There is so much to discover on the Mount of Olives – history, religion, ancient graves and stunning views across the Old City of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives faces the walls of the Old City across the Kidron Valley. It is named for the many olive trees which once covered the hillside.
The Mount of Olives is located across the Kidron Valley from the eastern side of Jerusalem’s Old City. The Mt. of Olives is the site of a 3,000-year-old Jewish cemetery where many prominent Jews are buried and it was the setting for many Biblical events. Today the Mount of Olives is home to beautiful churches, a Jerusalem neighborhood, Augusta Victoria Hospital, Seven Arches Hotel and the Brigham Young University.
The Mount of Olives in the Bible
The Book of Zechariah states that the “God of Israel” will stand on the Mt. of Olives. This is interpreted to mean that the Messiah will appear here on the Day of Judgment and the resurrection of the dead will begin here with those buried on the mount. In the New Testament, the Mount of Olives is noted as the place where Jesus stood as he looked out over Jerusalem and wept as he foresaw the city’s destruction.
Jesus is said to have taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer on the Mount of Olives. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and was arrested on the eve of his crucifixion. The Book of Acts tells us that Jesus ascended to heaven from the mount following his resurrection.
Christian Pilgrimage Sites on the Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives has more than six churches on its summit and slopes; some of which are positioned to mark the sites of events that took place in the Bible.
Church of all Nations (Basilica of the Agony) - Located in the Garden of Gethsemane. This church holds a part of the bedrock believed to have been where Jesus knelt to pray on the night of his arrest. The church construction was paid for by several different countries which are remembered by their coat-of-arms worked into the glass decoration of the ceiling’s small domes. The most beautiful feature of the church is its stunning mosaic on the façade pediment supported by Corinthian columns.
Pater Noster Church – This church marks the traditional spot where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. The cloister is adorned with plaques bearing the Lord’s Prayer in more than 100 languages.
Dominus Flevit Church (The Lord Wept) – This is where Jesus stood overlooking the Old City and wept as he foresaw the city’s destruction. The structure is shaped like a tear and there is a large window looking out towards the Old City so you can enjoy (almost) the same view Jesus would have seen.
Gethsemane – The well-known garden mentioned in the New Testament where Jesus came to pray on the night of the Last Supper and where he was betrayed and then arrested on the night before his crucifixion.
Church of the Holy Ascension – The Dome of the Ascension was converted into a mosque by Saladin in 1187 but it still holds a slab of stone which bears Jesus’ footprint from when he ascended to heaven.
Church of Maria Magdalene – A Russian Orthodox Church recognizable by its gold-colored onion domes. The church was built in 1888 and holds a beautiful mosaic depicting Mary Magdalene gifting an egg to Emperor Tiberius. Legend has it that the egg turned red as a symbol of Jesus’ blood when she handed it over to the Emperor.
The Mount of Olives – Where, When, How
If you want more information about the Mount of Olives take an organized tour or visit the Mount of Olives Information Center on Jericho Street near the Lion’s Gate. You can walk up to the Mount of Olives from St. Stephen’s Gate in the Old City or take a taxi to the many wonderful churches on the mount. Jerusalem public bus #75 also reaches the mount.
To explore Mount of Olives, join our Jerusalem Temple Mount & Dome of the Rock Tour.