Jerusalem From The Mount Of Olives
This view of Jerusalem from The Mount of Olives is one of the most majestic views in Jerusalem and Israel. Rising high above the Old City, this vantage point enables viewers to spot many of the Landmarks and sites of the Old City, as well as the topography, evolution and uniqueness of the Holy City.
Church of Mary Magdalene
Located on the Mount of Olives, the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene was built in 1888 by the Russian Tsar Alexander the 3rd commemorating Mary Magdalene, one of the disciples of Jesus. The church was designed in the tented roof style popular in Russia in the 16th and 17th century while the newly refurbished 7 golden domes of the church add great splendor and uniqueness to its surrounding. Buried there are princess Alice of Greece whose remains were transferred there in 1988, as well as the Martyred nuns Varvara Yakovleva and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia.
The Hurva Synagogue
The Hurva Synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was first established in 1700 by a group of European Jews who came to the Holy Land under the leadership of Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid. Due to their failure to return the loans taken for building the synagogue, the creditors destroyed the synagogue in 1721 giving it its name “Hurva” which means “Ruin” in Hebrew. The site remained mostly desolated until 1856 when it was rebuilt with the financial aid of Moses Montefiore. The synagogue was built in the neo-Byzantine style popular at that time in the Ottoman Empire which can be seen in the arches and dome roof. The synagogue was demolished once more during the 1948 War by the Jordanian forces and remained so until 2010 when it was newly reconstructed according to the original neo-Byzantine style of the 19th century.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest church in Christianity (excluding Protestantism). Also known as the Church of the Resurrection, the church stands where it is believed that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected - Calvary or Golgotha.
Six different Christian sects share responsibility and conduct their worship in the church and its courts, among them are Roman-Catholics, Greek-Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. The desire of each denomination to obtain as many privileges regarding the basilica and Sepulchre has been a source of friction for centuries and has yielded an agreement regulating and allocating the activities of each denomination in the Church. The first church on this site was built in 326 AD by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, Soon after his conversion to Christianity. It is said that his mother, Helena, had found part of the Cross of Jesus near the Tomb while the church was being built.
The church has undergone vast renovations and constructions over the years while most of the additions had been made by the Crusaders in the 12th Century. The architectural style of the Church is an indication of its turbulent past with a mixture of Medieval-Romanesque, Byzantine and modern aspects. Among the main focal points of the Church are:
• The Calvary/Golgotha – where it is believed that Jesus was crucified.
• The Stone of Unction/Anointing - where it is believed Jesus was laid and prepared for burial.
• The Holy Sepulchre – the Tomb of Jesus, located at the center of the Rotunda, a circular structure covered by a dome.
Literally translated as “The Distant Mosque”, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located nearby the dome of the rock and is the third most holy site in Sunni Islam. According to Muslim tradition, during “The Night Journey” Muhammad traveled from the Mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Originally the Al-Aqsa mosque was a small prayer house erected in 710 AD. It was expanded and rebuilt 5 times over the years due to damage caused by earthquakes and wars. As the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they converted the Mosque into the headquarters of the Knights Templar and served as a church and palace for the Crusader kings. In 1187 Saladin restored its status as a mosque and it has been repaired and renovated by the Ayyubis, Mamluks, Ottomans and various Islamic bodies and organizations ever since. In 1951 the Jordanian King Abdullah was assassinated in the southern part of the mosque. Despite its silver dome paling in comparison to the dome of the rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is rich with ornaments and serves as an interesting blend of different architectural styles and periods. The mosque has the capacity to host over 5000 worshipers and is administered by the Islamic Waqf.
Dome of the Rock
Built by Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik in 691 AD, the Dome of the Rock is the most famous Muslim site in Jerusalem and has become an inseparable part of the Jerusalem skyline. Similarly to the Ka’ba in Mecca, The Dome is not a Mosque but a shrine built over a sacred stone, known as the “Foundation Stone”, from which, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad had ascended to the heavens in “The Night Journey”. It is also believed to be the site on which Abraham had almost sacrificed Ishmael (not Isaac as is believed in Christianity and Judaism).
