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Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Israel, serves as the national cemetery and a memorial site. It honors prominent figures in Israeli history, foremost Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, who is buried at its top.

History of Mount Herzl

In 1949, at the end of the War of Independence, the first Israeli government, led by Ben-Gurion, decided to establish its national institutions in Jerusalem. The ridge of Givat Ram became the site of the Israeli parliament building (the Knesset), the National Museum (Israel Museum), and later the Supreme Court. At the city’s edge, a mountaintop above Ein-Karem was designated as the burial site of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement. Herzl died in 1904 in Vienna, but in his will, he asked that if the State of Israel be formed, he would like to be reburied in its land.

Rules, and Exceptions..

Ben-Gurion’s government declared that Israeli leadership would be buried around Herzl’s tomb, but even Ben-Gurion didn’t follow this rule. In his own will, Ben-Gurion asked to be buried in Sde Boker, in the Negev desert. As of 2020, only half of Israel’s National leadership who passed away are buried around Herzl’s tomb. Israel also decided to establish next to mount Herzla a military cemetery and the National Holocaust museum – Yad Vashem. These sites are a stark reminder of the terrible death toll in achieving and maintaining the Zionist Ideal.

Touring Mount Herzl

Mount Herzl is open every day of the week and is visited by many tourists, youth groups, and soldiers. A visitor’s center next provides a valuable presentation of the life and legacy of Theodor Herzl. Around Herzl’s tomb are the burials of various national leaders, such as Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and more. For a Zionist, having a walking tour from Yad Vashem to Mount Herzl through the military cemetery is a compelling experience.

A tour of Mount Herzl can be combined with a guided day tour of Jerusalem.

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