Mount of Olives Walking Tour of Jerusalem (Self Guided), Jerusalem

The Mount of Olives is on the east side of the Old City of Jerusalem. Here you will see the magnificent churches that are also biblical sites, a very old cemetery with tombs of the Prophets. For many people this is a holy place as God is always present here. The following self-guided tour will lead you through the Mount of Olives landmarks:
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Mount of Olives Walking Tour of Jerusalem Map

Guide Name: Mount of Olives Walking Tour of Jerusalem
Guide Location: Israel » Jerusalem (See other walking tours in Jerusalem)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Pater Noster Church

1) Pater Noster Church

The Pater Noster Church is built on the site in Jerusalem where Jesus was thought to have taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. The name in Latin means “Our Father.” It is almost impossible to tell if this spot is the exact location of the teaching, we only know that the he did teach in a cave on the Mount of Olives.

The first church to be built on this site was commissioned by Constantine in 330, and that church suffered heavy damage in 614 at the hands of the Persians. The Crusaders built a small oratory, or place of worship that is not intended for the public, on the site amid the rubble in 1106. That location was badly damaged in 1187 and finally left to ruin in 1345. In 1874 reconstruction was begun and still remains unfinished.

The rebuild was the work of the Princess de La Tour d‘Auvergne. She loved the Lord’s Prayer and had it added to several of the tile plaques there. She was very sure the cave existed, but it was not found before her death. Her remains now rest at the Pater Noster Church in the tomb.

There are, however, still lots to see at the church, including 62 exquisitely tiled plaques that have the Lord’s Prayer written in 62 different languages. Even though just partially rebuilt, the original size of the church has been maintained. There are steps leading into the grotto where the teachings were said to have occurred. Sadly, very little of the original stone work still remain. There is also a garden that stands outside the three doors that give an accurate idea of how large the atrium was.

There are no entrance fees to see the Church, hours are M-Sat: 8:30-11:45; 3-5. It is closed on Sunday.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chapel of the Ascension

2) Chapel of the Ascension (must see)

The Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem is a house of worship that is sacred to both Christians and Muslims. It is believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. In addition, there is a stone located here that supposedly is an imprint of Jesus’ feet.

Before the point in history where Emperor Constantine was converted to the faith, early believers held special celebrations honoring Christ’s return to heaven in a small cave located on the Mount of Olives. Most likely, the cavern was used for safety and security of the worshippers. By circa 380, though, the place was well known as the location of Jesus’ return to heaven. This was even recorded in the annals of history by the noted writer Egeria.

The first official house of worship was built here around 390 by Poimenia, who was a famous Roman Lady of means. The original church was leveled during a war with Persia around 613. Modestus had it restored not soon after. By 680 A.D. there are historical records that pointed to the fact the place was reported to have the footprints of Jesus. Pilgrims would even take home dust from the place as a religious relic.

A church with the famous eight sides was built by the Crusaders circa 1150. In 1198, Salah al-Din was instrumental in the addition of a stone dome and mihrab. Muslims consider the place to be holy, despite the lack of any mention of the event in the Qu’ran. The event of Jesus’ ascension is also considered to be factual. The place continued to be a mosque for many centuries to come.

The building fell into ruin through the years. The east section of the wall was sealed off to form the shrine that stands to this very day. A mosque was built next to the chapel. This happened in 1620; all the property is still in Muslim hands.

If you want to visit this place, try to do so when there are not too many people inside. Also, try to come before or after prayer time (before or after noon).
Old Jewish Cemetery

3) Old Jewish Cemetery

The Old Jewish Cemetery is on the western and southern slopes of the Mount of Olives. It is the oldest continually used Jewish Cemetery in the world. Jewish legend says that those buried on the Mount of Olives will be the first to be resurrected when the Messiah comes.

The oldest tombs in the cemetery are located at the foot of the Mount in the Kidron Valley. Absalom, the son of David is thought to be buried here as well as Zechariah, the priest of the First Temple. One of the tombs has an inscription bearing the name of a family that lived 2,000 years ago. Burials have continued. They are only being interrupted during the period between the Arab-Israeli war and the Six Day War (1948-1967). Meacham Begin and his wife Eliza are buried here as well as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura.

There is a visitor’s center near Absalom’s Tomb that is an invaluable stop if looking for a particular tomb or grave. Visitors can enter from several different points on the paved road from the top of the Mount of Olives to the bottom of the Mount ending at the Basilica of the Agony.

Traditionally, a stone is placed on the cenotaph or grave stone to denote a visit.
Church of St. Mary Magdalene

4) Church of St. Mary Magdalene

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is a beautiful Russian Orthodox house of worship in Jerusalem. It is located on the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and was built in 1886 under the direction of Tsar Alexander III. He built the church to honor his mother, and dedicated it to Mary Magdalene.

