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Free things to do Jerusalem

The Many Sites of Mount of Olives: What to See?

Mount of Olives is the beautiful mountain that stands to the east of the Old City of Jerusalem. Well, it’s not really a mountain. It’s more like a hill, rising to a height of around 825 meters. But when it comes to the Mount of Olives, the height doesn’t matter. It is a holy place to Christians, Jews, and Muslims and one of the top attractions in Jerusalem. Whether you’re seeking churches, spectacular views, or fascinating stories, Mount of Olives is a great place to visit.

Post was last updated on 28 June 2021.

Table of contents:

Why is Mount of Olives important?

How to get to Mount of Olives?

Important to note

What to see on Mount of Olives?

Why is Mount of Olives important?   

In the Hebrew Bible:

Jerusalem is a great place to open the Hebrew Bible and read from the holy scripture. The first reference to Mount of Olives appears when the Bible talks about King David’s flight from Absalom. In Samuel 15:30 it is said: “And David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives and wept as he went up.” Though, Mount of Olives appears mainly in context to the End of Time and the resurrection of the dead.

According to the apocalyptic prophecy of Zechariah: “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (Zechariah 14:4). This is what many people believe will happen at the End of Time. Based on this prophecy, Jews also believe that the resurrection of the dead will begin on Mount of Olives. That is why many want to be buried in Mount of Olives cemetery, with their face toward Temple Mount. Some are even willing to pay more than 20,000 USD to be buried there.

In Jewish rituals:

Mount of Olives always played an important part in Jewish rituals. At the time of the Holy Temple, the ceremony of the burning of the red cow took place on Mount of Olives. The ashes of the red cow were used to purify people from the impurity of the dead. They were allowed to enter Temple Mount only after this ceremony.

The Romans burned down the Second Temple in 70 CE. Jewish people were forbidden to enter Jerusalem and get close to Mount Moriah, on which the temple once stood. So, they used Mount of Olives as a temporary replacement because it faced the former place of the temple. They also believed that the divine presence of GOD moved from Mount Moriah to Mount of Olives. It stayed there for three and a half years. That was why it was a proper place for prayers and the seven circuits during Hoshana Rabbah.

Jesus on Mount of Olives:

Mount of Olives is mentioned many times in the New Testament. According to the Christian belief, Jesus ascended to the sky from the top of Mount of Olives. They also believe that Jesus will return to Earth from the same point.

But let’s talk about what happened before the Ascension. Jesus went across Mount of Olives many times on his way into and out of Jerusalem. He spent several days on the mountain during the last week of his life. When he arrived, his followers celebrated by lining his path and waving palm branches. Two days before the crucifixion, Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem in his Olivet Discourse on Mount of Olives. A day later, he prayed on the western slope of the mountain, traditionally in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then, he was betrayed and arrested.

“Agony in the Garden” by Andrea Mantegna

In Muslim tradition:

The Muslims also link Mount of Olives to the End of Time. According to Muslim tradition, a bridge will appear between Mount of Olives and Al-Aqsa (Temple Mount). The bridge will be extremely thin and will stand on seven arches. Only the righteous will be able to cross it safely and reach the Garden of Eden. The sinners will fall to the burning fire of hell.

Near the Mount of Olives Viewpoint is the Seven Arches Hotel, inspired by this tradition. The hotel was built in the 1960s by the Jordanian royal family when they still ruled East Jerusalem.

How to Get to Mount of Olives?

Mount of Olives lies to the east of the Old City. The Kidron Valley divides between the two. Here are several ways to get to the top of the mountain:

1 – By bus:

Take a bus to the Seven Arches Hotel, located near the viewpoint. Bus line 275 leaves from the Sultan Sulliman Terminal near Damascus Gate. Ask the driver where is the nearest station to the Seven Arches Hotel or the Chapel of the Ascension. There’s also Egged bus line 84, which leaves from the Ammunition Hill Light Rail Station. Both rides take about 15 minutes and cost about 6 shekels.

How to get from Damascus Gate to Sultan Sulliman Terminal

 2 – By taxi:

Taxis get to the top of the mountain but are very costly. It costs around 50-70 Shekels from the city center. If you take a taxi from the valley next to Mount of Olives or from Lions Gate/ Dung Gate, it should cost less than 50 Shekels. Keep in mind that taxi drivers ask for more than needed, especially if you are tourists. So, negotiate on the price before boarding the taxi.

