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.
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 Originally made of gold, the dome has since been replaced with copper and aluminum and is now gold-plated.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 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.
Convent of Ascension
On the very top of the Mt. of Olives, stands the Russian Orthodox Convent of the Ascension. According to Christian Orthodox tradition, this is the site where Jesus had ascended to heaven after his resurrection.
The construction of the church and bell tower was completed in 1887 and replaced two Armenian churches from the Byzantine period which were built in the 5th Century AD. The convent includes the Church, the Chapel of St. John the Baptist and the remarkable bell tower. Behind the neo-Byzantine styled Church, is a rock surrounded by a blue fence which is said to mark the spot where the Virgin Mary stood as Jesus rose to Heaven. The Chapel of St. John the Baptist was built on the site where some believe the head of St. John the Baptist, decapitated by King Herod, was found in the 4th Century. A small cage inside the chapel marks the exact spot where it is said his head lay and a beautiful mosaic floor from the original chapel has been uncovered and preserved. The 64 meter high bell tower symbolizes the Ascension of Jesus and was the first Christian bell to ring in the Holy City during the Ottoman rule of the Holy Land.
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.
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.
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.