Walking the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem: Route and History

By Alice Bassett
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published April 5, 2022.

Woman walking in sandstone passageway next to wooden cross

Via Dolorosa is a Latin phrase directly translating to "The Way of Suffering." This is an appropriate name for the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, as it was the path taken by Jesus Christ on his way to being crucified. He carried his own cross and wore a crown of thorns while he walked this route, so the name is fitting.

Today, the Via Dolorosa is a popular site for Christian pilgrims and tourists alike. You can walk along the Via Dolorosa and stop at various stations, all of which mark milestones in Christ's walk.

History of Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa does not describe one street but rather multiple streets, which together compile the route taken by Christ as he walked with the cross. Throughout history, Christians have made their pilgrimage from the Mount of Olives down to Jerusalem and along Via Dolorosa. Today, its architecture and presence are enough to attract tourists from every background.

How to Walk the Via Dolorosa

Walking along the Via Dolorosa will take roughly an hour, but perhaps longer depending on how long you intend to stay at each station. It is a mostly effortless walk and can likely be completed by anybody. You can book a tour guide to explain where to go and detail the history for you, but it is not necessary.

There are 14 stations in total along the Via Dolorosa: 9 stations of the cross and 5 from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The walk begins inside Jerusalem's old city, and the different stations are all marked with plaques.

Station One

This station is the place where Jesus is handed over to and condemned by Pontius Pilate. Today there is a school called the Madrasa al-Omariya.

And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. —Matthew 27:2 - NKJV

Station Two

Here, Jesus was scourged and handed the cross to carry.

Station Three

Along his journey, Jesus fell three times. Station three marks a point on his journey where Jesus fell to his knees under the weight of the cross for the first time. There is currently a chapel on Al-Wad street called the Polish Catholic Chapel, at the point where it happened.

Station Four

At this station, Jesus saw his mother, Mary, watching in the crowd.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” —John 19:25-26, NKJV

Station Five

We are also introduced to Simon of Cyrene, as he took up the cross for Jesus.

Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus. —Luke 23:26, NKJV

Station Six

St. Veronica wiped Jesus' face with her own veil very close to the previous station.

Station Seven

This station is on Souq Khan al-Zeit street and is reportedly the place where Jesus fell for the second time.

Station Eight

At this station, Jesus encountered some of his followers weeping for him and consoled them.

And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." —Luke 23:27-28, NKJV.

Station Nine

This station marks the place where Jesus fell for the third and final time.

Station Ten

Here, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Christ was stripped of his clothes.

And they divided His garments and cast lots. And the people stood looking on. —Luke 23:33, NKJV.

Station Elven

This is the point where Christ was nailed to the cross.

Station Twelve

This is where Christ died on the cross.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. —Matthew :50, NKJV.

Station Thirteen

This is where Jesus was taken down from the cross. You can find many individuals praying at the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows for this event happening.

Station Fourteen

Station fourteen is the tomb in which Jesus was buried and then resurrected.

Walking along the Via Dolorosa is a truly humbling and introspective journey. It is recommended for both Christian and non-Christian tourists, as it is brimming with both religious and historical significance. It is something we recommend that everyone do if they have the opportunity.