Outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre JPG - Cropped 2

31 Holy Sites In Jerusalem Not To Miss In 2024 (With Map)

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. First inhabited in 4,500 B.C., it has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice.

In the midst of all that, Jerusalem became the location of the holiest sites of the world’s 3 major religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It’s a history lover’s dream! There are historic religious sites everywhere you look.

I have spent many years studying the history of Jerusalem and its holy sites. And I have spent a lot of time exploring this fascinating city. This post will give you insider tips on how to visit Jerusalem, as well as insights into each location’s historical and spiritual significance.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock were built on top of the holiest site in Judaism
The Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock were built on top of the holiest site in Judaism

Holy Sites In Jerusalem

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have holy sites in Jerusalem that they consider central to their faith.

The Temple Mount and Western Wall are considered the holiest sites in Judaism. Many major Christian events took place in Jerusalem, including the Last Supper, Palm Sunday, the Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. And the Dome of the Rock/Al-Aqsa Mosque are the third holiest sites in Islam.

Travel Tip: Some of the holy sites in Jerusalem have dress codes. This typically means covering your arms and legs. Even if there is no formal dress code, it is proper to dress conservatively out of reverence.

Map of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem
Map of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem

Jewish Holy Sites in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the most sacred city in Judaism.

The word Jerusalem is mentioned in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) 669 times. And the word Zion – which usually means Jerusalem – is mentioned 154 times. (In contrast, the word Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible 806 times and it is not mentioned once in the Koran).

The holiest Jewish site in the world is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. However, the site is currently run by a Muslim organization and Jews are not allowed to pray there. Read on to learn more!

The flag of Israel over the Western Wall
The flag of Israel over the Western Wall

1. Temple Mount

The Temple Mount (Har HaBayit in Hebrew) is the holiest site in Judaism. It has a long and storied history documented by both the Torah and the Bible.

In 1,000 B.C. King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Jewish kingdom. (2 Samuel 5:4-9) At the time, the Ark of the Covenant was being kept in a tent. King David wanted to build a temple for the ark. (II Samuel 7:1-2) However, God told David that he had shed too much blood. (1 Chronicles 22:8)

Then in 957 B.C. King David’s son Solomon built the First Temple on Mount Moriah. (2 Chronicles 3:1) It was bult at the exact place where Abraham was tested by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac! (Genesis 22:1-8)

In 587 B.C., the Babylonians occupied Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and sent the Jews into exile. When the Jewish exiles returned 60 years later, they constructed a modest temple. (Ezra 3:8-13) Then around 20 B.C. King Herod fully renovated and massively enlarged the Second Temple. (John 2:20)

Tragically, in response to a Jewish revolt Roman soldiers destroyed the Second Temple in A.D. 70. The only thing left standing was the Western Wall.

Replica of the Second Temple at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem
Replica of the Second Temple at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

The Temple Mount Today

Fast forward to 635 A.D. Muslim Caliph Omar – who was the second successor to the prophet Muhammad – conquered Jerusalem. Fifty years later two Muslim holy sites – the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque – were built on top of the Temple Mount,

That makes for a complex situation. The Temple Mount complex is currently under Israeli sovereignty. However, it has been administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf since Saladin regained Jerusalem in 1187. (A waqf is a charitable trust recognized by Islamic law).

Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock or the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Temple Mount is only open to non-Muslims – including Jews – for 4 hours each day, 3 hours in the morning and 1 hour after lunch. In addition, non-Muslims are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, bring prayer books, or wear religious apparel.

Therefore, Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount despite it being their holiest site. And Jewish sacred objects such as prayer books and tallit are not allowed on it. I once saw a Jewish man get taken away by security for trying to pray on the mount.

In addition, Christian prayers and religious items are also not allowed on the Temple Mount. I was asked to hide my cross necklace – which I always wear – under my shirt.

Remnant of the Temple Mount
Remnant of the Temple Mount

How to Visit Temple Mount

There are 12 gates surrounding Temple Mount. However, only Muslims are allowed to use 11 of the gates.

If a non-Muslim wants to visit Temple Mount, they have to go to the Western Wall Plaza and walk across a wooden bridge called the Mughrabi Bridge. (Picture below). It leads to the Mughrabi (Moroccan) Gate, which is the only 1 of the 12 gates surrounding the Temple Mount that non-Muslims are allowed to enter.

The Temple Mount is closed to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays. The opening hours are listed below. Entrance to the site may be closed without notice for security reasons.  Since it is only open for a few hours at a time, there are usually long lines. So get there early.

Visitors to the Temple Mount have to cover their arms and legs. If you are not covered enough, waqf workers will provide clothing to slip on over your clothes.

For example, I once went to the Temple Mount wearing shorts and I was given a turquoise full length skirt to put on over my clothes. It did not match the outfit I was wearing and my pictures looked terrible. Therefore, I highly recommend that you think about your outfit in advance.

Once you enter Temple Mount, there are a lot of things to explore. There are over 100 different structures spanning several different time periods. including prayer locations, arches, and fountains.

Foot-bridge-from-the-Western-Wall-to-the-Temple-Mount
The Mughrabi Bridge connects the Western Wall to the Temple Mount

Temple Mount

Opening Hours: Open Sunday-Thursday 7:30am-10:30am & 1:30pm-2:30pm (Summer) / 7:00am-10:30am & 12:30pm-1:30pm (Winter). Closed on Fridays, Saturdays, and Muslim/Jewish holidays.
Cost: Free
Location: Temple Mount, Old City

➡️ Explore Guided Tours For the Dome of the Rock & Temple Mount

2. The Western Wall

When the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D. the only thing they left standing was the Western Wall. (Note that Jewish people don’t like calling it the Wailing Wall).

The Roman soldiers decided not to destroy the limestone wall because it was so massive it would have been difficult to destroy. They could never have imagined the result of their action!

The wall was located near the “the Holy of Holies”, which is the most sacred part of the temple. Both the Torah and the Old Testament claim that the Lord’s presence shall never depart from that spot.

The prayer request I left at the Western Wall
The prayer request I left at the Western Wall

How to Visit the Western Wall

The Western Wall is now considered one of the holiest sites in Judaism. Jews and Christians come from all over the world to pray there. The Western Wall Plaza hosts thousands of worshippers and visitors daily.

The Western Wall is located in the southeast corner of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is in the Jewish Quarter, next to both the Christian Quarter and the Temple Mount. The closest gate is the Dung Gate. The wall can be accessed by car, bus, or foot. Bus #1, #3, and #38 have stops near the entrance.

Volunteers are on site to pass out small pieces of paper that visitors can write their prayer requests on and place in the cracks of the wall. Every year over 1 million pray requests are places in the wall’s crevices, which staff collect to make space for other visitors.

The Western Wall serves as a central venue of Jewish life and culture, hosting celebrations, memorials, and Jewish national ceremonies.

Two Orthodox Jews praying at the Western Wall
Two Orthodox Jews praying at the Western Wall

The Western Wall

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Western Wall Plaza, Old City

3. King David’s Tomb

According to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim tradition, King David’s Tomb is located on Mount Zion. It occupies the ground floor of a building that later became a Crusader church.

The upper floor of the building houses the Cenacle or Upper Room, which is the site of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples.

However, historians, archaeologists and Jewish religious authorities don’t think this is the correct location. I was so sad to learn this, because I really wanted it to be true.

According to 1 Kings 2:10, when David died he “slept with his ancestors” and was buried in the city of David.

King David’s Tomb is open from 8:00am to Sunset. It’s free and you don’t need a reservation. There are separate entrances for men and women. The main attraction is the tomb, which is located in a room covered with Jewish symbols and a draped sarcophagus.

King David's Tom
King David’s Tom

King David’s Tomb

Opening Hours: 8:00am-Sunset
Cost: Free
Location: Mount Zion

4. The Golden Gate (Jewish Tradition)

Between 1537-1542, Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent constructed walls around Jerusalem’s Old City. They contained 34 towers and 11 gates; 7 of the gates are currently open.

The Golden Gate is adjacent to the Temple Mount / Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The only gate located near the Mount of Olives, Jews consider the gate a holy place.

Ancient Jews entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate for the most direct access to the Jewish Temple. When Jews were denied access to the Temple during the Crusader period (1099-1187), they would go to the gate to pray and ask for mercy. Therefore, Jews call it the Gate of Mercy.

According to Jewish tradition, on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) a messenger was sent through the gate from the Temple to the desert with a sacrificial lamb. And more importantly, Jews believe the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate and the dead will be resurrected!

In addition, Christians and Muslims also consider the Golden Gate a holy site. Christians believe on Palm Sunday Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate riding a donkey. And he will return through the gate just like how he left. And that he And Muslims believe that on the Last Day the righteous will pass into paradise through the Golden Gate.

The Golden Gate borders the Temple Mount
The Golden Gate borders the Temple Mount

The Golden Gate

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Eastern wall of the Old City

5. Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery

The Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery is the oldest and most important Jewish cemetery in the world. Burial records date back over 3,000 years.

It is the final resting place for over 150,000 souls including many notable Jewish figures. This includes prophets, rabbis, and leaders, such as the Prophet Zachariah and several of King David’s sons. 

The cemetery is open from dawn to dusk. You will notice there are a lot of rocks on the tombs. As part of Jewish bereavement practices small stones are placed by visitors as an act of remembrance or respect for the deceased. 

Mount of Olives Cemetery
Mount of Olives Cemetery

Mount of Olives Prophecy

Both Jews and Christians believe when the Messiah comes those buried at the Mount of Olives will be resurrected first. This is stated in Zechariah 14:4 which is found in both the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh) and the Old Testament of the Bible.

Furthermore, in Acts 1:9-11 Jesus was raptured to heaven from the Mount of Olives and an angel told his followers that he would return that way.

As a result, both Jews and Christians want to be buried at the Mount of Olives Cemetery and it costs a minimum of $30,000 to be buried there! In addition, bodies are buried with their feet facing Temple Mount so they can simply rise and walk straight to the Temple. 

Jews place stones on tombs as an act of remembrance
Jews place stones on tombs as an act of remembrance

Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery

Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the most holy cities in Christianity. It has a special place in the hearts of Christians, because it is the site of numerous biblical accounts.

The word Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible 806 times – 660 times in the Old Testament and 146 times in the New Testament. And the synonym Zion is mentioned in the Old Testament 158 times and in the New Testament 7 times.

In contrast, the word Jerusalem is mentioned in the Jewish Torah 669 times and is not mentioned once in the Koran.

The Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Biblical Events that took place in Jerusalem

  • Starting at age 12, Jesus taught in the Temple
  • Jesus healed a paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda
  • On Palm Sunday Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem
  • The Last Supper took place in the Upper Room on Mount Zion
  • Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem’s Old City Walls
  • Jesus ascended into heaven on the Mount of Olives 40 days after his death
  • The Day of Pentecost took place in the Upper Room on Mount Zion
Church of Mary Magdalene is on the Mount of Olives
Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives

6. Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The holiest Christian site in the world is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

According to tradition, the church is located on the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. (The altar was built on the place where Jesus was crucified. And the dome was constructed over the place where Jesus was buried and resurrected).

Because of this, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the location of the final 5 Stations (Stops 10-14) of the Via Dolorosa, which is the route that Jesus took to his death.

However, Evangelical Christians such as myself believe that Jesus was crucified outside the city walls at the Garden Tomb.

The exterior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The exterior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Discovered by Emperor Constantine’s Mother Helena

In 326 A.D. Roman Emperor Constantine sent his mother Helena to the Holy Land to search for Christian relics.

While in Jerusalem, Helena found 3 crosses near a tomb. She thought that she had found the place where Jesus was crucified.

The site was originally a Jewish burial ground and later a Roman temple. After Helena’s discovery, Emperor Constantine built a church and rotunda on top of the temple.

The church then changed hands several times. It was burned by the Persians in 614, restored by an abbot from 616–626, destroyed by a Muslim caliph in 1009, then restored by a Byzantine emperor. In the 12th century the Crusaders rebuilt the church. The present church dates mainly from 1810.

Aerial View of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Aerial View of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Stone of Anointing

When you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the first thing you will see if you keep walking straight is the Stone of Anointing.

All 4 gospels record that Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial. And John tells us in his gospel that Nicodemus also helped prepare the body. (Matthew 27:57-60) (Mark 15:43-46) (Luke 23 :50-53) (John 19:38-42)

According to tradition, Joseph and Nicodemus prepared Jesus’ body for burial on top of the Stone of Anointing. Pilgrims to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre pray on top of the stone.

The Stone of Anointing is a stone slab
The Stone of Anointing is a stone slab

Calvary/Golgotha

As soon as you walk into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there is a staircase on your right that leads to Calvary (Golgotha). According to tradition, this is the exact location where Jesus was crucified.

There are 2 chapels with altars in this area – Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic. In the Greek Orthodox chapel (located on the left/north side), the Altar of the Crucifixion is located on top of the Rock of Calvary. This is the 12th Station of the Cross of the Via Dolorosa.

The Rock of Calvary is enclosed in glass. You can crawl underneath the altar and reach down and touch the rock.

The Roman Catholic Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross is located on the south side. It is 11th Station of the Cross) stretches to the south. In between the two chapels is an 18th century bust of Mary which is the 13th Station of the Cross.

  • The Altar of the Crucifixion was built on top of the Rock of Calvary
  • The Rock of Calvary where many believe Jesus was crucified

Jesus’ Tomb

The most important thing to see at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is Jesus’ tomb. It is located under the main rotunda in a 2-room chapel called the Aedicule.

Jesus’ tomb is formally known as the Holy Sepulchre. (A sepulchre is a tomb cut in rock where a deceased person is buried).

All 4 gospels tell us that Jesus’ tomb had a stone covering the entrance. (Matthew 27:59-60) (Mark 15:46) (Luke 24:2-3) (John 20:1) The first room of Aedicule chapel houses the Angel’s Stone, which is thought to be a fragment of the large stone that sealed Jesus’ tomb.

The second room of the Aedicule chapel houses Jesus’ tomb. You can go inside the tomb. Note! The line is usually really long.

  • Jesus' Tomb is inside a chapel called the Aedicule
  • The Chapel of Aedicule houses Jesus' Tomb

Chapel of Saint Helena

The Chapel of Saint Helena is a 12th century Armenian church located in the lower level of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was built on top of the spot where the True Cross of Jesus was found!

The chapel was constructed during the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Armenians call it the Chapel of St. Gregory the Illuminator after the saint who brought Christianity to the Armenians.

The Chapel of Saint Helena is decorated with beautiful Armenian paintings and an amazing floor mosaic.

The Chapel of Saint Helena
The Chapel of Saint Helena

How to Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. It has been the main Christian pilgrimage site since the 4th century. Non-Christians also like to visit this famous place.

As a result, the church gets so crowded you can barely move. Therefore, I recommend getting there early (it opens daily from 4:00-5:000am) or late (it closes daily between 7:00-9:00pm).

Entry is free and no ticket is required. Check the latest opening hours before you go. If you want to attend mass, here is the schedule.

I usually like to explore famous sites on my own. However, there are so many rooms and so much history inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre I recommend taking a tour.

