Christian tradition identifies this ancient basilica as the place where Jesus revealed himself to two disciples when he broke bread, after traveling several miles with them.
These are the ruins of Emmaus-Nicopolis, a place that has been revered since the first centuries of this era.
The Gospels state that in the stretch between Jerusalem and this place, Jesus appeared to comfort two disciples. They were leaving the Holy City, disillusioned after the crucifixion.
Pilgrims can now relive that experience. This is thanks to an initiative of the Saxum Foundation and 'JNF,' an Israeli NGO dedicated to the environment.
Saxum Visitor Center
“We have marked the way with a series of milestones every 600 feet. It's a road that partly already existed, because it is about 2,000 years old. It was an ancient Roman road that connected Jerusalem with Jaffo, which was the port at the time”
The path goes along a Mediterranean forest, where there are several archaeological sites explained through indicative panels. It is 11 miles in total, roughly a four-hour walk accessible to all visitors.
Saxum Visitor Center
“It's a really easy route, it's downhill. We are now about 2,600 feet above sea level and we go down to about 650 feet. Even though there are some uphill parts, it is a very easy road for all visitors, from five to 80 years old. Everyone can do it. It can be done. The important thing is to do it when it's not too hot during the day.”
At the end of the road there is a prize. The ruins of this basilica bear witness to a secular devotion, which today is guarded by the Community of the Beatitudes.
Community of the Beatitudes
“In the Byzantine time, here there was a city, called Nicopolis, and there was a big church built here. In fact, it was a cathedral because it was a bishopric here. In this church there was also a baptistery. This is a sign that a bishop lived here. We have here also ruins from Jewish tombs from the time of Jesus.”
In this place, pilgrims can now travel on roads filled with history in every step.