Jews and Christians enjoy new VR and multimedia exhibitions in the Old City of Jerusalem

A variety of high-tech religious attractions attract Jewish and Christian visitors and pilgrims Jerusalem getting richer

In July, after five years of work, Father Francesco Patton inaugurated the multimedia exhibition “Experiencing the Resurrection”, located at the Franciscan Christian Information Center located inside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City. The 200-square-meter (656-square-foot) installation, spread over six rooms, takes 40 minutes to display. Visitors choose from 13 languages ​​to listen to the multimedia presentation.

“The idea of ​​this exhibition is to provide pilgrims with more information about the city of Jerusalem in the time of Christ and its transformations throughout history, with a special focus on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Church of the Holy Sepulcher),” Patton said. Guardians of the Holy Land. The Custody of the Holy Land has represented Roman Catholics in Israel since 1217, when Saint Francis of Assisi founded the congregation.

“The exhibition is organized into six multimedia rooms,” noted Father Thomas Francisczek Dobiel, Director of CIC. Two explain to pilgrims the events leading up to Jesus’ resurrection, and three others explain what happened after the resurrection. The last room is a replica of Jesus’ tomb.

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The first room contains a model of the city of Jerusalem as it was 2000 years ago. The topographical dioramas give a sense of the physical location of the Second Temple, the seat of Pontius Pilate at the Citadel of Antonia, the Mount of Olives, and Golgotha ​​- the Roman execution ground.

The second room – thanks to virtual reality – takes viewers to the Olive Garden – also called Gethsemane, which means “place of the olive press” in Hebrew – and then to the slopes of Mount Zion, the place where Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed and finally to Golgotha, or Skull Hill. Wearing 3D goggles and sitting on swivel chairs, the 20 visitors are fully immersed in these sites and their historic atmosphere.

The third room displays a film on the history of Jerusalem, highlighting the main characters and events that affected the city from Roman times to the present.

Room Four chronicles the different stages of construction, demolition, and reconstruction of the 1,700-year-old Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Room Five explains the “status quo,” the unwritten rule regulating ownership, space use and prayer times for the five sects sharing the Holy Sepulcher with difficulty since 1852, when the Ottoman Caliph Abdülmecid I ordered in Istanbul, ‘Things, such as have been in operation until today, and will remain As it is at the moment, awaiting a final agreement.”

Room Six contains a replica of the rock-cut tomb in which Christ was laid on Friday shortly before sunset on Saturday, and from which Christians believe he was erected on Sunday morning.

“It’s really cool,” said Matteo, a pilgrim from Italy. “It’s so cool and really realistic!”

Admission is NIS 30 ($9), and NIS 25 ($7.50) for groups.

The soundtrack to The Resurrection Experience, composed by Mateusz Kobyalka of the Krakow Academy of Music, enhances the mystical experience of visitors.

Of course I am Catholic. “It was very moving for me (to write music),” he said. “I tried to build everything in all six rooms in one piece.”

His violin music was played by Dominika Rossimowska of Przymyel, Poland, a jazz and classical violinist who improvised using notes on an electronic scale to create a haunting Asian or Arabic vibe.

The “Resurrection Experience” is the second Franciscan educational attraction for Catholic pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem. In 2018, the brothers opened the Terra Sancta Museum in the Monastery of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa, dedicated to the archaeological and artistic heritage of Christianity in Israel. Like The Resurrection Experience, it includes a multimedia component away from its archaeological section.

The museum’s third section, displaying the many treasures donated by the royal courts of Europe to the Franciscans over the centuries, will open in 2023 in a 17th-century monastery of St. Savior’s Convent in the Old City’s Christian Quarter. These artifacts were displayed in 2016-2017 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in a historical exhibition titled “Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven.”

The future wing will also display the “Treasure of Bethlehem” – rare ritual objects, mostly made of silver and brass, from the Crusader period (1099-1291) discovered during the restoration of the rooms of the Franciscan monastery “St Catherine ad Nativitem” in Bethlehem between 1863 and 1906 The treasure, which was hidden to protect it from the plundering of the Muslim Mamluks, has likely been part of the sacred furniture of the Church of the Nativity for nearly a thousand years.

Jewish visitors to the Holy City who may not care too much about Franciscan attractions won’t want to miss the “Great Bridge,” a tour of a newly exposed section of ancient Jerusalem underground run by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. Opened in Hanukkah 2021, The tour differs from the classic Kotel Tunnels route that runs parallel to the Western Wall and is shown on the Via Dolorosa. At the attraction, one explores Wilson’s Arch, an ancient bridge that once carried Jewish pilgrims who arrived at Herod’s Temple.

“Fabulous!” said Sari Tahulian, a guide on the site. “Every time they (archaeologists) find a discovery, it’s a new part of your history.”

She explained that the huge bridge was built as a water channel and as an entrance for pilgrims to the temple. She added that it is likely that the Hasmoneans were first constructed, it was modified during the reign of King Herod, and perhaps again during the early Arab period by the Umayyads or the Abbasids.

“People see something new. It’s a new perspective on the Kotel,” she added.

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Tickets are 38 shekels for adults and 25 shekels for children. The tour takes an hour.

For another perspective on the temple, this one in ultra-realistic 3D virtual reality, don’t miss “A Look Back” from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. David Keenan has worked on the site since it opened in 2017. “People love to see the temple in 3D. It’s crazy. There is a lot of demand,” he said.

Like the Western Wall Tunnels, the entrance to the attraction is located on the north side of the Western Wall plaza. Tickets for the 10-minute experience are NIS 31 for adults and NIS 16 for kids.

These four sites, two Jewish and two Christian, allow visitors to appreciate the exaggeration by the Talmudic sages who declared, “Ten measures of beauty were given to the world. Jerusalem received nine while the rest of the world received one.” (Kiddushin 49a-b)

Everything is available today in an air-conditioned splendor.

Jill Zohar was born in Toronto, Canada and moved to Jerusalem, Israel in 1982. He is a journalist who writes for the Jerusalem Post, Sigula magazine, and other publications. He is also a professional tour guide who loves to weave multiple Holy Land narratives.

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