Legend has it that almost immediately after the cruci fixion of Jesus, his followers began to retrace his steps to Calvary. The term Via Dolorosa (The Way of Sor-rows) was popularized in the 16th century and its four teen stations were standardized by the Franciscans during the 19th century. This route led from the Antonia Fortress, where Jesus appeared before Pilate and was condemned, out to Calvary (called Golgotha in Greek), which was outside the city walls at that time. See the Church of The Holy Sepulchre, The Church of St. Peter and the Tomb of Lazarus.
Also, a few miles south resided the town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most sacred sites in Jerusalem. The quarry here was once an execution grounds outside the city’s gates, with a hill plainly visible to everyone traveling to or from the city. It was called Golgotha, from the Hebrew word (golgolet), or (skullo), which is what the hill resembled. In addition, there is a legend that Adam was buried here. Near Golgotha were many stone tombs which had been hewn into the surrounding bedrock. The area was incorporated by the Emperor Hadrian into his new city, Aelia Capitolina, as a Forum and Temple area. Hadrian built this new pagan city over the ruins of Jerusalem, which he had completely destroyed in retaliation for a major Jewish revolt.
Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu
The name given to this church records the episode in which Peter denied the Master three times after the crow of the rooster. The actual church, consecrated in 1931 and belonging to the Assumptionists of Catholic denornination, rises over the ruins of a preexistent Byzantine basilica. Someone has hypothesised that this was the site of the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, but it has not as of yet been confirmed. What has been brought to light meanwhile, is a beautiful street of steps called the Maccabean Stairs, which in the first century A. D. must have joined Mount Zion to the valley of the Kidron.
Fortunately, Hadrian didn’t level the rocks into which the tombs were dug for the construction of his Capitoline Temple. Instead, he limited himself to filling those spaces and leveling them off by placing large quantities of earth around them. By doing so, he created a base for the temple, an enormous terrace that preserved the tombs from destruction
The Tomb of Lazarus
It is written in the Gospel of St. John: There was an ill man, a certain Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and Martha, his sister. Bethany was about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem.
Lazarus’ tomb is reached by descending 24 steep steps put there in the 17th century. Here, the body of Lazarus was resuscitated by the words of Jesus.