Exciting news for citizens of the world
For some thirty years now, our team has been working with people from across the United States and around the world, creating global travel programs to help transform individuals and organizations. We have heard from thousands of travelers about how our programs have changed their lives. And just as lives have been changed by global travel, global travel has been changing.
Recent news from around the world
Tower of David Museum - Jerusalem
Up an old winding spiral staircase next to the ancient ramparts of the Old City walls, hidden behind an unassuming metal door of a long narrow rectangular building are the excavations carried out more than 10 years ago that show the timeline of Jerusalem … from British Mandate back to the First Temple Period, 8th century BC and these excavations have just been made available for the general public to go and visit. The excavations really are spectacular in as much as it is well known that Jerusalem’s history is long and colorful, with layer upon layer of history of different rulers etc – but nowhere else in Jerusalem is this so evidently clear as it is in this small space.
The Kishle building, adjacent to the Tower of David, the ancient citadel that guards Jerusalem’s Old City at the Jaffa Gate entrance, was built in 1860 as an Ottoman prison or army barracks. The prison was then used as such by the British during Mandate times .. and then left desolate until the Tower of David Museum decided to clear up the iron prison cells and create a new wing for the Education Department. As with any digging in Jerusalem, the clearing up became excavations .. and close to 3000 years of history was discovered under “the floorboards”. The excavations were carried out in 1999-2000 by Amit Re’em, Jerusalem District Archeologist together with his team from the Israel Antiquities Authority and since then the building has been left intact. Read More.
Early Christian Rome
Rome is increasingly regarded as one of the most important destinations for visiting early Christian sites. Several new venues are expected to open including the Catacomb of St. Pretestato where important early Christian sarcophagi have been found (some are on display in the Vatican Museum). The Roman Forum continues to open new areas to visitors including the Severian Arched platform (overlooking the Circus Maximus) and Santa Maria Antiqua - one of the oldest churches dedicated to Mary. It was built in the 6th century converting a previous Roman structure into a church. Another interesting site in the Forum is the Temple of Romulus which is the vestibule of the Church of Saints Cosma and Damiano. Saints Cosma and Damiano was the first church dedicated in the Forum (5th century)- likely constructed out of part of the Temple of Peace. The beautiful round temple of Romulus was connected to this and formed a beautiful entry to the Christian site. The Roman Senate building is now reopened and provides a great opportunity to underscore the religious function of Roman political deliberations.
The Vatican Museum is one of the most visited sites in Rome – containing a vast collection of both ancient and Renaissance art including the majestic Sistine Chapel. Often overlooked is the Pio-Christian section of the museum. This is perhaps the most important single collection of early Christian art in the world – a large display of funerary fragments and intact marble sarcophagi. The pieces illustrate a number of interesting dynamics in Christianity’s attempt to give artistic expression to religious belief including crypto-Christian efforts to use pagan symbolism in new ways, later more distinctive Christian imagery and finally more triumphant depictions of Jesus in the form of Apollo or Augustus after the time of Constantine. A great site for exploring the evolution of this art can be found at: sarcophagus-of-junius-bassus
Camino Ignaciano in Spain
Most are familiar with the Camino de Santiago - the pilgrimage route from various parts of Europe that lead across northern Spain to the tomb of St. James in far northwestern Spain. Recently, the Jesuits have inaugurated a similar camino from Loyola to Montserrat, tracing the journey of St. Ignatius to the great Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat. The route inspires reflection and contemplation as pilgrims travel across the breathtaking broad landscape of La Rioja, Navarra and Aragon. Learn more
Roman Terrace Houses in Ephesus
Don’t miss the newly excavated and recently opened Terrace Houses in Ephesus. These opulent Roman villas include a massive triclinium (dining room), mosaic-floored courtyards, frescoed bedrooms, a large basilica reception hall and many other rooms, corridors and living spaces. The villas require a special entrance fee/ticket. Archaeologists have created a unique raised walkway that provides a bird’s-eye view of these impressive monuments. Visiting the villas is an evocative experience and helps people gain an appreciation for the life and institutions of the people who lived here. See some YouTube videos of the villas:
Jerusalem Archaeological Park and the Davidson Center
A new archaeological park has opened adjacent to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount Excavations. The park includes The Davidson Center with interactive exhibits and reconstructions of various historical epochs in Jerusalem. The site provides an excellent opportunity for people to explore the history of Jerusalem and to understand the various religious traditions that have left their mark here. The website for the new site is: http://www.archpark.org.il/intro.asp
The much beloved model of Jerusalem during the 2nd Temple period has been moved to the Israel Museum where a spectacular setting next to the Shrine of the Book allows visitors to Jerusalem to better understand historical sites they see in the city. Learn more
Episcopal Church Builds New Church in Jerusalem
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has recently renovated St. Paul's Church in Jerusalem. It was originally built in 1873 to serve indigenous Arab Christians. In recent years it remained closed. The decision to renovate and reopen it serves as an important affirmation of the Church's life there and renewed commitment to fostering peace, justice and a vibrant local Christian community. Illume invites Episcopalian groups to incorporate a visit here as a gesture of solidarity and opportunity to learn more about the local Christian community. Learn more:
We believe the world could use a dose of friendly, positive change. Guiding travelers on journeys to places that have inspired change in human history motivates us to offer the most skilled, precise, and experienced travel service available—Illume.
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