A trip to Jerusalem, especially if Christian, Muslim or Jewish, will want to include a visit to the Mount of Olives.
A great view over the Jerusalem where the Temple on the Mount is located, the old walls that included the Gates of Jubilee, and over the Garden of Gethsemane
My first visit here we went to an excellent souvenir shop and bought beautiful prayer shawls.
The customary camels are up for any tourists that want to pay some shekels to be seen on a camel, and there is a small shop nearby to buy drinks and snacks.
For the best panoramic view of the Old City, nothing beats the Mount of Olives - even with the eyesore of the 7 Arches Hotel (simply stand on the terraces built in front of it - you'll share it with camels and tourist touts).
You can get here as part of an organised trip (unquestionably the easiest), take a taxi or challenge yourself and walk! Up the Mount of Olives past Mary's Tomb, Garden of Gethsemane, All Nations Church, Flavius and the massed Jewish graveyard to the top.
Named after the prophet, the tomb highlights the influence of the Hellenic period. Supposedly the burial place of Zachariah, it is likely to be wrong as the tomb dates from the 1st century BC, whereas Zachariah died in the 6th century BC.
Next to the tomb is the Tomb of B'nei Hezir - a burial cave hewn out of the rock face, the opening of which is a Greek-style pediment framed by two columns. The Hezirs were a family of Jewish priests.
Spread across the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives (Har HaZeitim in Hebrew) is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world, with an estimated 150,000 graves, some of which have been there for more than 3000 years.
Those in the valley floor with their ornate tombs (see following tips) are individual attractions, but those sweeping up the hillside present a mass of white stone (except at sunset) seemingly as far as the eye can see when standing among them.
The Mount became an important Jewish site following the destruction of the Temple in 70AD - higher than Temple Mount the Jews could look across the valley to the ruins of their temple. Over time, many of the graves were desecrated, none more so than during the Jordanian control of East Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967 when an estimated 40,000 graves were vandalised with many destroyed with building of the Intercontinental Hotel (now the 7 Arches Hotel) and subsequent access road at the summit.
But the site has been restored and the summit and 7 Arches is an important part of any tour of old Jerusalem.
It si beyod the city walls to the east of Temple mount, this is one of the hills surrounding Jerusalem.The olives were cut during roman period and now the slope where olives used to be is the largest jewish cemetery of the world, having a tomb there is very expensive.
From the mount of olives you get a great view all over old Jerusalem, ask the taxi driver to take you to Seven Arches hotel which is just in front the best panorama.
Across the road from the Garden of Gethsemane and Church of all Nations is the claimed location by Eastern Christians of Mary's Tomb.
Now known by some as the Church of Theotokos (as Mary is known by many), there has been a church since the 5th century. Both the original building and the later Crusader edifice were destroyed by the invading Muslims, the crypt itself was untouched (Mary is also venerated in Muslim religion as the mother of the prophet Isa).
The entrance to the underground church is the only remains of the Crusader church and is on the same level as the Grotto of Gethsemane, a small cave to the left of the entrance claimed by some to be the actual tomb itself.
Most Eastern Christians, however, believe the tomb to be at the bottom of the 47 stairs leading from the Crusader facade (remembering that there is a counter claim that Mary's tomb is in Ephesus in Turkey). It is here she was buried but attained ascendancy after her death (from, according to the Roman Catholics, what is now the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion).
The Greek Orthodox Church control the site and the surrounds leading to the alter and tomb reflect the tastes - hundreds of oil lamps suspended from the hewn-out rockface, ornate shrines and frescoes.
Named after one of King David's sons, with the exception of the roof, the tomb is carved out of the hillside. The tomb dates from the 1st century BC. Behind the Pillar is the tomb of Jehoshaphat – a burial cave.
Below the walls of the Old City, is the 'Valley of God's Judgement' and this is where the day of Judgement will take place. You know the story (or maybe not -:)) - all mankind will assemble in the valley and two bridges will appear. Each of us will be directed to the bridge of iron or the bridge of paper. The iron bridge will collapse and that's the end of all of us on that one - those on the paper bridge will be promised eternal life.
It seems that the above story is not so well known - many people have emailed me to ask where it came from. I have no idea where I found this reference! But checking with a Lutheran Minister friend who lives in Jerusalem (and who had not heard the story before but loved it) believes its a derivation of a story from the 2nd century of St Enoch.
The highlight of this valley is the superb Jewish tombs, many from the time of the 2nd temple.
'The Lord Wept' is the translation of 'Dominus Flevit' and this is where Jesus is reputed to have wept for the foreseen destruction of Jerusalem.
The church itself is not that interesting - a 1950s tear shaped building. But excavations revealed a 5th century mosaic floor (on display) from a monastery. But it's the view from the garden terrace and the famed 'framed' view of the Old City through the window of the church (found on so many postcards of Jerusalem and in personal home collections - including mine :)) that many people climb the steep allwayway from the Church of Mary Magdalene.
Entry is free but as with the Church of Mary Magdalene, there is a strict dress code. Dominus Flevit is open daily (closed at lunchtime).
One of the most distinctive of all the religious buildings in Jerusalem – the seven gilded 'onion-domed' Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives. Part of the concentration of churches and monasteries at the base of the Mount of Olives (Gethsemane, Church of All Nations, Dominus Flevit etc), with the world's largest and oldest Jewish cemetry climbing up the hillside.
The Russian Church of Mary Magdalene was built in 1886 (although based on the much earlier Muscovite churches of the 16th & 17th centuries) by Alexander III in memory of his mother. It is now a convent – but only open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday, 10-12 noon (free entry).
The Church (and Mount of Olives) is easily reached through exiting St Stephen's Gate in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City or, if you want to walk round the walls from Dung Gate and the Jewish Quarter, cut through the Kidron Valley and the various tombs.
Note there is a dress code and no shorts (men) allowed and women should dress 'respectivefully'.
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