Take in the beautiful view from this storied mountain, mentioned several times in the holy scriptures of Christianity and Judaism.
Visit the picturesque Mount of Olives and you’ll find not only an iconic feature of Jerusalem’s landscape, but an important site in Jewish and Christian scripture. It is mentioned numerous times in the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, and is also considered holy by Muslims.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, the Mount of Olives is the site of the ascension of Jesus into heaven. King David is also mentioned as having travelled here, in the Books of Samuel. The Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus is said to have prayed the night before his crucifixion, is at the bottom of the mountain. As the name suggests, the hill was once covered in olive groves. Climb the mountain’s slopes today and you’ll find a more barren, though still beautiful, landscape.
The site has served as an important cemetery for Jewish people for thousands of years. Many prominent religious figures have tombs dedicated to them in the cemetery. For Christians, the most prominent is the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere at this small, lantern-lit shrine, one of Christianity’s holiest spaces.
Another famous tomb is dedicated to Absalom, one of the sons of King David according to Jewish and Christian tradition. Current scientific opinion dates Absalom’s Pillar to around the 1st century. This means it is unlikely to be the tomb of the biblical Absalom. However, it remains an important symbolic site. Visit the tomb to enjoy live music and a free cup of tea or coffee.
Hike up the hill from the cemetery to reach the Mount of Olives Observation Point. This elevated spot has beautiful views over Jerusalem’s Old City and newer quarters, and the rugged countryside beyond. Head to the Mount of Olives Information Center, at the foot of the mountain, for refreshments, flyers, books and maps of the area.
Visit the Mount of Olives for free at any time. The Information Center is open from Sunday to Thursday. Parking is very limited. To reach the site by bus, take the lines in the direction of the Western Wall, and get off at the Derech Jericho/Derech Ha’Ophel bus stop.