We marveled at the views from the Mount of Olives which is famous in Christianity because of the time Jesus spent on the Mount teaching his disciples. He also came there on the night of his betrayal and supposedly ascended to heaven from the Mt. of Olives. There are beautiful olive groves around the mountain. The Mount is 2,683 feet high and overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem. We shared a cab to the Mount with an Italian couple, Monica and Luciano, who we met at breakfast at the hotel. (For other travelers headed to the Mount of Olives, the cab cost 20 shekels ($6) from the area of Herods' Gate / Damascus Gate.)
The Mount of Olives is also a holy site for Jews. The more than 150,000 tombs you see covering the mountainside are from Jews who have used this as a burial site for more than 3,000 years. Before the Wailing Wall was established, the Mount of Olives was a site where Jews would congregate to weep over the destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans.
For more information about the Mount of Olives, here's a link: http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=49&sub=4816&cat_name=Sites+-+Israel&subcat_name=Mount+of+Olives
Here is a photo I found online of a couple tombs:
|Photo by Eman, June 2005.|
The photo below shows the Dome of the Rock (the gold-domed building), one of the most holy sites for Islam. (I'll do a blog entry soon on our visit to that site.) This is also the area where the Jewish temple formerly stood before it was destroyed by the Romans.
Below is a photo our friend, Monica, took of us.
We visited several other religious sites on the Mount of Olives. The first was the Church of Pater Noster where Jesus taught his disciples in caves. Though there are no references in the Bible saying where Jesus taught the Lords Prayer, it is said that he taught about the conflict between good and evil in these caves. One religious historian said that a church was later built over a cave on the the Mount of Olives. After damage from the Persians and later the Crusaders, the ruins of a church on this site were later partially restored in the 1800's with the caves being discovered in 1910. The link to the Lords Prayer evolved over time and is now the main theme of this half-finished church.
If you'd like to read more about the Church of Pater Noster, you can click on this link:
There are beautiful ceramic plaques throughout this site with the Lord Prayer written in 62 different languages. Here are some of those plaques.
These cloisters were built in the 1800's but were moved to a different part of the site after the caves were discovered beneath them in 1910.
Here are the caves under the church where Jesus did some of his teaching.
Like with the Wailing wall, small papers with peoples' handwritten prayers are wedged into the cracks and holes in the stone in these caves.
Cameron really liked this cross carved into a ledge in the cave. He asked me to take a photo of it.
The next stop after the Church of Pater Noster was the Chapel of the Ascension. This is supposedly the site where Jesus ascended to heaven (though the Holy Sepulcher Church in Old Jerusalem also makes the same claim I think). The first church was built on this site in 390, commissioned by a Roman woman. This church was destroyed in 614 by the Persians, then rebuilt in 680. Interestingly, the building was used as a mosque for 300 years after the Crusaders fell from power in the 1100's.
The above photo is of a slab of stone that supposedly contains the right footprint of Jesus before he ascended to heaven. The left footprint was taken to a mosque during the Middle Ages.
If you'd like to read more about this Chapel, here is a link:
The last thing we saw, just by wandering by and seeing a stairway leading into the ground with a man sitting next to it like a watchman, was the Tomb of the Prophets. The man guarding it didn't speak English but offered us a candle. I've never walked in catacombs before. It felt dark, spooky and fascinating. We lit the candle and walked down one dark tunnel. It was pitch dark in the tunnel and I insisted that Cameron hold our hand so we wouldn't lose him in the catacombs. What we didn't know was that the dark tunnel was actually a loop so we couldn't have gotten lost too far, though it was kind of fun to imagine, for those few minutes in the beginning, that there was that possibility.
The catacombs have 50 tombs and they are more than 2500 years old.
Here are pictures from the catacombs, the last being a photo I took of Jeff and Cameron emerging from the darkness.
If you'd like to read more about this tomb, here's a link: