the Bethesda pools, which in the Bible are associated with healing.  It is also believed that Mary was born here.

Small well in front of Church of St. Anne

We are now on our way to follow the sacred Via Dolorosa which starts in the Muslim quarter and ends in the Christian Quarter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher compound, located on what was Golgotha.

Via Dolorosa Street sign in Hebrew, Arabic and  Spanish. My apologies for my Hebrew and Arabic script.

The various stations along the way are marked by a gray metal disc with the Roman numerals corresponding to the number of the station. Along the way, the daily life inside the Old Walls of Jerusalem continues on as it did two millennia ago - people buying and selling stuff, praying, doing their laundry, cooking, etc...

Station I was at the place believed to be Antonia where Jesus was condemned to death. There was an awesome view from the crusader style windows of the Temple Mount. The storekeeper at the entrance had to let us in the site so we had to spend 5 minutes browsing his store. We did end up buying a few items.

Detail of Ecce Homo Sketch
We walked over to the Ecce Homo Convent where the Church of the Flagellation is located,. Here is where Pontius Pilate gave his Ecce Homo speech (Station II) and where Jesus was bound scourged, crowned with thorns and started carrying His cross. 

Station II - The Church of the Flagellation

The disc for Station III can be found at an intersection. It marks the first time that Jesus falls while carrying the cross.

Station IV - Where Jesus met his mother
Walking towards Station IV, where Jesus meets his mother,  the streets started to get very crowded until we came to a stand still just before the station. The Muslim faithful just finished their prayers at the mosque and are out on the streets visiting among themselves. The road was impassable and we could not continue. So our guide Yaakov gave us a choice, wait or have an early lunch break. We opted for lunch at a nearby restaurant advertised to have the best pizza in Jerusalem. Apparently, other pilgrims had the same idea cause soon the restaurant was crowded. After lunch, we visited the station which had a dramatic white sculpture of Jesus with His cross.

Following the twist and turns of the Via Dolorosa, we are slowly climbing upwards and arrived at Station V, where Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Jesus. There is an indentation on one of  the rocks on the wall that is claimed to be an imprint of the hand of Jesus.
Station V - Where Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Jesus

As the path continuous to ascend, among the souks, we stopped at Station VI - where Veronica wiped the face of Jesus with her veil. It is said an imprint of Jesus' face was left on her veil.
Station VI - Where Veronica wiped the face of Jesus

We continued walking through the souks and stopped at a strikingly decorated door trimmed with red. This is Station VII where Jesus falls the second time.

Station VIII - where Jesus met the women of Jerusalem
Station VIII would have been a difficult one to find without a guide - again you go through the souks, take a turn or two on the narrow streets and ascend some steps. This is where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem and said, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." A stone is imbedded in the wall with a carved cross and the monogram "IC-XC-NI-KA" which stands for Jesus Christ conquers.

Station IX - where Jesus falls the third time

A few more twist and turns and ups and downs following the Via Dolorosa and we enter an area where the Coptic and Ethiopian monasteries are located and follow the walkway to an archway with a cross on top.  On the wall to the right is the disc marking Station IX - Jesus falls the third time.


The Actual page from my Via Dolorosa water color travel journal

A page from my journal showing my preliminary pencil and watercolor sketches of  some of the various Stations of the Cross

The finished journal page of some of the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa (Stations 2, 4, 5, 6, 9

We went up the steps and entered the Coptic church while a religious service was going on and walked through to the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where the last five stations are located. Some historical text claims that  this site has been venerated as Golgotha by early Christians since the crucifixion.  A church was first built  by order of Emperor Constantine in 325 BC and subsequently, destroyed rebuilt and destroyed again. The current church was built in 1149 by the Crusaders.

We entered the church through large wooden doors, then walked up the stairs to the right to Calvary  to the locations of the following Stations -  Station X - Jesus is stripped off His garments, Station XI -  Jesus is nailed to the Cross, and  Station XII - Jesus dies on the cross.  This area is crowded with pilgrims and lines are long to get closer to the altars and kiss or touch  the site of the Holy Cross.

After spending some time in prayer and reflection, we went down the steps from Calvary to   Station XIII - Jesus is removed from the cross , at the Stone of Unction where according to tradition Jesus was laid after He was removed from the cross.