Due to its magnificent golden dome and sheer size, the Dome of the Rock can be seen from almost every vantage point in Jerusalem thus fulfilling its architectural purpose – to symbolize Islamic superiority and overshadow the Jewish and Christian monuments in the area. Originally made of gold, the dome has since been replaced with copper and aluminum and is now gold-plated. The dome is an octagon structure built according to specific and exact mathematically rhythmic proportions, e.g. the length of the outer wall is identical to the diameter of the dome and height of the dome. Colorful tiles from Turkey and Arabic inscriptions with excerpts from the Quran adorn the exterior facade of the dome giving it a distinctive greenish-blue tint.
The Golden Gate
Located on the eastern outer wall of the Old City the Golden Gate is a meaningful landmark both in Judaism and Christianity. In Hebrew the gate is named ‘Sha’ar Harachamin’ which means “the Gate of Mercy”.
In Jewish tradition, the gate holds religious importance for it is believed that when the end-of-days salvation shall come, the Messiah will come down the Mount of Olives and through the gate on his path to the Temple Mount, bringing with him. The gate is also holy in Christian tradition, for it is said that Jesus had passed through the gate on his way to Jerusalem, which is why it is named ‘The Golden Gate’.
The gate was built during in the 7th century AD, before the Ottoman Empire and the existing Old City walls. According to archeological evidence, the Golden Gate is located on the ruins of an earlier gate which served as an entrance gate to the Second Jewish Temple. The Gate was blocked-up in the 16th century by ‘Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’ and remains so today. However, the gate can still be clearly seen from the eastern view of the Old City.
Porat Yosef Yeshiva
Porat Yosef Yeshiva has been considered the most prestigious Jewish Sephardic Yeshiva since its opening in 1923. The yeshiva was founded at the behest of the great Rabbi Yosef Chaim, also known as the ‘Ben Ish Hai’ which is Hebrew for ‘son of living man’. His vision was to build a Yeshiva as close to the Western Wall as possible where students will study Talmud and Kabbalah in order to bring forth the coming of the Messiah and redemption. Many prominent Rabbis have graduated the Porat Yosef Yeshiva such as the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Aish HaTorah Yeshiva
Aish HaTorah Yeshiva literally meaning “Fire of the Torah” in Hebrew, is a Zionist-Orthodox Yeshiva in the Jewish Quarter of the Old city by the Western Wall. It was established in 1974 by the Aish HaTorah International Organization which includes 48 institutions in 21 different countries. The Yeshiva is also known for a model of the Second Temple which is found on the roof in a glass container. The model depicts the Second Temple with the tools that were used for worship such as the Menorah, Arc of the Covenant and more.
Yeshivat Hakotel is a Modern Orthodox Zionist Yeshiva which is situated across the Western Wall, giving it its name. The Yeshiva is a ‘Hesder Yeshiva’ which incorporates the mandatory Israeli military service and Jewish yeshiva studies. The Yeshiva was founded 1n 1967 and has resided in various locations in the Jewish Quarter before settling in its current permanent location. Over 3000 students study in the Yeshiva today and it is the flagship yeshiva of the Modern-Orthodox ‘Bnei Akiva’ movement.
Lutheran Church Of The Redeemer
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is one of the two protestant churches in the Old City, the second being ‘Christ Church’ located by the Jaffa gate. The beautiful church was built between 1893 and 1898 and was inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm II who entered the city mounted on a horse passing through two ceremonial arches dedicated to him by the Ottoman rule and the local Jewish Community. The church serves today as the offices of the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Provost of the German Protestant Ministries in the Holy Land.
Church of St. Alexander Nevksy
The Church is named after the Russian hero Prince Alexander Yaroslav who had thwarted a Swedish Germanic invasion of Russia during the “Battle of the Ice” war in 1242. The name Nevsky is derived from the ‘Neva River’ in Russia, the place where the battle had occurred. The Russian-Orthodox church was established towards the end of the 19th Century by the Russian Tsar Alexander III. in 1917 the church and its community joined the exiled pro-Tsar ‘White Russian Church’ who escaped Russia after the Bolshevik revolution. Archeological excavations of the site revealed an arch from Herodian times which some believe to be the arch where Jesus was tried and presented to the people by Pontius Pilate. Inside the church is a figure of Jesus on the Cross stemming from a rock carved from the Calvary/Golgotha which was purchased by the Greek Orthodox community in 1894.
Leonardo Plaza Hotel
Located at the center of Jerusalem and towering over the Jerusalem skyline, the Leonardo Plaza Hotel is one of the best viewpoints of the old and new city of Jerusalem. The Hotel stands diagonally across the Terra Sancta College on the junction of Paris Square, and right by the lively neighborhood of Rechavia.