Mount of Olives is right next to the Old City, with the Kidron Valley as a borderline between them. It’s a very steep climb from the Kidron Valley to the top of Mount of Olives. So, be prepared. The climb can take about 20 minutes.

There are two ways to climb to the top:

One way is to climb on the road. The climb begins from behind the Church of Gethsemane, where there’s a paved road turning right. Cars are driving up and down, sometimes at tremendous speed, and the road is narrow with no sidewalk, so keep watch.

If you prefer not to walk on the road, there’s also a staircase which leads to the top. Continue to the small cafe situated a bit above Gethsemane. You’ll find the staircase to its right. There are a LOT of stairs. So the climb won’t be easier, but at least you won’t have to be worried about cars. The staircase leads to the Church of Pater Noster, so to get to the viewpoint, you’ll need to turn right and walk a short while along a road.

The staircase leading to the top of Mount of Olives

Getting to the base of the mountain:

If you’re coming on foot from the Old City, here are some ways to get to the mountain:

Way #1 – Shortest Way – Walk through the Muslim Quarter in the Old City and exit from Lion’s Gate.

Way #2 – Nicest Way – Exit the Old City from Dung Gate (near the Western Wall) and walk along the road going in the direction of the Mount of Olives. There is a pleasant promenade along the road, and you can see different monuments at the foot of Mount of Olives. If you look closely, you might also notice small rectangular holes in the mountainside. Those are tomb caves from the First Temple period.

Way #3 – Longest Way – Exit from Zion Gate and walk through the parking lot to the road leading down to the Mount of Olives. After a few minutes of walking, you’ll get to the same part mentioned in Way #2. This walk can take about 20 minutes.

Important to note:

  • Some churches on Mount of Olives close during the afternoon for about two hours, usually between 12 to 2 PM. So try fitting your visit in the morning or after 2 PM. Usually, the sites are less crowded in the second half of the day. Though keep in mind that the churches close around 5-6 PM, depending on the season.
  • Mount of Olives is holy, but that doesn’t mean that thieves stay away from it. There are pickpockets on the mountain, especially near the top. So, if you’re walking in crowded areas, make sure you have your valuables in a safe place.
  • It is required to take off hats before entering the churches. Also, please keep quiet inside the churches to respect the place.

Guided tours on Mount of Olives

It’s always good to have a tour guide when traveling in Jerusalem. This way, you can ask questions and notice things you wouldn’t have noticed alone. I’ll be happy to guide you on Mount of Olives. We’ll visit the important churches, talk about the three religions, and hopefully have a great time together! Contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com or read more about my tours.

What to see on Mount of Olives?

There are many places to see on Mount of Olives. Here they are, from the bottom to the top:

At the base of the mountain:

The Church of Gethsemane:

This beautiful church lies at the base of the Mount of Olives. It is also called the Church of All Nations and the Church of Agony. In Hebrew, we call it “Gat Shemanim,” which means “olive oil press.” Here is believed to be the place where Jesus prayed before his arrest in Gethsemane.

In the courtyard, there’s a lovely olive grove with the most ancient olive trees in Israel. Many are about 900 years old. Two trees were planted by Popes.

Inside the church, there are purple alabaster windows. Purple is a color of grief in Christianity, and this is what Jesus felt when he prayed here. If you look at the ceiling, you’ll see the inside of 12 domes, each with a different flag. Those represent the 12 Catholic communities that donated to the establishment of this church.

There’s free entry.

Opening hours: Every day from 8 AM to 5 PM. In summer, it’s open till 6 PM. There is no afternoon break.

The Church of All Nations

Tomb of Mary:

This church also lies in the valley, near the Church of Gethsemane. Just cross the road, go down some stairs, and you’ll reach it.

The Tomb of Mary is the property of two Christian communities: the Armenian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. When you enter, you need to go down a long flight of stairs until you reach the empty tomb of Saint Mary. According to Catholic tradition, Saint Mary’s body was buried here and after three days, taken up to the sky by Jesus as part of the Assumption of Virgin Mary.

The church is quite dark. When you go down the stairs, it’s worth stopping halfway to appreciate the tombs of important Crusader Queens of Jerusalem.

There’s free entry.

Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays from 6 AM to 12 and from 2:30 PM to 5 PM.

Gethsemane Grotto:

This small cave lies right next to the Tomb of Mary, to the right of the church. It is believed to be the place where Judas betrayed Jesus and helped arrest him.

There’s free entry.