We continued to walk inside the church, where under a massive dome is an ornate square structure called the Aedicule. This is the location of the tomb of Jesus and the site of the final station, Station XIV. It can take up to over two hours to enter the burial chamber as the lines are very long. We opted to skip the line and visit other areas inside the church compound such as St. Helena's chapel, an old burial chamber near the Jacobite Chapel similar to what Jesus would have been buried in, Adam's Chapel, etc. This is a massive complex with churches and chapels from different Christian denominations.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Even though, it is difficult to imagine how this route was more than 2000 years ago, walking the Via Dolorosa was still a very humbling, emotional and spiritual experience, for no matter how hard the walk is for anyone, it can never compare to what Jesus went through. We were blessed that day in many ways - although it was cold, it did not rain, there was no rioting on the streets and even as our feet and body ached all over, we survived the Via Dolorosa by God's grace. Jesus went through unimaginable anguish, pain, sorrow, humiliation and excruciating death in order to save us. I, for one, am thankful and pray that I am deserving of His sacrifice.

1 Peter 3:18
- For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Our day ended up early today in preparation of the observance of Shabbat, a time of rest and prayer for the Jewish people, which would start at sundown today and end at sundown tomorrow, Saturday.  It was very quiet where our hotel is located as mostly Orthodox Jews reside around the area. We had Shabbat dinner at the hotel and all the lights were extinguished at some point in time in our hotel room. Luckily, we were already sleeping.  
Shabbat Shalom! 

Note: All sketches were painted on an Arches Carnet de Voyage Travel Book with artists grade Schmincke and Daler Rowney watercolors.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Watercolor Travel Journal- Sketches from the Holy Land Part 4 - Dead Sea to Jerusalem

Our excitement is palpable, today we will finally be seeing Jerusalem for the first time. Before that, we will stop at Masada. It is cold and rainy and the Israelis are all happy for the blessing. Apparently, they had a very dry and warm winter. There has been no precipitation for almost 3 months. Today, there is a threat of flash floods on our way to Jerusalem. The short route may be closed, so we may have to travel an additional 2 to 3 hours to get to Jerusalem the long way around. We may not even be able to see Masada. Our guide Yaakov has been checking road closing announcements constantly. Just before we left our hotel, he found out that they are letting a few cars through on the way to Masada, we might luck out so he decided to push through towards Masada.


The first time I really recall having heard about Masada was on a TV series with the same name aired many years ago. The story stuck in my mind ever since. We took a cable car ride from the Masada visitor's center to the top of the rock plateau or mesa on the edge of the Judean desert and overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on top and on the side this mountain and fortified Masada. The most famous story here and the subject of the movie was the mass suicide of 960 Jewish rebels and their families hiding in Masada, as a response to the Roman siege, towards the end of the First Jewish-Roman War

From the top, you can see the snake road scaling the mountain that was used in ancient times and is still in use by visitors who opt to climb or come down on foot and not use the cable cars. Archaeological remains of Herod's three-tiered palace on the side of the mountain exists, as well as storage facilities, large bath houses, a synagogue, barracks and cisterns. The ramp the Romans built during the siege remains intact. Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ruins in Masada, overlooking the Dead Sea.
The flag of Israel stands to affirm "Masada will not fall again."


After Masada, we pushed on to Jerusalem via the Jericho route, the traditional route pilgrims from the Galilee region would take to reach Jerusalem. There are still danger of road closures which would mean we have to be diverted south, work our way around the Judean desert mountains and then north again to Jerusalem. Luckily, the flood waters were not that bad, the passages clear and we reached Jerusalem safely. Upon arrival, we were treated to a panoramic view from Mt. Scopius. Shalom Jerusalem.
Pen sketch of Jerusalem

View of Jerusalem from Mt. Scopius. The Temple Mount, dominated by the golden dome of the blue mosque is in the foreground.. The Temple Mount is an important site to all members of the 3 monotheistic religions, Christians, Jews and Islams.

Our itinerary in Jerusalem, pretty much followed the last days of Jesus. One of our first stop was the place was in Mount Zion, where many believe King David is buried. After visiting King David's Tomb, we went upstairs to the site of the Upper Room, Cenacle, which tradition dictates is where the Last Supper took place, a frequent meeting place of Jesus and His followers in Jerusalem during Passover and where Jesus appeared before His disciples after His resurrection, in particular, the place where Thomas touched Jesus' wounds. It is also believed to be where the Judeo-Christian movement started.  The building itself has been destroyed and reconstructed through the years until today's Gothic style architecture. True to the schedule, the Last Supper was said to have occurred on a Thursday, the same day we visited the site. Most of the Holy Sites throughout the Holy Land are in the custody of the Franciscan order.

