The Mount of Olives
Location, location, location. In terms of prime Christian real estate with its noteworthy captivatingly beautiful churches, the Mount of Olives has quite a few things to offer for your Israel tour.
Churches-wise in this Holy Israel location, the Mount of Olives is home to Dominus Flevit Church, Church of Mary Magdalene, Church of All Nations, Garden of Gethsemane, and the Dome of the Ascension. The important Christian site of the city of Bethany is down the mountain approximately 1.5 miles away.
Important facts to note: the Dome of Ascension was converted into a mosque in 1187, and remains one to this day. The Dominus Flevit Church is of more modern undertaking, constructed in 1955 as a way of commemorating the Lord’s weeping over Jerusalem. In the Church of Mary Magdalene, built in 1888 by the Russian Orthodox Church to honor the czar’s mother, 28 nuns from all over the world reside in its convent today.
The Mount of Olives offers a stunning panaromic view of the ancient and modern city of Jerusalem, including the Old City, the Kidron Valley, Mount Moriah, and Mount Zion.
Why is the Mount of Olives called the Mount of Olives? As your Israel tour guide will tell you, like most things in Israeli culture, the answer is very brief and obvious; the name is courtesy to its ancient olive gardens planted there over 2,000 years ago. Israelis say it like it is. Olive trees from that time period are still there for your viewing pleasure in the Garden of Gethsemane.
As it is impossible to determine the age of olive trees, because they do not have rings, scholars approximate the age of the gardens.
To access the olive section, simply walk to the bottom of the mountainous range of the Mount of Olives, directly opposite the Temple Mount and next to the Church of all Nations.
There is a lot of history, human history, buried underground nearby and at the Mount of Olives, which is an impressive 2,900 ft high mountain, ideal for Israel vacation. Since approximately the third century BCE, it served as one of the main burial sites for Jerusalem.
The earliest burial sites known today, located at the Kidron Valley, hold the remains of Absalom (King David’s rebellious son), Zechariah( a priest from the First Temple), and many important modern Israeli figures including the father of the Modern Hebrew language, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (todah rabbah). The Mount of Olives itself hosts a large Jewish burial plot.
The Mount of Olives is an important landmark, perfect for any private HolyLand Israel group tour to visit, for its historical as well as religious opportunities.