Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives is located East of Old City of Jerusalem. By Jewish tradition Mount of Olives is the place where the Heavenly presence (the Shekhina) is residing since the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. When the Temple will be rebuilt, according to that tradition, the Shechina will return to dwell in it. By Christian tradition Mount of Olives is where Jesus will appear upon his return, before his re-entry into Jerusalem, introducing the “Kingdom of Heaven”.
Visiting Mount of Olives
The top Mount of Olives is an Arab neighborhood called A-Tur. Nevertheless, it also bears many holy sites and points of interests:
Mount of Olives Viewpoint – Being at a higher elevation then Jerusalem, especially the southern end of Mount of Olives provides a grand panorama of Jerusalem’s Old city. No wonder this It is a popular photo opportunity, as well as a good place to ride a camel. Just don’t forget your camel driving license! 😉
Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery – The southern slopes of Mount of Olives are clustered with hundreds of Jewish tombs. Even in Canaanite times Mount of Olives was used also for burial, but since the Middle-Ages the Jews favor this mountain to bury their dead. It is both accessible from the Jewish Quarter, and is also believed to be the place where Messiah will first appear.
The Church of Pater Noster – Mount of Olives is also sacred to the Christian world, and several commemoration church have been built in and around it. Pater Noster church was first built by Empress Helena in the 4th century CE. By local Christian tradition this is the place where Jesus taught his disciples “The Lords’ prayer” (Luke 11).
Chapel of the Ascension – Nearby, at one of the mountain’s highest point, the “Chapel of the Ascension” marks by centuries’ old tradition the site where Jesus returned to the heavens after his resurrection (Acts 1). The church was later turned into a mosque and to this day it is maintained by Muslims. Nearby, at the Russian convent of the ascension, the bell tower at its summit offers one of the best panoramas of Jerusalem and the Judean Desert (!)
Dominus Flevit – Along the western Slopes of the mountain the church of “Dominus Flevit” is said to be where Jesus prophesized the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 19). A humble size chapel commemorates the event, facing a grand view of the Temple Mount.
Church of Mary Magdalene – Nearby, is a remarkable Russian Orthodox church known for its onion-shaped golden tombs. It commemorates Mary Magdalene, and bears the remains of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, as well as Princess Alice, the grandmother of King Charles.
Gethsemane – At the foot of the mountain, the Grotto of Gethsemane is said to be the site where Jesus and the disciples took shelter after conducting the Passover festive “seder” meal (the “Last Supper”). And a “stone throw away” is the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, by centuries’ old tradition, Jesus isolated himself and addressed God. This was followed by his arrest and interrogation by the Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas, and later his trial by the Roman Perfectus, Pontius Pilate.
Mary’s Tomb – At the lowest point of the Kidron valley is the site that marks Mary’s tomb. Although the New Testament does not provide any hint on her fate, by local tradition of the Eastern Church here she was buried, yet collected by Jesus and joined him in the heavens (“The Assumption of Mary”). The Tomb complex mostly reflects one of the building projects of the Crusaders queen Melisende.
Kidron Valley Tombs – South of Mary’s tomb site 2,000-year-old monumental-scale tombs reflects the wealth of the priestly families that operated the temple in the time of Jesus. One of the tombs is associated with by Christian tradition with Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist.
Stephanos Stoning site – Across the Kidron valley a Greek-Orthodox monastery maintains the tradition that it is built over the site where Stephanos was stoned to death for his belief of Jesus.