The Cenacle or Upper Room where the Last Supper took place

We entered the Zion Gate into Old Jerusalem, and walked through the labyrinth of streets (one could easily get lost here) towards the Western Wall.  The Old City is divided into 4 quarters, Christian, Jewish, Armenian and Muslim. I think we were in the Armenian quarter, or was it the Jewish quarter?We came across The Cardo, a colonnaded street from the Roman period that was found during relatively recent archaeological digs. The Cardo is the main street of the time with stores lining the sides.

The Cardo
Through the many twists and turns and ups and downs on the streets of Old Jerusalem, we came upon a big opening. This is the Western Wall or the Kotel, which is the last remnant of the Great Temple. Due to its proximity to the "Holy of Holies" in the Temple, it is the most significant site in the world for the Jewish people. Today, people write notes to God and place them between the cracks of the ancient stones of the Wall. It is sectioned off for men and women. I tucked in a prayer for our family, friends and especially for my UP Prep '65 classmates.


Hasidic Jews praying in front of the Western Wall
After, our guide took us to the Western Wall Tunnels, another archaeological site where serious excavations were done after the Six Day War in 1967 to reveal the rest of the Western Wall. Here you can see how the Temple Mount was originally constructed and supported. Impressive is a single stone 45 feet long and width between 11 to 15 feet, weighing 570 tons (est.) which was installed on the wall by human beings without powered machinery. You still see Jews (mostly women) praying inside the tunnel, as it is the closest spot to the original temple.
A Jewish woman praying inside the Western Wall Tunnels

Note: All sketches were painted on an Arches Carnet de Voyage Travel Book with artists grade Schmincke and Daler Rowney watercolors.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Watercolor Travel Journal- Sketches from the Holy Land Part 3 - Tiberias to the Dead Sea

The third part of our Holy Land tour brought us from Tiberias to the Dead Sea.  We would now be travelling south following the River Jordan leaving the lush Galilean area and then passing by the Palestinian controlled mountainous region of Samaria and then the Judean desert until we reach the town of Ein Bobek on the shores of the Dead Sea where our hotel is located. The Bible is rich with stories set in these areas and of their people.

Our first stop was at Yardenit on the River Jordan. It is popular with Christian pilgrims as a place of baptism on the River Jordan.  Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist on the river but the original site is placed farther south in Qasr el Yahud, which is just north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho. It became  a frontier area, so a new replacement site was established in Yardenit.  Four of us in the group went through the baptism. We rented the white frock and towels. Our baptism was conducted by one of our co-pilgrims who is a pastor and also by a woman pastor from Belleville, Illinois.  It was a great experience.

KRuds Baptism on the River Jordan
Beth Shean

We were amazed by the archeological site of Beth Shean. It is strategically located at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and Jezreel Valley and controlled access from the interior to the coast as well as to Jerusalem and the Galilee. It has been continuously occupied for more than 6000 years making it one of the oldest cities in Israel. Archeological excavations have revealed more than 18 successive ancient towns. Today, you can see ruins from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantium periods. This was probably one of the main stopping points for Galileans like Jesus and his family on their pilgrimages to Jerusalem.

Amphitheater in Beth Shean


Qumran is best known as the place nearest to the caves in the desert cliffs where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden. Since the first discovery, extensive excavations were conducted in the area, unearthing nearly 900 scrolls written in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Nabatean on parchment and some on papyrus. It is billed as one of the top archaeological discoveries, maybe  second only to finding King Tut's tomb since the texts have great linguistic, historical and religious significance. Walking along the excavation site, we saw cisterns, mikvahs (Jewish ritual bath), a gathering room and a place for writing. It is said to have been the home of a Jewish sect, Essenes.

Qumram caves

Dead Sea
Our hotel for the night was in the resort town of Ein Bobek and from our room's balcony, we are treated to a panoramic view of the Dead Sea and the Judean desert. We immediately changed into swim suits for a dip in the Dead Sea itself. You had to be careful going in for fear of turning over and swallowing the super salty water.

