The Kingdom of Jerusalem
Today’s tour will take us back to the medieval period, one of the bloodiest and gruesome eras in the history of the Holy Land: The Kingdom of Jerusalem.
(For in depth historical information, please read the blog.)
We shall visit the farms, fortresses, towns and cities at the heart of the Kingdom, including the ports of Acre and Caesarea.
See the great Crusader castles and churches, and the battlefields of Hattin.
We start with Jerusalem the first capital of the Crusader kingdom.
The Holy City of Jerusalem
Jerusalem was controlled by a number of military orders. The first order was the Knights Hospitaller, which was established to provide medical assistance to Christian pilgrims who travelled to Jerusalem from Europe via Yaffo. Later, the order took on military missions to fight against Muslims. Its headquarters was in a place that is now known as the Church of the Redeemer, close to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The second order was the Knights Templar, founded in 1118. Its official function and duty was to protect the Kingdom in the Holy Land and the pilgrims’ access to the holy places. The Templars also provided a formidable military force that included thousands of soldiers, with several hundred knights. The Templars established their headquarters at Al-Aqsa Mosque and over time added complex structures and strengthened the fortifications including their western stronghold known today as The Tower of “David”.
The third order established to protect the Holy Land was the Teutonic Knights known as The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem originally founded as a military order in the 12th century (c.1190) in Acre.
Emperor Frederick II elevated Hermann von Salza to the status of “Prince of the Empire”, enabling the Grand Master to negotiate with other senior princes as an equal. During Frederick’s coronation as King of Jerusalem in 1225, Teutonic Knights served as his escort in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; however, the Teutonic Knights were never as influential as the older Templars and Hospitallers.
We will begin our Crusader tour of Jerusalem at the Tower of “David” the Templar knight’s stronghold; from there we advance to Mt. Zion to visit the Coenaculum then the Christian Quarter towards the Hospitaller knight’s center and from there to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for which its destruction was one of the casus belli for the Crusades. We continue towards the Jewish Quarter where the German hospice and the headquarters of the Teutonic knights existed some 840 years ago.
If we have time, we will also visit one of the few churches left intact from the crusader period, the Church of St Anne erected near the remains of the Byzantine basilica sometime between 1131 and 1138, during the reign of Queen Melisende. It was, over the site of a grotto believed by the Crusaders to be the childhood home of Mary, mother of Yeshua. The church is dedicated to Anna and Joachim, the parents of Mary.
By bus, taxi or private tour.