The church is built in classic 17th century Russian style and has seven onion domes that are gilded. They are quite impressive. The building is easily visible from points around Jerusalem; however, it really deserves a stop while visiting the city. Inside the church are several murals that depict the life of Mary Magdalene. Also in the church is an icon of the Mother of God. There have been miracle healings attributed to this place.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is the resting place for Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia who was martyred along with another nun during the Russian Revolution in 1917. Also buried here is Princess Alice of Battenberg who was also known as Princess Andrew of Greece. She was responsible for harboring Jews when the Nazis occupied her country, in order to help keep them alive. She is also the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Garden of Gethsemane

5) Garden of Gethsemane (must see)

The Garden of Gethsemane lies at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. The name means “oil press” and most certainly refers to the fact that this area was used to press olive oil in the time of Jesus. It is now walled, but it is still a lovely place to visit and perhaps pray.

The Church of All Nations was built here in 1924. This house of worship is also known as the Basilica of the Agony. Two other holy places have also occupied this spot. One was a Byzantine-style building built in the fourth century and destroyed around 750. The Crusaders built a chapel on the spot in the 12 century which also was demolished.

The Garden of Gethsemane still has olive trees on the grounds. Although there is some dispute about exactly how old they are, there may be some on the grounds that were around during the time of Jesus. There is some evidence that the original plants were destroyed by fighting and in an effort to destroy this very religious place, but the general consensus is that some of the roots did survive.

Olive trees have a long life span, so it is not an outrageous thought that some of them shaded the grounds then, just as they do today. These plants grow wider instead of taller, so the very wide ones are the oldest. They still produce fruit and are harvested in late September or early October. As you leave, you might want to offer the gatekeeper a few shekels for a stroll through the private garden.

This beautiful Garden is where Jesus and the disciples came to pray. He was said to have prayed so reverently at one time that he sweat blood. He most likely entered the city on Palm Sunday, by going through this place, through the gate that has long since been walled up. This is also the location of the famous betrayal by Judas Iscariot.

Make sure you cover up (shoulders covered and shorts come below your knees, etc.) or you will be refused entry.
Mary's Tomb

6) Mary's Tomb (must see)

Mary’s Tomb is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Kidron Valley. This is the traditional place of the burial for Mary, the mother of Jesus according to Eastern Christian thinking. The burial cave was first cut out of rock in the 1st century CE although the date of the cave has never been verified. A cross-shaped church was added with the tomb at its center.

In the 6th century, a church was built on top of the tomb. This was destroyed in 614. The Crusaders rebuilt the church and enlarged it. The Abbey of St. Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat was also added. Saladin destroyed the church and monastery in 1187. However, during all of these conquests and destruction St. Mary’s Tomb was left untouched. Because Mary is the mother of Jesus who is considered a prophet to Muslims, the crypt was left untouched, and well preserved over the centuries.

In the 14th century CE the church now standing was built and it is currently occupied by the Greek Orthodox Church. Inside the church are several chapels. The chapel of St. Joseph, Mary’s husband, and the chapel of Joachim and Anne, Mary’s parents are there as well as the tomb of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem. On the other side of the church (east) is the chapel of Mary’s Tomb. There is a mihrab there indicating the direction of Mecca, and Muslims are granted use of this area to pray. There are three holes cut into the wall of the tomb to allow visitors to actually be able to touch the inside.

Why You Should Visit:
The tomb is very well maintained and it is certainly something Christians should like to see.
The church is the only one in the world where you go DOWN the steps to enter.

Admission is free and it is open from 6 until noon, closing for lunch like many Holy Sites and re-opening from 2:30-5pm.
Tomb of Zechariah

7) Tomb of Zechariah

The Tomb of Zechariah is located in the Kidron valley at the foot of the Mount of Olives. There are several monuments in this area, but this is the only one capped with a triangular shape. This grand monument is cared entirely of rock and in fact is carved out of the mountainside of rock. It was truly a grand feat to accomplish and was probably cut in the 1st century BCE. There is written documentation of the site in 1215 CE.

Zechariah lived in the 9th century BCE and was the son of the priest, Jehoiada. He was stoned to death in the First Temple after warning the people about not obeying the commandments. King Yoash ordered the death sentence. Jewish tradition says this is his burial place. There was also a prophet named Zehariah who lived in the 6th century BCE in the Second Temple period who should not be confused with the son of Jehoiada.

Prayers are often offered at this site especially during the month of AV. Stories abound of prayers for rain being answered when praying at this site. The Tomb sits amid a large Jewish cemetery. The opening at the bottom was discovered while clearing away brush and debris. Next to this site are several other tombs known as the Bnei-Hezir.
Tomb of Benei Hezir

8) Tomb of Benei Hezir

The Bnei Hazir tomb is the oldest of four burial monuments which stand in the Kidron Valley, Jerusalem and date to the period of the Second Temple. It is a complex of burial caves. The tomb was originally accessed from a single rock-cut stair-well which descends to the tomb from the north. At a later period of time an additional entrance was created by quarying a tunnel from the courtyard of the Tomb of Zechariah. This is also the contemporary entrance to the burial complex. The facade of the tomb is a classical dystillos-in-antis two pillars between two pilasters above which there is an undecorated architrave containing an engraved Hebrew inscription. Above the architrave there is a Doric frieze and a cornice. The tomb's architectural style is influenced by ancient Greek architecture only (two pillars with Dorian capitals), without ancient Egyptian architectural influences.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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