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Mount of Olives

THe Mount of Olives (جبل الزيتون), also known as al-Tur (الطور‎), is a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem's Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The southern part of the Mount was the Silwan necropolis, attributed to the ancient Judean kingdom.


It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The Mount of Olives is one of three peaks of a mountain ridge which runs for 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) just east of the Old City across the Kidron Valley, in this area called the Valley of Josaphat. The peak to its north is Mount Scopus, at 826 metres (2,710 feet), while the peak to its south is the Mount of Corruption, at 747 m (2,451 ft).

The highest point on the Mount of Olives is at-Tur, at 818 m (2,684 ft). The ridge acts as a watershed, and its eastern side is the beginning of the Judean Desert. The ridge is formed of oceanic sedimentary rock from the Late Cretaceous and contains a soft chalk and a hard flint. While the chalk is easily quarried, it is not a suitable strength for construction and features many man-made burial caves.

Historical Significance


From Biblical times until the present, Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives. The necropolis on the southern ridge, the location of the modern village of Silwan, was the burial place of Jerusalem's most important citizens in the period of the Biblical kings.

Several key events in the life of Jesus, as related in the Gospels, are also said to have taken place on the Mount of Olives, and in the Acts of the Apostles it is described as the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven.


The religious ceremony marking the start of a new month was held on the Mount of Olives in the days of the Second Temple. Roman soldiers from the 10th Legion camped on the mount during the Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. After the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews celebrated the festival of Sukkot on the Mount of Olives. They made pilgrimages to the Mount of Olives because it was 80 meters higher than the Temple Mount and offered a panoramic view of the Temple site. It became a traditional place for lamenting the Temple's destruction, especially on Tisha B'Av.



Church of All Nations
The Basilica of Agony or the Church of All Nations at the Jabl-i Zaitoon (Mount of Olives) is a Roman Catholic church, believed to enshrine a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. It was buit in May 1924 on the foundations of two earlier churces, one 12th century Crusader chapel and a fourth century Byzantine basilica.


Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene
The Church of Mary Magdalene, at the Mount of Olives, is a Russian Orthodox church located on the Mount of Olives, near the Garden of Gethsemane in East Jerusalem. Built in 1886 by Tsar Alexander III to honor his mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. The convent is located directly across the Kidron Valley from the Haram al-Sharif. The church is dedicated to Mary Magdalene, the companion of Jesus.


Dominus Flevit Church
View of the Dominus Flevit Church from the courtyard, a Roman Catholic church on the Mount of Olives, opposite the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is constructed in the shape of water drop to commemorate the Flevit super illam event as mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. The site of Christ's weeping was unmarked until the Crusader era. It was during this time that people began commemorating the site.


Pater Noster
Church of Pater Noster at the Mount of Olives. It is part of a Carmelite monastery', also known as the Sanctuary of the Eleona (Domaine de l'Eleona). The modern Church of the Pater Noster is built right next to the site of a fourth-century basilica commissioned by Constantine I to commemorate the Ascension of Jesus Christ. The Church of the Pater Noster stands right next to the ruins of the 4th-century Byzantine Church of Eleona.

Garden of Gethsemane


Gethsemane at the foot of Mount of Olives, to the left is the Church of all Nations, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus' crucifixion. The Garden of Gethsemane became a focal site for early Christian pilgrims. It was visited in 333 by the anonymous "Pilgrim of Bordeaux".



Mosque/Chapel of Ascension
Chapel of Ascension at the Mount of Olives is now situated inside the courtyard of a 12th century Ayyubid mosque. Situated in the al-Tur district of Jerusalem, traditionally believed to be the earthly spot where Jesus ascended into Heaven forty days after his resurrection, according to the christian tradition. It houses a slab of stone believed to contain one of his footprints. It is part of a larger complex consisting first of a Christian church and monastery, then an Islamic mosque.

Jewish Cemetery


Jewish Cemetery on Mount of Olives. The cemetery contains around 70,000 burials some dating back to 3,000 years, including the tombs of famous figures in Jewish history. During the First and Second Temple Periods the Jews of Jerusalem were buried in burial caves scattered on the slopes of the Mount, and from the 16th century the cemetery began to take its present shape. The old Jewish cemetery sprawled over the slopes of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Kidron Valley (Valley of Jehoshaphat).

Notable Historic Tombs


Tomb of Mary
The entrance to the Tomb of Mary within the courtyard of the Crusader era (circa. 1130 CE) Church of the Virgin Mary. The cave is located in an underground rock-cut cave in the valley of Jehoshaphat, on the foothills of Mount of Olives. Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary, also Tomb of the Virgin Mary, is a Christian tomb in the Kidron Valley – at the foot of Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem – believed by Eastern Christians to be the burial place of Mary, the mother of Jesus.


Benei Hezir Tomb
The Tomb of Benei Hezir is ancient cave tomb in eastern Jerusalem. Located in the Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery in the Kidron Valley, it dates back to the Second Temple period. The Tomb of Benei Hezir, previously known to Christians as the tomb of Saint James, is the oldest of four monumental rock-cut tombs that stand in the Kidron Valley, Jerusalem. It is a complex of burial caves. The tomb was originally accessed from a single rock-cut stairwell which descends to the tomb from the north. The tomb of Absalom or the Pillar of Absalom is also visible next (right) of the Benei Hezir tomb.



See Also


Points of Interest

Churches & Chapels




Tombs & Burials