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Mount of Olives is the hill facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of Kidron Valley. Its name came from the olive trees that once grew on its hillside from ancient times. According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will appear here and bring the dead back to life. Therefore, the hillside became the holiest cemetery, and the hillside is covered by thousands of grave stones. Jesus had many encounters on Mount of Olives, and the area has many Churches that glorify his acts in this part of Jerusalem. There are things to do at Mount of Olives that you must do when you visit!
Things to do at Mount of Olives that you must do when you visit
The first thing to do at Mount of Olives is to visit the Garden Of Gethsemane. The Garden of Gethsemane lies at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. The name means 'oil press' and most certainly refers to the fact that this area was used to press olive oil in the time of Jesus. It is now walled, but it is still a lovely place to visit and perhaps pray. This beautiful Garden is where Jesus and the disciples came to pray. He was said to have prayed so reverently at one time that he sweat blood. He most likely entered the city on Palm Sunday, by going through this place, through the gate that has long since been walled up. This is also the location of the famous betrayal by Judas Iscariot. There is also some speculation that the Blessed Virgin Mary here. Try to find a quiet spot to contemplate this lovely spot during a busy trip to the Holy Land.
The Old Jewish Cemetery is on the western and southern slopes of the Mount of Olives. It is the oldest continually used Jewish Cemetery in the world. Jewish legend says that those buried on the Mount of Olives will be the first to be resurrected when the Messiah comes. There is a visitor's center near Absalom's Tomb that is an invaluable stop if looking for a particular tomb or grave. Visitors can enter from several different points on the paved road from the top of the Mount of Olives to the bottom of the Mount ending at the Basilica of the Agony. Traditionally, a stone is placed on the cenotaph or grave stone to denote a visit. This is a must thing to do at Mount of Olives.
The next thing to do at Mount of Olives is a tour at the Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem, which is a house of worship that is sacred to both Christians and Muslims. It is believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. In addition there is a stone located here that supposedly is an imprint of Jesus' feet. The first official house of worship was built here around 390 by Poimenia, who was a famous Roman Lady of means. The original church was leveled during a war with Persia around 613. Modestus had it restored not soon after. By 680 A.D. there are historical records that pointed to the fact the place was reported to have the footprints of Jesus. Pilgrims would even take home dust from the place as a religious relic. The building fell into ruin through the years. The east section of the wall was sealed off to form the shrine that stands to this very day. A mosque was built next to the chapel. This happened in 1620, all the property is still in Muslim hands.
How to Get Tickets?
There is no charge to do a tour at the mountain itself. Most of the Holy Sites are free for a tour although the clergy who run them would be grateful for a donation. There are donation boxes at the rear of all churches.
How To Get Around?
There is no transportation at Mount of Olives area. You need to walk to do your tour in this area.
What Should I Wear?
Wear modest clothes, cover your shoulders and knees. This is a holy place with a lot of religious sites, you are expected to be respectful and therefore dress modestly. Also, wear comfortable shoes as you will walk and hike a lot. Bring a bottle of water with you.
Best Time to Visit
Start your morning tour on the Mount of Olives at 8am. The morning hours are the best in terms of the view. Also, check your calendar for Easter, Christmas, and other Christian / Jewish big days to avoid the crowd.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, it's easy to get around and you can find everything on this website.
How To Get There?
If you're taking public transport to Mt Olives, you can get by the East Jerusalem bus company. Take the line 75 from the East Jerusalem CBS, just across the road from Damascus Gate. You can also take a taxi to go to the top of Mount of Olives, make sure your driver use the meter.