Opening hours: Every day from 8 AM to 12 and from 2:30 PM to 5 PM. In summer, it’s open till 6 PM.

Tomb of Mary from above

On the western slope:

There are several sites on the western slope of Mount of Olives, along the road that leads to the top. So, if you want to visit them, you will need to go on the road and not use the stairs. Here they are from bottom to top:

Judas Column:

Start walking up the road, and you’ll soon see a green door to your left. Usually, it’s closed. Opposite the door, there’s an old column known as Judas Column. According to tradition, this column was present at the time of Jesus’ arrest. In the past, it stood next to the Gethsemane Grotto but was moved here.

 

Church of St. Mary Magdalene:

When looking at Mount of Olives from afar, you will probably notice a church with golden onion-shaped domes. That’s the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, owned by the Russian Orthodox church. This magnificent church lies beyond the green door, opposite Judas Column. To reach it, you need to pass through a beautiful garden. It is open only two hours a day, three days a week, so you need luck and planning to see it.

The church was built in 1888 by Tsar Alexander III in honor of his mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Inside the church are displayed the relics of two martyred saints, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia and Varvara Yakovieva.

It is dedicated to Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ greatest followers. According to the Gospel of Mark, she was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection.

There’s free entry.

Opening hours: Tuesdays to Thursdays from 10 AM to 12. If you are Orthodox Christians, you can try coordinating a visit outside these hours by calling (+972) 02 628 4371.

 

Mount of Olives Cemetery:

Keep on climbing on the road, and you’ll see to your right the vast cemetery of Mount of Olives. It is the largest and holiest Jewish cemetery in the world, containing about 70,000 graves. Burial on Mount of Olives began already in the First Temple period. The most ancient burial caves are near the Arab village of Silwan, at the foothills of the mountain. The cemetery is also the final resting place of famous figures, including Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who revived the Hebrew language, and Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister.

You might notice that there are no flowers on the gravestones, only stones. It is due to an ancient Jewish tradition. If you leave a stone, it will remain there for a long time until someone moves it. This way, people know that someone visited and honored the buried there. Flowers, on the other hand, wither and die.

There is an option to search for a specific grave on the Mount of Olives website. Unfortunately, the search works well only in Hebrew.

There are several entrances to the cemetery and it’s free of charge.

 

Dominus Flevit Church:

Climb a bit further up the road, and you’ll see the Dominus Flevit Church to your left. The church was designed by Antonio Barluzzi,  the “Architect of the Holy Land.”  He also designed the Church of All Nations. He designed Dominus Flevit Church to resemble a teardrop. According to tradition, it was here that Jesus stopped on his way to Jerusalem during the Holy Week, looked over the city, and mourned over it, as he foresaw its destruction. It was destroyed by the Romans a while later,  in 70 CE.

You might notice that the church is not directed to the east as most churches but rather towards the Old City, to the west. It is because Jesus turned towards the Old City when he wept and mourned here. Outside the church is a breathtaking view of Jerusalem and mainly of Temple Mount. Peer inside the church, and you’ll see that the cross stands directly opposite of the Dome of the Rock, where the temple stood.

Near the entrance to the property is an exhibition of ancient ossuaries dating from the Second Temple period. The Franciscans found them while building the church. They believe these ossuaries were part of a cemetery of Jewish-Christians, the first of Christ’s followers.

There’s free entry.

Opening hours: Every day from 8 AM to 11:45 AM and from 2:30 PM to 5 PM. In summer, it is open from 8 AM to 12 and from 2:30 PM to 6 PM.

There are toilets on the property.

 

Dominus Flevit Church

Tomb of the Prophets:

After some more minutes of climbing, you’ll see a tall staircase ahead. Just before it, to your right, you’ll see an entrance to the Tomb of the Prophets. This site is important to both Jewish and Christians. According to tradition, this is the burial site of the three last Biblical prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Inside you’ll be given a candle to light your way through the impressive catacombs, containing about 35 burial niches.

The prophets were people chosen to deliver GOD’s messages to the people. They were also able to predict the future.

There’s free entry.

Opening hours: Mondays to Thursdays from 9 AM to 3 PM. Closed on Sundays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

 

At the top:

The Chapel of the Ascension:

When you finish the climb, you need to turn left and then left again to Rub’a el-Adawiya Street. Then, you’ll find the Chapel of Ascension to your right. Christians believe that Jesus ascended to heaven from this very point, the highest point of the mountain. The exact location isn’t mentioned in the New Testament, but it seems like the right place. They say that he will also return to this point.