  • Mosaic of Jesus getting taken down from the cross
  • Mosaic of Jesu being prepared for burial
  • Mosaic of Jesus getting placed in a stone tomb

The Status Quo

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not run by any one denomination. Instead, under an agreement known as the “Status Quo”, six different Christian denominations oversee the church.

The backstory is, after the Great Schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in 1054, there was infighting over the Christian holy sites in Jerusalem (and nearby Bethlehem) for several centuries.

Finally, in 1757 Ottoman Sultan Osman III issued a series of decrees regarding ownership and responsibilities of 9 holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Then the decrees of 1852 and 1853 declared that no changes could be made to the sites without consensus from all six Christian denominations. This includes something as simple as moving a ladder!

The decrees received international recognition in the 1856 Treaty of Paris. And the term Status Quo was first used in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The 9 Holy Sites that are Part of the Status Quo

Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Multiple Denominations

As part of the Status Quo, 6 Christian denominations and several secular entities oversee the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The different agreements have been in place for 160 years or more.

  • Roman Catholic
  • Greek Orthodox
  • Armenian Apostolic
  • Coptic
  • Syriac
  • Ethiopian Orthodox

Under the Status Quo the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches all have rights to Jesus’ Tombs. Each celebrates mass there daily.

Dome inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Dome inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Immovable Ladder

The Immovable Ladder is the most famous ladder in the world! Technically, it is a wood ladder located under a second floor window of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

However, it is so much more! The ladder is a symbol of the Status Quo, an agreement among different religious communities to share 9 holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem; including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

We don’t know when the ladder was placed there. The oldest known depiction of the ladder is in 1728.

The ladder is referred to as immovable due to the Status Quo decree that none of the 6 Christian denominations can move, rearrange, or alter any property without the consent of the other 5.

When my tour guide showed us the ladder he told us it cannot be moved unless all 6 denominations agree to it. I did not understand its significance at the time. So I’m glad that I took a picture of it!

  • The immovable ladder is below the upper-right window
  • The immovable Ladder

The Muslim Doorkeepers

Incredibly, for over 800 years two Muslim clans have controlled some parts of the church.

In 1192 the Muslim Sultan Saladin gave the Muslim Nuseibeh family control of the main entrance. And in 1187 he made the Muslim Joudeh Al-Goudia family custodians of the keys to the church.

Closed Door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Closed Door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Opening Hours: Summer (April-October) 5:00am-9:00pm / Winter (November-March) 4:00am-7:00pm
Days Closed: Open 365 days a year.
Cost: Free
Location:  Saint Helena St in the Christian Quarter

➡️ Explore guided tours of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre here.

7. The Garden Tomb

Evangelical Christians such as myself believe that the Garden Tomb – not the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

It is located outside the city walls of Old Jerusalem, next to the Damascus Gate in the shadow of Skull Hill.

The Garden Tomb is thought to be Jesus’ tomb because – unlike the other tombs in the area – it has two rooms.

All 4 gospels tell us that Jesus had a “rolling stone tomb” which is two-room tomb that has a stone covering the entrance. The deceased’s body is located in the inner room; the outer room is a visiting area. (Matthew 27:59-60) (Mark 15:46) (Luke 24:2-3) (John 20:1)

The Tomb where Jesus was buried! It is empty!
The Tomb where Jesus was buried! It is empty!

You can go inside the Tomb of Jesus!

VISITORS TO THE GARDEN TOMB CAN ENTER THE TOMB OF JESUS!!!! There is usually a small line. When it’s your turn, you can take a picture in front of Jesus’ tomb and then walk around inside. The open section of the tomb can fit 2-3 people.

In addition, there is a covered bleacher seating area where visitors can listen to Garden Tomb staff lecture on the biblical account of Jesus’ death. And there are secluded areas around the garden where you can pray.

When I went to the Garden Tomb with my church tour group in 2019 we sat in the bleachers and listened to the staff lecture. Then we got in line to go inside Jesus’ tomb. I was so excited I thought I was going to die. I can’t tell you how broken I felt to be there.

Then my church group sat down in a bleacher area to sing worship songs. Not me! I didn’t fly all the way to Israel to sing songs while I was that close to Jesus’ tomb. I got back in line. There were so few people I got to spend a long time inside the tomb by myself. It was glorious!

  • VISITORS TO THE GARDEN TOMB
  • GARDEN TOMB
  • Garden tomb
  • Garden tomb

How to Visit the Garden Tomb

Reservations are not required for individuals or groups of less than 10. However, the Garden Tomb staff prefer that you give them a heads up that you are coming at bookings@gardentomb.com. Private groups of 10 or more should register online.

Admission is free. You can walk, drive, or take light rail. Here are the directions.

The Garden has been closed since October 22, 2023 due to the Israel-Hamas conflict. They are asking for Donations for the staff and their families.