King David Hotel
Perhaps the most famous of the Jerusalem hotels, the King David Hotel is a five star deluxe hotel and landmark in Jerusalem. The hotel was built in 1931 overlooking Mount Zion and the Old City and has since hosted many dignitaries, heads of state and influential figures from around the globe such as King Hussein of Jordon, King George the 5th, Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill and Madonna. The hotel is an inseparable part of the history of Jerusalem and was even bombed by the Jewish militant group “Irgun” in 1946 while it served as the British military headquarters during the British mandate (1920-1948).
Coptic Patriarchate Church
Adjacent to the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Coptic Patriarchate Church marks the 9th station of the Via Dolorosa, or Way of the Cross, where it is believed Jesus had collapsed for the third time on his way to the nearby Calvary. This is also the center for the Coptic Patriarchy in Israel which officially began in 1236 with the appointment of a Coptic Patriarch in Jerusalem. The Coptic Patriarchate includes only several thousand members in Israel, as opposed to over 9 million residing in Egypt.
Mosque of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab
– The mosque built in 935 AD marks the site where according to Muslim tradition the Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab had prayed after his conquest of Jerusalem. It is said that after conquering Jerusalem, the Caliph wished to pray but refused to do so on the Site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre claiming that if he would do so, in time the church would be tuned into a Mosque commemorating his victory. He had thus prayed outside the church, where the mosque stands today. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was murdered by a Persian slave while praying in 644 AD and is considered to this day the founder of the Muslim empire in the Middle-East and the liberator of Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Archeological Park
The Jerusalem Archeological Park, located just south of the Western Wall, is a large archeological excavation site and visiting center. The Archeological site spans from the Temple Mount to the Valley of Hinnom and the foot of the Mount of Olives. Over 5000 years of History can be seen here; from the ancient Bronze period and Canaanite Age which date back to the third Millennium BC, to our modern day. The park is most famous for the ample Second Temple Period artifacts and structures discovered in the area. The unveiling of ancient roads, houses and market places built by King Herod make it possible to travel back in time, with a bit of imagination, to the days of King David, Jesus and Muhammad.
The Davidson Center
The Davidson Center is a Museum located at the entrance to the Jerusalem Archeological Park by the Western Wall. This newly renovated center includes exhibitions, information archeological findings and also features a virtual reconstruction and 3D tour of the Second temple and surrounding area.
The Tower of David
This fortress has served as the headquarters of rulers of Jerusalem since its construction by King Herod to, and including, the times of Ottoman Empire rule over the Holy Land. The fortress has been converted into a captivating museum which tells the historical story of the Holy City. Models of significant structures, relics and a magnificent viewpoint of west and east Jerusalem can be seen in the Tower of David Museum, as well as modern exhibition such as the light festival and “The Night Spectacular”.
Dominus Flevit Church
Located on the Mount of Olives and shaped like a tear drop, this Franciscan church marks the site where according to tradition Jesus mourned and wept over the future destruction of Jerusalem. The Latin name of the church translates as ‘The lord Wept’ and it is one of the newest churches in Jerusalem, built in 1953. The church has a beautiful courtyard and a breathtaking view of Old City of Jerusalem.
Mistakenly named The Lions’ Gate after the two pairs of panther reliefs located on each side of the gate, this gate has many other names deriving from its history and usage. Some Christians call this gate St. Stephan’s Gate after Saint Stephen who was stoned shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus thus constituting the first martyr in Christendom. In Arabic many call the gate ‘Bab Al-Miriam’ due to its proximity to the Virgins’ Mary’s Tomb and this is a central gateway to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The panthers are symbols used by the Mamluk Sultan Al-Malik Al-Zahir Baibars who fought the Crusaders in the Holy Land in 1260. The gate was built in the 13th century but the upper part of the gate, with the Baibar panthers, was added by the Ottomans in the 16th century. According to an old legend, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent dreamt that lions came to eat him for not fortifying Jerusalem which is why he placed lions (not panthers) on the gate and designed the gate so that it would ward off invaders.
Located by the Lions Gate in the valley between the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount is the Church of Assumption, also known as Mary’s Tomb. This church is believed to be the site of the Virgin Mary’s, mother of Jesus, final resting place. The tomb commemorates Mary’s assumption and ascension to heaven. The church is embedded in the rock and is shaped as a cross in the typical Crusader style. A staircase leads down into the tomb.