You can enter through the gateway into a large circular courtyard, encircling a small chapel. Inside the chapel is a rock, on which you can see a footprint believed to have belonged to Jesus. The chapel was built during the Byzantine period. Later, the chapel was destroyed by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in 1009 and rebuilt by the Crusaders in the 12th century. When Saladin arrived in 1189, the chapel was handed over to the Muslims. Today, it is the property of the Muslim Waqf, who also see Jesus as a holy figure because they believe he was one of the last prophets before Muhammed. It is also known as the Ascension Mosque.

To enter the chapel itself, you will need to pay a small fee of money to the Muslims in charge of the place (cash only).

Opening hours: Every day from 8 AM to 5 PM.

The Chapel of the Ascension

Augusta Victoria Church:

About 1 km south of the Chapel of Ascension, you’ll find the Augusta Victoria Church, officially called the Ascension Church. It’s located inside the complex of Augusta Victoria Hospital. Augusta Victoria was married to the German emperor Wilhelm II and was the last German empress and queen of Prussia. She visited the Holy Land with her husband in 1898. When Wilhelm II built this complex in the early 20th century, he named it after his wife.

The church is outstanding, with a great number of mosaics, ceiling paintings, and stained glassworks. They all depict scenes from the New Testament, some of which occurred on Mount of Olives. There are also figures from the Hebrew Bible, including King David and Isaiah.

If you have energy, you can also climb up to the top of the bell tower, rising to a height of 60 meters. From the top, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the surroundings.

There is a small entry fee in cash.

Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays from 8 AM to 1 PM. The church is closed on Sundays.

Augusta Victoria Church

 

Pater Noster Church:

This church, also known as Eleona Church, is the property of the Carmelites and commemorates the place where Jesus taught his students the Pater Noster prayer. All around the courtyard are porcelain tablets, on which the prayer is written in many different languages, including Hebrew. The original church was one of the four first churches to be built by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great.

There is a small entry fee to the church.

Opening Hours: Mondays to Saturdays from 8 AM to 12 and from 2 PM to 5 PM. The church is closed on Sundays.

Pater Noster Church

Mount of Olives Viewpoint:

The grand finale of the tour on Mount of Olives is the viewpoint. It is one of the most breathtaking view platforms in Jerusalem and named after Rehavam Ze’evi, a former Minister of Tourism who was assassinated in 2001. The viewpoint is located south of the road leading up to the top of the mountain.

From this point, you can enjoy the view of the Old City, Temple Mount, and the New City. It’s a magical sight during the day as well as during the night. And the magical sounds of the city around you add to the uplifting experience. Sometimes I get up there and hear the Mu’adhin calling for one of the Muslim prayers and the bells of the churches ringing. There is truly no place like this. Right beside it is the Seven Arches Hotel.

 

I wish you a great day on Mount of Olives!

Get more ideas for things to do in Jerusalem by reading my guide to Jerusalem.

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Lior

Categories
Jerusalem

Ein Karem – Following John the Baptist

Hundreds of years ago, something outstanding happened. According to Christian belief, a child was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in a quiet town “in the hill country of Judea”. This child was John the Baptist, who will later become one of the greatest prophets and the forerunner of Jesus. Tradition says that this quiet town was Ein Karem, today a charming neighborhood in Jerusalem. So, if you visit Jerusalem, you can make your way to this beautiful spot, and follow the story of John the Baptist in Ein Karem.

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

How to get to Ein Karem?

Ein Karem is located in southwest Jerusalem, about 4 kilometers from Mount Herzl (in Hebrew: הר הרצל). To reach Ein Karem, take the light-rail train to “Mount Herzl” station. Then, cross to the westernmost road and catch Egged bus #28 to the center of Ein Karem. Get off at “Ein Karem/ HaMa’ayan” station (in Hebrew: עין כרם/ המעיין).

Here’s a map that shows where the bus station is (where the green line starts):

How to reach the bus station to Ein Karem

Alternatively, you can walk from Mount Herzl station down to Ein Karem through the restored terraces. Walk a bit on the road that leads to Yad Vashem. You’ll see a staircase on the left side of the road, descending into the wadi. Continue west in the wadi for about 1.3 km and then turn left on a blue-marked trail into the neighborhood. You’ll soon reach a road, that will lead you down to the center of the neighborhood. It’s a pleasant walk, that takes about 20 minutes.