The Garden Tomb is right outside the Damascus Gate
The Garden Tomb is right outside the Damascus Gate

The Garden Tomb

Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 9:00am-1:00pm. Saturday 9:00am-1:00pm. Closed on Sundays
Reservations for Groups of 10+: bookings@gardentomb.com
Phone #: +972-2-539-8100
Cost: Free
Location: Conrad Schick St (near Damascus Gate)

8. The Temple

According to the Bible, Jesus spent a lot of time at the Temple in Jerusalem:

  • When Jesus was 12-years old his parents took him to Jerusalem for the Passover holiday. On the way back his parents thought he was lost. They found him 4 days later studying at the Temple. (Luke 2:41-47)
  • Jesus overturned the tables of the money lenders and those selling doves at the Temple. (Matthew 21:12-13) (Mark 11:15-17)
  • Right before his death, Jesus taught in the Temple every day. (Luke 21:37-38)
  • At the exact moment that Jesus died, the curtain of the Temple tore in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38-39)

The Temple is no longer standing. Click on these links to learn how to visit the two remnants of the temple – the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

A replica of the Second Temple at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem
A replica of the Second Temple at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

Temple Mount

Opening Hours: Open Sunday-Thursday 7:30am-10:30am & 1:30pm-2:30pm (Summer) / 7:00am-10:30am & 12:30pm-1:30pm (Winter). Closed on Fridays, Saturdays, and Muslim/Jewish holidays.
Cost: Free
Location: Temple Mount, Old City

9. Pool of Bethesda

According to John Chapter 5, Jesus healed a paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. This is known as the “Sabbath Miracle.” (John 5:1-18)

The pool – which is called Bethesda in Aramaic – consisted of 2 basins surrounded by porticos. The northern pool was used to collect fresh rainwater. And the southern pool was used for religious ablutions and for bathing sick people who were seeking healing.

The Pool of Bethesda was located near the Sheep Gate (now called the Lion Gate), which is where sheep were brought into the city to be sacrificed at the Temple.

According to John’s account, the water at the pool had healing properties. After the water was stirred, the first person to get into the pool would be healed. Therefore, the blind, lame, and paralyzed waited by the water.

This included a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Jesus touched the man and he was healed. The Jewish leaders were mad that Jesus performed the miracle on the Sabbath.

Replica of the Pool of Bethesda at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem
Replica of the Pool of Bethesda at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

How to Visit the Pool of Bethesda

The ruins of the Pool of Bethesda are located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City next to the Lions Gate and the Temple Mount.

In a surprising historical twist, they are located adjacent to the Church of Saint Anne which was built over the birthplace of Jesus’ mother Mary!

The 12 NIS entrance fee gets you into both places. No reservation is required. Travel Tip! Note that you have to walk down stairs to get to the pool ruins.

An onsite Museum will be opening in the future, so keep checking.

Saint Anne's Church and the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda
Saint Anne’s Church and the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda

Pool of Bethesda

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 8.00am-12.00pm & 2.00pm-4.00pm. Closed on Sundays
Cost (Includes Church of Saint Anne): Adults 12 NIS Students 10 NIS
Phone #: +972 (2) 628 32 85
Reservations: bethesda@ste-anne-jerusalem.org
Location: Muslim Quarter, Old City

10. Church of Saint Anne

According to tradition, the Church of Saint Anne was built on the site where Jesus’ mother Mary was born! It was built where the home of Mary’s parents Anne and Joachim was located.

The Bible does not discuss Mary’s childhood or her parent’s names. Luke 3:23-38 describes Mary’s genealogy. (Note! Luke wrote the word “Joseph”, but it is the lineage of Mary).

We learn about Anne and Joachim in the Gospel of James, which is NOT in the Bible. It covers Mary’s upbringing and marriage to Joseph, the couple’s journey to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, and more.

In addition, the Gospel of James claims that Mary was born through “immaculate conception” meaning she was miraculously conceived by God. It also claims that Mary was a virgin for her entire life, not just before Jesus’ birth.

However, the Gospel of James has not been accepted by the Christian church. It was condemned by Pope Innocent I in 405 and rejected by the Gelasian Decree around 500.

The Church of Saint Anne is the Birthplace of the Virgin Mary
The Church of Saint Anne is the Birthplace of the Virgin Mary

How to Visit the Church of Saint Anne’s

In the 12th century the Crusaders built a Romanesque Basilica over Mary’s birthplace. It is a Roman Catholic Church built in the Latin rite, meaning the worship and liturgy are in Latin.

The church is austere and simple – there are no icons or decorations inside. It is absolutely beautiful! Check out this virtual tour to see for yourself!

The Church of Saint Anne’s is famous for its amazing acoustics. My tour group sang a few songs to experience it ourselves.

In another amazing historical twist, during a renovation of the church, the ruins of the nearby Pool of Bethesda were discovered!!! According to John 5:1-18, that is where Jesus healed the paralyzed man on the Sabbath. The 12 NIS entrance fee gets you into both places. No reservation is required.

  • Church of Saint Anne
  • Church of Saint Anne
  • Church of Saint Anne
  • Church of Saint Anne

Church of Saint Anne

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:00am-12:00pm & 2:00pm-4:00pm. Closed on Sundays
Daily Liturgy (Free entry): Morning Prayer 6.30am Eucharist 6.45am
Cost (Includes Pool of Bethesda): Adults 12 NIS Students 10 NIS
Telephone: +972 (2) 628 32 85
Reservations: bethesda@ste-anne-jerusalem.org
Location: Muslim Quarter, Old City

11. Mount Zion

Mount Zion is a hill that is the highest point in Jerusalem. It is located outside the Old City walls south of the Armenian Quarter.

The word “Zion” is mentioned 152 times in the Old Testament of the Bible / Hebrew Bible. Each time it is used as a synonym for Jerusalem.

Throughout Jerusalem’s history, “Zion” has referred to 3 different locations – the City of David, the Temple Mount, and Jerusalem’s western hill.

1. Zion originally referred to Jerusalem / The City of David

Jerusalem was originally a Jebusite city called Zion. According to the Book of Samuel, King David conquered the Jebusite fortress on Mount Zion called the “stronghold of Zion”. He renamed it the “City of David” and built a palace. (2 Samuel 5:6-11)

2. Zion then referred to the Temple Mount

After the First Temple was built on top of the eastern hill the area was called Mount Zion. Which its strange because it is not located next to the current Mount Zion. When Mount Zion is mentioned in the books of Isaiah and Psalms, it was referring to the Temple Mount area.

3. Mount Zion currently refers to a hill in south Jerusalem

There are several Christian and Jewish holy sites on Mount Zion. This includes King David’s Tomb, the Upper Room of the Last Supper, and the Dormition Abbey, where the Virgin Mary fell asleep for the last time.

In addition, there are stunning view of the Old City. From the top, you can see the Dome of the Rock, the Tower of David, and the Western Wall.

View of Mount Zion from the Mount of Olives
View of Mount Zion from the Mount of Olives

Zion National Park in the U.S.

As an interesting historical sidenote, Zion National Park in Utah has a biblical connection.

Zion is a Hebrew word found in the Bible that means “a place of peace and refuge.”

When the Mormons first arrived in Utah in 1847, they thought they had found heaven on earth. They named the area Zion, which is how Zion National Park got is name.

Zion National Park Red Rocks
Zion National Park in the United States

Mount Zion

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Southwest of the Armenian District

➡️ Explore Guided Tours of the Old City (Including Mount Zion) Here

12. The Upper Room

Several major Christian events took place in the Upper Room, including the Last Supper and the Day of Pentecost.

Also known as the Cenacle, the Upper Room is located on the second floor of a building on Mount Zion. It was the original meeting place of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. According to tradition, the Upper Room was owned by the parents of Mark, the author of the gospel of Mark.

In another crazy stroke of history, King David’s Tomb is currently located on the ground floor of the same building! So both Jews and Christians consider it a holy place.

Most biblical sites have a church built on top of them and the Upper Room is no exception. First the Crusaders built a church at the Upper Room complex. When they left in 1187 the Franciscans became the custodians of the Cenacle. When the Ottomans arrived in the 16th century they converted the Upper Room into a mosque. It is now a tourist site.

The Upper Room
The Upper Room

Biblical Events in the Upper Room

The Upper Room is the site of several major biblical events. The most well known is the Last Supper. According to all 4 gospels, right before his death Jesus ate a Passover meal with his disciples. (Matthew 26:17-30) It took place in an “upper room.” (Mark 14:14-15)

After the meal, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. (John 13:4-5)

After Jesus died, the disciples gathered in fear in the Upper Room. After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared in the room twice. (John 20:19-20) It is where he showed doubting Thomas the wounds in his body. (John 20:24-29)

In addition, the Day of Pentecost took place in the Upper Room. According to the book of Acts, 50 days after Jesus’ death 120 believers were praying when tongues of fire appeared to them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages! (Acts 2:1-4) Therefore, the Upper Room is where the church of Jesus Christ was born!

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in Santa Maria delle Grazie church
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in Santa Maria delle Grazie church

The Upper Room

Opening Hours: Saturday-Thursday 8:00am-5::00pm Fridays 8:00am-1:00pm
Telephone: +972 02 671-3597
Cost: Free
Location: Just outside Zion Gate on Mount Zion

13. House of the High Priest Caiaphas / Church of Saint Peter

The night before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that Jesus told Peter he was going to deny him 3 times before the rooster crows twice. Peter responded that he would not. (Mark 14:30-31)

Then suddenly a group of men showed up to arrest Jesus. They took him to the house of the high priest Caiaphas. (John 18:15) Unlike the other Temple priests, Caiaphas lived in a wealthy section of Jerusalem’s Upper City.

Caiaphas broke Jewish customs and held a hearing to decide Jesus’s fate before sending him to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. (Matthew 26:57-66)

Jesus’ prediction about Peter denying him 3 time came to pass when Peter was standing in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house. (Luke 22:54-62) (Matthew 26:69–75) (Mark 14:66–72) (John 18:25–27)

After Peter denied Jesus he wept bitterly; which was a sign of repentance. After Jesus was resurrected and showed himself to the disciples, he restored Peter. This shows the boundless mercy of God. (John 21:1-19)

High Priest Annas, King Herod, and Hight Priest Caiaphas
High Priest Annas, King Herod, and Hight Priest Caiaphas

How to Visit the House of the High Priest Caiaphas

The House of the High Priest Caiaphas is now a Roman Catholic Church called Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu (Rooster’s crow in Latin).

As with everything in Jerusalem, the church has a storied history. First, a Byzantine church was built on the site in 457 AD.  It was later destroyed by Muslims in 1010. Then the church was rebuilt by the Crusaders in 1102 and given its present name. Fast forward to 1219 and the church was destroyed by the Ottoman Turks. A chapel was built in 1300 that was in ruins by 1320. The church that exists today was built in 1931. (And it looks like it’s here to stay!)

The Courtyard of the current church features a statue depicting Peter’s denial of Jesus. It includes Peter, the rooster that crowed, a maid, a servant, and a Roman soldier. And there is a rooster on a black cross on the church roof that symbolizes Peter’s denial of Christ before the cock crowed.

The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu is located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion, a few feet from Zion Gate. It can be accessed via Malki Tsedek Street. It is Monday-Saturday from 8:30am-5:00pm and is free.

The church rents rooms for up to 3 days. In addition, there is a gift shop and a cafeteria that sells both hot and cold beverages. Hang out and get to know other travelers! For more information, call +972 (0)2 673 17 39.

  • The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu
  • Rooster on top of the cross
  • Interior of the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu
  • Jesus on the way to Caiaphas' house after his arrest

House of the High Priest Caiaphas

Opening Hours: Open Monday-Saturday 8:30am-5:00pm. Closed on Sundays.
Phone #: +972 (0)2 673 17 39
Cost: Free
Location: A few feet from the Zion Gate via Malki Tsedek Street

14. Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa (Latin for “Sorrowful Way” or “Way of Suffering”) is the route that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. He was carrying his cross and surrounded by Roman soldiers.

It starts at Roman Governor Pontius Pilate’s Palace where Jesus was condemned to death and beaten. And it ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was crucified and buried.

The .3 mile route is marked by the 14 Stations of the Cross, each commemorating a specific event from Jesus’ last day.

You can walk the route on your own or take a tour. If you do the walk on your own, I recommend downloading the Via Dolorosa app. It gives you a self-guided tour with GPS tracking, a map, and a narrator. It costs $4.

Every Friday the Franciscans lead a procession along the Via Dolorosa. It starts at 4:00pm in the Summer and 3:00pm in the Winter. They meet at the Monastery of the Flagellation by the Lions Gate. The monks carry wood crosses. All pilgrims are invited.

Station of the cross
The 9th Station of the Cross

The 14 Stations of the Cross

  • 1. Jesus is condemned to death
  • 2. Jesus accepts the cross
  • 3. Jesus falls the first time
  • 4. Jesus meets his mother
  • 5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
  • 6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  • 7. Jesus falls the second time
  • 8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  • 9. Jesus falls the third time
  • 10. Jesus is stripped his garments
  • 11. Crucifixion: Jesus is crucified (nailed to the cross)
  • 12. Jesus dies on the cross
  • 13. Jesus’ body is removed from the cross
  • 14. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense
Sign marking the Via Dolorosa in Hebrew, Arabic, and English
Sign marking the Via Dolorosa in Hebrew, Arabic, and English

Via Dolorosa

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Multiple Locations in Old City Jerusalem

➡️ Explore Guided Walking Tours of the Via Dolorosa Here

15. The Golden Gate

The Golden Gate (also known as the Gate of Mercy) is a stone gate on the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is the only gate facing the Mount of Olives.

Christians believe when Jesus returns he will enter through the Golden Gate!!! (Ezekiel 43:1-5)

Another fascinating fact about the Golden Gate is that it has been closed for over 500 years!!! This fulfills a prophecy in both the both the Christian Bible and the Jewish Tanakh that the gate would remain shut because the Lord had entered through it. (Ezekiel 44:1-3)

The Golden Gate leads to the Temple Mount
The Golden Gate leads to the Temple Mount

Biblical Events at the Golden Gate

Two really important Christian events took place at the Golden Gate. First, on Palm Sunday Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives and triumphantly entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate.

Secondly, according to several non-biblical accounts (including the Gospel of James), Mary’s parents Anne and Joachim met at the Golden Gate after Mary had an encounter with an angel.

In what is known as the “Annunciation“, the archangel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive a son through a virgin birth and become the mother of the Son of God. As a result, the Golden Gate became a symbol of Mary’s miraculous conception. (Luke 1:26-38)

In addition, Jews and Muslims also consider the Golden Gate a holy site. Jews believe that when the Messiah comes he will enter the city through the Eastern Gate and the dead will be resurrected. And Muslims believe that on the Last Day the righteous will pass into paradise through the Golden Gate.

Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate on Palm Sunday
Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate on Palm Sunday

The Golden Gate

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Eastern wall of the Old City

16. Mount of Olives

The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge east of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. It offers a breathtaking view of the “Golden City” of Jerusalem.

There are several Christian holy sites on the Mount of Olives – the Garden of Gethsemane, Church of All Nations, Church of Mary Magdalene, Chapel of the Ascension, and the Church of the Pater Noster.

