This is the place from which Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem during the holy week. Here he made his famous prophecy looking down at the Temple. “Mount of Olives”, rising to the East of Jerusalem, separates the Holy City from the Judean Desert which from here begins its descent to the Dead Sea. Kidron valley separates Mount of Olives from Mount Moriah, Temple Mount, and the Old City. Some of the main events in the Passion of Jesus Christ happened here: Jesus’ last prayer, Judas Iscariot’s kiss and the capture of Jesus by the priests and the Roman soldiers. From the top of this mountain Christ went to the heavens after his death and resurrection, and from the same place he is said to have come to, on the Second Advent. During history churches were erected on top of these holy places. A walk down Mount of Olives gives you a glimpse into different Christian traditions.
The complex was named in honor of Augusta Victoria
of Schleswig-Holstein, wife of German Kaiser Wilhelm II,
who visited Jerusalem in 1898. The buildings were inspired
by German fortress architecture. It contains a hospital,
a protestant church and the German Protestant Institute
of Archaeology. The church is dedicated to the event of
the Ascension of Jesus. It is south facing, and not East like
the majority of churches in the world, in order to indicate
where the actual event happened.
The decoration is unique for a protestant church because
saints and images from the old and new testaments of sacred
figures are described side by side with historical German figures.
In a regular protestant church (for example the Redeemer in
the old city) the decoration is very simple. From the bell tower you will be able to appreciate the view of
the city and Judean desert.
It is a small sacred chapel on Mt Olives, where, according
to tradition, lies the site where Jesus ascended to heaven
40 days after his resurrection. The octagon shaped Dome,
built in the center of an enclosed yard, was built over earlier
Byzantine and Crusaders period structures.
The church was built here at the end of the 4th century as
a memorial chapel, marked by Constantine’s mother, Helena.
The Byzantine design was round. Inside the structure was a
double row of columns with an open roof,
laid out in two concentric circles.
It existed until the 7th century, and was destroyed by the Persians.
It then was rebuilt, and existed until the 10th century, but destroyed again during the Arab conquest.
The site was rebuilt by the Crusaders based on the original Byzantine design.
Today the place serves as a mosque. Christians are allowed to conduct services only during Ascension Day.
The highest bell tower in the skyline of Mount of Olives belongs to this Russian Orthodox church.
According to Russian Orthodox tradition, this is the site where Jesus ascended to heaven 40
days after resurrection (Luke 24 51: “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from
them, and carried up into heaven”). Another tradition is that the head of John the Baptist,
beheaded by Herod Antipas, and was found in the 4th century in a jar hidden in the chapel adjacent
to the church. On the site of the convent were two 5th century Armenian churches.
One of these churches was named after John the Baptist.
Their mosaic floors were uncovered during the construction of the convent, and one of the mosaic floors
was embedded in the chapel behind the church. The complex was built at the end of the 19th century as
part of the Russians to expand their presence in the land and the Holy city.
The church is open for limited hours during the morning.
The site on which the church was built doesn’t have a
particular event or monument. It is dedicated to the figure
of Saint Mary Magdalen because the patron,
Alexander the 3rd the Russian Czar, decided to commemorate
here through his mother, Maria Alexandrova.
The building was designed in a Russian popular style,
with the gilded onion domes on the outside. The inside describe
scenes from the life of Mary Magdalen and also an important
Hodegetria icon, from ancient Greek-She who shows the way.
Two martyred saints, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna
of Russia and her fellow nun Varvara Yakovleva, are buried
in the church. The church has limited opening hours, only
during morning hours.
The New Testament says nothing about the death and
burial of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, but a strong Eastern
Christian tradition places her tomb in a dimly-lit church
at the foot of the Mount of Olives.
According to this the Virgin Mary died a natural death like
any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon
death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day
after her repose, at which time she was taken up, soul and body,
into heaven in anticipation of the general resurrection.
Her tomb, according to this teaching, was found empty
on the third day. The structure of this church is unique:
it combines elements from an ancient byzantine structure,
dated to the 5th century, with crusaders architecture like
the façade or the stairway that leads to the crypt.
Two small chapels hosts the tombs of the Saints Anna and Joachim the parents of Virgin Mary and
on the other side the tomb of queen Melisenda, daughter and wife of Crusader kings of Jerusalem,
who died in 1161. The space is divided between the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian denominations.