The story of John the Baptist in Ein Karem:

Before his birth:

Let’s talk about John the Baptist. According to the Gospel of Luke, his father, Zechariah, was a Jewish priest who served in the Second Temple. His mother was Elizabeth. They were both elderly and childless. One day, while Zechariah was performing his duties at the temple, angel Gabriel appeared to him. The angel announced that Zechariah and Elizabeth would soon bear a son, whom they were to name John. This son, he said, would be the forerunner of the Lord. Zechariah was skeptical about it, because, well, they were too old to have a child. So he asked Gabriel for a sign to know that the prophecy is really true. Gabriel, in return, sentenced Zechariah to silence. “You will not be able to speak,” he told him, “until the day that these things shall be performed.”

Miraculously, Elizabeth got pregnant. Eight days after the baby was born, they held him a brit milah, as accustomed in Jewish tradition. The people at the circumcision ceremony wanted to name the boy after his father, Zechariah. But Elizabeth told them that they must call him John. Zechariah still could not speak at that moment due to Gabriel’s punishment. But, he asked for a writing pad and approved what his wife had already said: “His name is John.” Then, he was able to speak at last and burst into song, which is known as the Benedictus Prayer.

As a baptizer:

John grew up to become a baptist. At his time, Jews were baptized to cleanse the body from “tumah” (impurity). When they were impure, they couldn’t perform holy activities, such as making a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple. John the Baptist decided to do something innovative. He called people to baptize to cleanse the soul from sins and to seek forgiveness. This is, by the way, what distinguishes between Jewish baptism and Christian baptism to this very day. Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, and that’s how most of us know John.

So what to see in Ein Karem?

There are many sites to see in Ein Karem. You can wander around the beautiful streets or walk into some of the art galleries. There are also some beautiful hikes in the area. But right now, I’m focusing on the sites connected to John the Baptist. So what to see in Ein Karem? Here are three main sites:

St. John Baharim Church:

In the courtyard:

Let’s start with the name. “Baharim” is a Hebrew word meaning “in the mountains.” This is because we are in the mountains, of course. When you’ll look around Ein Karem, you’ll see the Jerusalem Mountains all around you. The visit to this church starts in the courtyard. Look at the walls of the courtyard and you’ll see beautiful porcelain tablets. On each tablet, there’s the Benedictus Prayer written in different languages. This is the song that Zechariah sang when he could speak again after he named his son John.

There are also things hidden from the eye. Believe me or not but underneath the courtyard is an ancient mikveh. A mikveh is a ritual bath, in which Jewish people could purify before performing a religious ritual. As I’ve already mentioned, Zechariah was a Jewish priest and as such, he most likely had a mikveh at home. That’s because he had to purify before entering the Holy Temple, his workplace. This strengthens the hypothesis that this place was Zecharia and Elizabeth’s home, where they also held the brit milah.

To the right of the main staircase leading to the church, there are a couple of barred windows. Peek into the windows and you might be able to figure out some archeological finds in the darkness. At the leftmost side of the dark space, there’s a small, broken statue of the pagan goddess, Venus. This made archeologists think that the church might have been built atop a small pagan place of worship.

In the church:

Go up the stairs and peer down the circular hole just before the entrance to the church. You’ll see there a mosaic, which has a Greek inscription on it, saying: “Hail! Martyrs of God.” It is unknown who are those martyrs, but some believe that the inscription refers to the children killed by Herods in Bethlehem and its surroundings. They aren’t really martyrs by definition, but it’s an option. The mosaic is part of two chapels, built here in the Byzantine era.

When you’ll enter the church, you’ll see its magnificent walls, covered with outstanding blue-white tiles. These tiles were donated to the church by the Nobles of Spain. The crypt is located at the back left end of the church. It is believed that John the Baptist was born in this crypt, which was once his parent’s home. Just before you go down to the crypt, look left and you’ll see a blocked ancient passageway in the wall. This leads to Byzantine tombs. No one knows who exactly is buried there. In the crypt itself, you can see a painting of Zecharia, writing his son’s name on a writing pad.

Practical notes:

Opening hours: April to September from 8 AM to 12 PM and from 2:30 PM to 5:45 PM. October to March from 8 AM to 12 PM and from 2:30 PM to 4:45 PM.

Entrance is free of charge.

How to get there? From the main street of Ein Karem, turn right onto HaSha’ar Alley. This alley leads to the church.

