(TerraSanta.net) The multimedia section of the new Terra Sancta Museum was opened to the public on 17th March in Jerusalem. It stands in the complex of the Franciscan convent of the Flagellation, the seat of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum which us at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, in the walls of the old city, near the Lion’s Gate (or St. Stephen’s Gate).
The multimedia section, which is called Via Dolorosa, appears as an immersive environment which combines three dimensions; a historical-archaeological one, an emotional one and a spiritual one.
Through a journey in time in the history of Jerusalem, from the start of the Christian era until the present day, visitors can follow the urban evolution of the Holy City. The objective is to experience the places of the Via Dolorosa – along which groups of Christian pilgrims pray, meditating on the Via crucis – with greater awareness and which today are difficult to understand as they have been incorporated into the current architectural and urban structure of the city.
The visit lasts 15 minutes and is currently available in eight languages: Arabic, Hebrew, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The opening times are from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. every day (in the summer, it is open until 6.00 p.m.).
The place hosting this section of the museum is called the Lapidarium and until now had been used by the Franciscans to store fragments of ancient stones. It has now been completely transformed by architectural and restoration work which has brought to the light again the uniqueness of the place and, in particular: part of the Lithostrotos, the paved floor from Roman times which has engraved on it the signs of the famous Game of the King, of which all trace had been lost; the Herodian steps which in antiquity led to the famous pool of the Struthion, still preserved at the adjacent convent of the Sisters of Zion; exceptional architectonic fragments from the periods of Herod and Adrian found on the spot, including part of monumental inscription dedicated to the Emperor Adrian.
This first section of the Museum will be followed by two others (archaeological and historical) which are hoped to be completed by the end of 2017.
When the project, desired by the Custody of the Holy Land, is completed, the Terra Sancta Museum will have a total exhibition surface area of over 2,500 square metres and will be made up of three sections distributed in two sites close to one another; the Franciscan convents of the Flagellation and St. Saviour, both within the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.
With the Museum, the Custody intends to recall the attention of the Western world to this land, thanks to a permanent display of the treasures which it has received over the centuries. The museum has the aim of helping pilgrims and visitors from all over the world – but also the local communities of other religions – to better understand the history of Christianity in the places where it originated.
The Museum will have a strong educational vocation and will also contribute to illustrating the history of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land, as well as the authenticity and antiquity of the Christian sanctuaries, conformed by continuous archaeological research. It will also help the public understand the strong bond of the resident Christians with this land and the reasons why they remain there.