Church of Mary Magdalene
Don't miss Jerusalem's Church of Mary Magdalene on your tour of the Holy Land. This Russian Orthodox church is dedicated to Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus, and is the burial place of two martyred saints, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia and her fellow nun Varvara Yakovleva.
The church was built in 1886 by Czar Alexander III to honor his mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna. Visitors will note that its distinctive Russian architectural design includes seven gilded onion domes. Inside the church are two ancient steps, which possibly once led to the shrine of Dominus Flevit.
Tour participants will find the Orthodox icons and beautiful wall paintings that decorate the church especially noteworthy. These were commissioned by Grand Duchess Elizabeth from famous Russian artist Sergei Ivanov and depict scenes from the life of Mary Magdalene. In one painting, Mary Magdalene is shown before the Roman Emperor Tiberius, telling him about the unjust crucifixion of Jesus. She is holding a red egg, which symbolizes resurrection and eternal life.
Visit the crypt of Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who was killed in the Russian revolution of 1917. Also buried here is Princess Alice of Greece, who harbored Jews during the Nazi occupation of Greece and was named a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum.
The Church of Mary Magdalene is located on the Mount of Olives, and from the tranquil gardens you have an excellent view of the Golden Gate and the Old City walls. It is situated near other holy Mount of Olives sites such as the Garden of Gethsemane, the Chapel of Ascension and the Church of All Nations.