The Dead Sea or Salt Sea is a salt lake bordering Jordan, Palestine and Israel, at an elevation of more than 1400 feet below sea level, it is the lowest point on earth. It is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean so animals cannot flourish. Since biblical times, it has been a refuge and resort because the temperature around the Dead Sea is pleasant year round plus the water is claimed to have healing capabilities and is an abundant source of minerals for health and beauty as well as commercial use. Sadly, the Dead Sea is actually dying as the supply of water from the River Jordan has been curtailed significantly due to recent dam projects. Because of the high density of the water, you actually float on the Dead Sea.

Floating on the Dead Sea

Note: All sketches were painted on an Arches Carnet de Voyage Travel Book with artists grade Schmincke and Daler Rowney watercolors.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Watercolor Travel Journal- Sketches from the Holy Land Part 2 - Around the Sea of Galilee and the Northern Border of Israel

The vista of sunrise on the Sea of Galilee greeted us from our hotel window. The largest freshwater lake in Israel, it is also known as Lake of Gennesaret, Kinneret or Lake Tiberias. This is the area where Jesus probably spent most of His adulthood and much of His ministry. He recruited four of His apostles on or around the shores of Galilee. Many of His miracles were also performed here. And, one of His most famous sermons is said to have been delivered on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

We drove to the northernmost part of Israel to the foot of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights bordering Lebanon and Syria where we came upon the archaeological and nature preserve site of Banias, also referred to as Paneas and Caesarea Philippi. One of the features is a large cave-like grotto dedicated to the Greek god Pan. There is a spring seeping from the bedrock that is one of the sources of water that feeds the River Jordan and subsequently, the Sea of Galilee.  According to the Gospels, this is the area where Jesus asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" A woman from Paneas, who had been bleeding for 12 years, is said to have been miraculously cured by Jesus.

A Roman column among the ruins in Banias. On the background the grotto dedicated to the Greek god Pan
Cruising the Sea of Galilee
Going back towards Tiberias, our next stop was a cruise on the Sea of Galilee on one of the wooden boats typical of those used during Jesus' time. We get to see the place where Jesus ministered from the lake looking all around the Galilean region where Jesus worked.  His most dramatic miracles occurred on the waters of the Sea of Galilee where He stilled the storm and walked on water. After His resurrection, He cooked breakfast on the shore for seven of His disciples.

After the cruise, we visited the museum of the Jesus Boat, a boat dated to 1 AD unearthed from the mud in 1986 along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and very likely in use during the time of Jesus. .

Cruising on the Sea of Galilee on a wooden boat
Tabgha - Church of the Multiplication

For lunch, we had a fish called "St. Peter 's fish" which I found very tasty. After, we went to Tabgha, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to visit the church commemorating the site of the miracle of multiplication where Jesus fed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Featured in the church is a mosaic of  the fish and loaves honoring the miracle..

Mosaic of Fish and Loaves in the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha

Mount of Beatitudes

The octagonal Church of the Beatitudes is situated atop the Mount of the Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus is said to have preached one of His greatest sermons or teachings, The Beatitudes.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10


The Church of Beatitudes
Tabgha - The Church of St. Peter's Primacy
Back to Tabgha, after visiting the Mount of Beatitudes, nearby the Church of the Multiplication is the Church of St. Peter's Primacy (Mensa Christi - Table of Christ) - the spot where Jesus appeared for a third time after His resurrection and appointed Simon Peter to the office of the Primacy.

The entrance to the Church of St. Peter's Primacy

An archaeological site found along the shores of the  Sea of Galilee, Capernaum was a fishing village and is said to be where St. Peter's house is located. A modern church can now be found on top of the ruins of what is traditionally believed as St. Peter's house. In the town, ruins of a synagogue and other structures from the Roman period. can be seen. This town was the center of Jesus' ministry and teachings after He left Nazareth. Here, Jesus healed St. Peter's mother-in-law and a Roman centurion's servant, cured a leper and brought a child back to life.

Entrance to synagogue in Capernaum
Note: All sketches were painted on an Arches Carnet de Voyage Travel Book with artists grade Schmincke and Daler Rowney watercolors.

Next: Watercolor Travel Journal- Sketches from the Holy Land Part 3 - Tiberias to the Dead Sea

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Watercolor Travel Journal - Sketches from the Holy Land Part 1 Tel Aviv to Tiberias

My husband and I have planned to go on a pilgrimage trip to the Holy Land for years. Somehow, we ended up travelling elsewhere, concerned about safety and the threat to peace in the Middle East. But then, friends and family have  gone on similar pilgrimages and have come back safe and sound. So this year, we made a pledge to ourselves that we will not travel anyplace else until we go to the Holy Land. We booked a tour online with Israel Travel Consultants and added an optional tour to Jordan. We were so excited to finally embark on a trip to Israel with an added bonus of seeing Petra and other parts of Jordan. Our tour was called 'Footsteps of Jesus' and we were basically following Jesus' journey from Galilee to Jerusalem where He would die on the cross. The tour was designed so that we were on the same path and schedule as the last days of Jesus preceding His crucifixion.

I have been keeping a travel art  journal of the trips we make, and this was no exception. My journal consists of watercolor sketches featuring the places we visited.  I used Arches Carnet de Voyage with 140# paper in a ring binder.  I do a preliminary sketch with a pencil, then I would go over the pencil  sketch with fine tip black permanent waterproof inch pen and then apply artist grade watercolor (Schminke and Daler Rowney, this time). I do on site sketching,  but  most of the time  I use our photographs as reference for the sketches since it is difficult to sketch on the fly especially if you are in a group. On this trip,  I found finding subjects to paint  challenging and not as interesting because of the desert hues, which seemed monotonous and drab. So, I just gave it my best try. But then again, these are sketches and not meant to be masterpieces.

Here is the first installment of my journal.

After an overnight plane ride with a layover in Vienna, we landed at Ben Gurion airport in the afternoon and proceeded to our hotel on the Mediterranean coast of Tel Aviv. The next day we boarded our van with 10 other pilgrims with our  guide Yaakov and driver Isaac and started our pilgrimage which would take us from Tel Aviv to our hotel in Tiberias (on the shores of the Sea of Galilee).

Tel Aviv- Yafo
Our first stop on the tour was the Old port of Jaffa (Yafo) which is now part of Tel Aviv. This sketch is of the Statue of Faith on the highest point of Old Jaffa. It features Jacob's dream, the sacrifice of Isaac ad the fall of Jericho. We also visited St. Peter's Church nearby.
My pen sketch for the Statue of Faith

Statue of Faith in Jaffa

We drove along the coast to the archaeological site of Caesarea built by Herod the Great about 25-13 BCE as a port city. The city was the seat of Judaea Province during the Roman Empire. The ruins of the old city is now a national park.

Remains of the Roman Aqueduct serving the city of Caesarea

Our next stop was Haifa, Israel's third largest city and a major seaport on Israel's northern Mediterranean coast and home to the Baha'i World Center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Baha'i World Center in Haifa

Mount Carmel (Muhraqa)
Then we went atop Mount Carmel to a place called Muhraqa,  where Elijah is believed to have resided and challenged 450 prophets to a contest at the altar to determine which deity was genuinely in control of the Kingdom of Israel. There is also a Stella Maris, Decalced Carmelite Sanctuary and Monastery on site.

Elijah's Monument on top of Mount Carmel
Tel Meggido (Armageddon)
We then proceeded to another World Heritage site, Tel Meggido, also known under its Greek name Armageddon. In ancient times, Tel Meggido was important due to its strategic location at the head of a pass at Carmel Ridge into Jezreel Valley.

Model of gate at Tel Meggido which I imagined overlooking Jezreel Valley

We drove southeast towards Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus and where Joseph lived and worked as a carpenter and the Virgin Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would conceive Jesus. It is a major Christian pilgrimage site and features the Church of the Annunciation and St. Joseph's Church, built on what tradition dictates as the site of the Annunciation and Joseph's house, respectively.

Church of Annunciation, Nazareth
with many depictions of Mary from different countries
Kfar Cana

Our last stop for the day before we reached our hotel in Tiberias was the Wedding Church run by the Franciscans in Kfar Cana or just Cana. Tradition places this site as where Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine occurred. The Franciscan Church is steps away from the Russian Orthodox Church also believed to be the site of the miracle. Since they are so close together, one can assume that this is the general vicinity of the miracle.

Russian Orthodox Wedding Church in Cana

Next: Watercolor Travel Journal- Sketches from the Holy Land Part 2 - Around the Sea of Galilee and the Northern Border of Israel