The entrance to St. John Baharim

Mary’s Spring:

After visiting St. John Baharim Church, I often make my way down the road to a peaceful spot in Ein Karem, Mary’s Spring. The village of Ein Karem started around this spring. It started out as a Jewish village during the time of the Second Temple but later turned to an Arab village. That’s why the mosque is here. The residents used the spring for centuries until its water mixed with the sewer system of the houses. Now, if you want to stay healthy, you cannot drink the spring’s water. But, you can still sit next to the spring and enjoy it for afar.

It’s called “Mary’s Spring” because according to tradition, Virgin Mary stopped at this spring on her way to visit Elizabeth. According to the Gospel of Luke, angel Gabriel revealed himself to Mary in Nazareth. There, he told her that she would bear the Son of God. Also, he told her that her relative, Elizabeth, was starting her sixth month of pregnancy. She was probably very surprised by this information because she gathered her belongings and set off on a donkey to Elizabeth’s hometown.

Elizabeth’s home was probably where John Baharim Church stands today. But Elizabeth wasn’t there. She was staying in her summer house, which is traditionally located on the other side of Ein Karem, where the Visitation Church stands today.

Practical notes:

How to get there? From John Baharim Church, exit through the main gate, walk down the alley, cross the road and walk a bit further. You’ll soon see the spring to your left, located under a tower of a mosque.

The Mosque Tower Above Mary’s Spring
Mary’s Spring

Visitation Church:

Next up is the Visitation Church. To reach it, you’ll need to climb up quite a lot of stairs. Virgin Mary must have been in great shape if she climbed this. Just before the church’s gate, there’s a beautiful view of Ein Karem and the ancient terraces below. Look a bit to the right and you’ll see the prominent building of St. John Baharim Church.

When you enter the courtyard, you’ll see a beautiful statue of Elizabeth and Mary, greeting each other. You’ll also notice a lot of porcelain tablets on the walls, bearing a prayer. This time, the prayer is the Magnificat, which was traditionally said by Virgin Mary when she found out that she was bearing the redeemer. Another prayer that was said here for the first time is Ave Maria. Elizabeth sung it.

Inside the lower floor of the church:

After reading the prayer, you can enter the lower floor of the church. Antonio Barluzzi, an Italian architect, designed this church so that it will fit the Christian story. He wanted you to feel as if you’re entering the summer house of Zechariah and Elizabeth. The modern floor mosaic resembles a mat and the ceiling mosaic resembles a pergola of vines. Deeper inside, you’ll find a well, that might be from the time of the Second Temple. There was a little water spring here, which might have been used by the dwellers of the summer house.

On the right wall, there’s a sacred rock. According to tradition, Elizabeth and John were fleeing from Herod’s guards during the Massacre of the Innocents. Then, this specific rock miraculously opened. John hid inside and was saved from the guards. Above the rock, there’s a painting of the event.  

Inside the upper floor of the church:

There’s also an upper floor, which is very different from the lower one. This floor is completely dedicated to the Madonna of the Magnificat, that is, Virgin Mary. You can see beautiful paintings on the walls, which show different aspects of Mary. For example, the mosaic floor is covered with objects and figures connected to the sea. That’s because Virgin Mary is also known as “The Star of the Sea.” Also, take a look at the windows of the upper floor from the outside. You’ll see that they are designed as palm trees. Another name for Virgin Mary is Palma Mystica. So you can see, everything is connected to Mary.

Practical notes:

Opening hours: April to September from 8 AM to 11:45 AM and from 2:30 PM to 6:00 PM. October to March from 8 AM to 11:45 AM and from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM.

Entrance is free of charge.

How to get there? From Mary’s Spring, turn to the street that goes to the west, to the left of the lookout porch. After a while, you’ll see wide stairs going up.

The Church of Visitation

As I said, there is a lot more to see in Ein Karem, but I have to stop here. Feel free to keep on wandering around, and exploring Ein Karem.

More things you might need:

Accommodation in Jerusalem: If you’re looking for places to stay in Jerusalem, you can try to compare prices and find the best option for you through Hotels Combined.
Guided tour in Ein Karem: If you want to know more about this amazing neighborhood, contact me for a private guided tour. I’m a licensed tour guide.

More things to read:

Top Free Things to do in Jerusalem Old City

Top Free Things to do in Jerusalem

Sataf: Beautiful Hiking Trails Just Outisde Jerusalem

The History of Jeiwsh and Muslim Jerusalem


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Have a great day!

Yours,

Lior (: