The Muslim Quarter
This viewpoint offers a superb view of the Muslim Quarter. The Muslim Quarter is one of the four quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem which also include The Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. With over 22,000 residents the Muslim Quarter constitutes the largest quarter of the four. The population is mainly Muslim and low on the socio-economic strata. With the development of the modern city of Jerusalem, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, many of the prominent and wealthy inhabitants relocated outside the Old City walls. This vacancy was filled by many Muslim families who migrated into the city walls from villages around Jerusalem and Hebron.
Augusta Victoria Hospital
Augusta Victoria Hospital is a Hospital and Church located on the Mount of Olives. Named after the wife of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who promoted the construction, the Augusta Victoria Hospital was inaugurated as a hospice and rest home in 1910.
The structure was the most modern building in Jerusalem at the time being the first in the Holy Land to have functioning electricity. It served as the center for the German Protestant Community in Palestine under the Ottoman rule and the German military headquarters during the First World War, as well as the residence of the British High Commissioner in the years 1920-1927. During the Second World War, Augusta Victoria served as a military Hospital for the British forces. After 1948 the hospital primarily aided Palestinian refugees and was run by the Red Cross until handed over to the Lutheran World Federation in 1950.
Since then the Augusta Victoria Hospital services the Palestinian Community and works in cooperation with the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNWRA. The compound includes a tall bell tower, a three story building surrounded by a beautiful garden and a Church.
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.
Mount of Olives
Named after the olive trees that once filled its slopes, The Mount of Olives has historically been the natural eastern border of Jerusalem, separating the city from the Judean Desert. Its close proximity to Jerusalem instilled the mountain with religious and mythical importance in Judaism and Christianity and as such mentioned often in the old and new testament.
Within Jewish Theology, Mt. Olives plays a central role in the messianic redemption as some believe the Messiah himself will descend from the mountain to Jerusalem. According to Christian theology, Jesus had delivered sermons on the mount and this is the location of the Ascension of Jesus to the heavens. The soft rock of the mountain combined with the belief that the end-of-days salvation shall begin on the Mount of Olives, has made the Mountain a popular burial site for many Jews such as the former Israeli Prime minister Menachem Begin. Famous Tombs and sites on the Mountain include Tomb of Zechariah, the Church of all Nations, the Church of Mary Magdalene, the Chapel of Ascension and Mary’s Tomb.
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.
Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva
Also known as Ateret Yerushalyim and led by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner this Yeshiva was established in 1983. Some 230 students, mostly in their early 20s, study sacred texts, rabbinic literature and the Talmud in the Yeshiva today. The yeshiva is located within the Muslim Quarter in the Old City which has created some tension over the years.
The Austrian Hospice
Completed in 1869 and inaugurated by the Austrian Kaiser Franz Josef, the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem was built to serve as lodging for Christian pilgrims. It also served as a hospital for some years but has again been a hostel since 1985. The beautiful building incorporates the style of a palace on Vienna‘s Ringstrasse and Middle-Eastern elements. The Austrian hospice includes a Chapel and a Viennese café serving traditional Austrian apple strudel and veil cutlets. The Hospice is also famous for its spectacular view of the Muslim Quarters’ roofs that can be seen from the hospice’s roof.
Convent of the Sisters of Zion
Located at the beginning of the path of the Via Dolorosa, the convent of the Sisters of Zion was founded in 1857 by the Father Alphonse Ratisbonne, a French Jew who converted to Catholicism and became a Jesuit priest.
This is the location of the church of ‘Ecce Homo’ and the Ecce Homo Arch. The Ecce Homo, translated as “here is the man”, is believed by some to be the site where Pontius Pilate presented Jesus to the people for judgment. The Arch continues into the convent which is situated above an ancient Roman road and water well.
Church of Our Lady of the Spasm
The Church of Our Lady of the Spasm is located near the fourth station of the Via Dolorosa where according to Christian tradition Jesus met his mother Mary as he carried the cross. The Church is located behind the wall of the 4th station and commemorates the meeting of Jesus and his mother. The Armenian Orthodox Church was built in 1881 and although small, inside a beautiful mosaic floor can be found with an outline of sandals which some believe mark the exact spot where Saint Mary stood as Jesus passed by carrying the cross.
Convent of the 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.
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.