Determining the locations of Jesus’ final hours is surprisingly difficult. Jerusalem as a whole was sacked and destroyed in 70 CE, so that makes establishing the locations of “original sites” tricky.
There are many “venerated sites” in the city of Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Selpulchre, for example, claims to mark the hill where Jesus was crucified. But this site was only established in the fourth century — a few hundred years after the crucifixion.
Other sites have even more variation; for example, there are a variety of opinions on the location of the gate by which Jesus entered Jerusalem in a procession of palms.
The most debated location is of the public trial of Jesus by Pilate. The earliest pilgrimage routes located it at the Antonia Fortress directly behind the Temple. This would have been a dramatic embodiment of Roman dominance in Israel. Other sources suggest a different location: Herod the Great’s palace on the western side of the Upper City. This is reinforced by the reference in Mark, Matthew, and John’s gospels to the “praetorium” as the site of Jesus’ condemnation before the public. (Luke’s gospel does not mention where Jesus was taken to for his sentencing.) Pilate could have commandeered Herod’s palace, and its praetorium, for his own use.
These conflicting locations were resolved by using Luke’s timeline of events – which includes two visits to Pilate. Jesus is brought to Pilate by the chief priests and scribes, then sent to Herod Antipas for judgment, then returned to Pilate for sentencing (Lk 23:1-14). In these Passion Walks, Pilate’s declaration of Jesus’ innocence is in a different location than the final declaration of judgment and crucifixion. In this map, Jesus would be traveling from the council to the praetorium, then to judgment by Herod, then on to the Antonia Fortress behind the temple for final judgment, and down the traditional path of the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha.
Thus, the Passion Walk maps on the following assumed distances:
- From the Last Supper (in its traditional location at the Cenacle) to the place at the Mount of Olives (at Gethsemane): .7 mi
- From the Mount of Olives to the assembly of the elders (in its traditional location in the Upper City, just north of the Cenacle): .7 mi
- From the assembly to the praetorium in Herod the Great’s palace: .1 mi
- From the praetorium to the palace of Herod Antipas: .3 mi
- From Herod Antipas to the Antonia Fortress, .4 mi
- From the Antonia Fortress to Golgotha, the traditional Via Dolorosa: .4 mi