Several major biblical events took place on the Mount of Olives:

  • On Palm Sunday Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the crowds shouted “Hosanna”, which means “God save us.” (Luke 19:29-44)
  • Jesus taught his disciples The Lord’s Prayer on the Mount of Olives (Luke 11:1-4)
  • Jesus cried over Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives (Luke 19:37-41)
  • 40 days after his death, Jesus ascended into heaven from Bethany, which is located on the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50–51)
Iconic View from the Mount of Olives
Iconic View from the Mount of Olives

How to Visit the Mount of Olives

The easiest way to tour the Mount of Olives is to take a taxi to the top and then walk down. There is a paved path and a handrail. It’s downhill so it is not very strenuous. I am plus size and I was able to do it.

(Travel Tip! Rideshare in private cars is illegal in Israel. I recommend Gett, which is a rideshare service for taxis. Download the Gett app from home or in Israel)

There is not much parking at the holy sites on the Mount of Olives, so driving is not ideal. If you do have a car, you should park it at the Lions Gate parking lot and take a taxi.

If you want to take the bus, catch Bus 275 at the bus station across from Herod’s Gate on Sultan Suleiman St. There is a stop at the Church of the Ascension.

The Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives

Follow Jesus’ Footsteps down the Mount of Olives!

No matter how you get to the top, follow Jesus’ footsteps down the Mount of Olives!

For those of you who like to walk, it is 4 miles roundtrip to walk up and down the Mount of Olives starting and ending at the Lions Gate. However, you will see the same things twice.

you can walk up and then back down the Mount of Olives. It is 4 miles round trip. However, if you start and end at the Lions Gate you will see the same things twice.

There is a longer route that allows you to see more places, including Absalom’s Tomb, Zechariah’s Tomb, and the Kidron Valley. It starts at the Lions Gate and ends at the Dung Gate. Check out this amazing Mount of Olives self-guided walking tour for more info!

Mount of Olives Walking Tour Map
Mount of Olives Walking Tour Map (Photo Courtesy of Israel by Foot)

My walk down the Mount of Olives

In 2018 I went on a two-week tour of Israel with the worldwide Christian ministry that I belong to. There were 100 of us on two buses.

The day we got baptized in the Jordan River was one of the few rainy days in Israel. Unfortunately, I slipped and fell on my way to the river. I hurt my knee and sprained my ankle. I went to the emergency that night, and to a physical therapist for several months after I got back home.

There were a few people on my tour bus that had mobility issues. When we go to the Mount of Olives the tour guide called a few names – including mine – on our headphones and told us to wait in the bus. I was distraught.

A pastor’s wide who is a leader of my ministry approached me and told me that I don’t have to listen to him. What a wise woman! I have heard her preach several times at conferences, but I don’t know her personally. I am so glad she did!!! I am a fighter and did not want to miss it.

I was so afraid of getting left behind I held on to the handrail and limped down the hill as fast as I could. I was facing the wall and could not see my group. At one point I could no longer hear the tour guide on my headset, which means I was out of range. I panicked and started looking down the hill in front of me to see where my group was. I then looked up the hill and saw that I had passed my group!

Trust me when I tell you that the Mount of Olives is a must see; especially if you are a Christian believer. It’s amazing to see the places of the Bible come to life.

An elderly man walking down the Mount of Olives
An elderly man walking down the Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

➡️ Explore guided tours of the Mount of Olives Here

17. Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus spent the last week of his life in Jerusalem. During the day he taught in the Temple. At night he prayed and slept on the Mount of Olives. (Luke 21:37-38)

The night before his crucifixion Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, which is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

Jesus was in so much anguish his sweat was like drops of blood. An angel appeared and strengthened him. (Luke 22:43-44) Then a crowd armed with swords and clubs arrived and arrested him. (Mark 14:43-46)

Today visitors can pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. There are 8 ancient olive trees that were there during Jesus’ time! The garden is adjacent to the Church of All Nations. Both are free and no reservation is required.

It is so amazing to pray at the place where Jesus prayed with his disciples! While I was there I pictured Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss, and then Jesus getting arrested.

A reenactment of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane
A recreation of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

18. Church of All Nations

The Church of All Nations is a Roman Catholic Church located on the Mount of Olives adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was built over the rock where Jesus prayed in agony in the night before he was crucified.

The rock – known as the Rock of Agony – is located in front of the altar. The Bible does not say that Jesus prayed on a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane. (It does say that Jesus fell to the ground and prayed). However, it is a centuries old tradition. (Matthew 26:36)

The official name of the church is the Basilica of the Agony, to memorialize the agony that Jesus felt on his last night. According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was in so much anguish his sweat was like drops of blood. (Luke 22:44)

The current church was built in 1924 on the remains of a 4th-century basilica and a 12th century Crusader chapel. It’s called the Church of All Nations because it was funded by donations from different nations.

The Church of All Nations is surrounded by the Garden of Gethsemane. Both are free and no reservation is required.

The Church of All Nations is surrounded by the Garden of Gethsemane
The Church of All Nations has 12 small domes on its roof

Inside the Church of All Nations

The interior of the Church of All Nations is kept dark and solemn to represent Jesus’ anguish on his last night on earth.

The only natural light is filtered through violet-blue alabaster windows. The ceiling mosaics feature gold stars on a dark sky.

The roof of the Church of All Nations features 12 small domes (or cupolas) – one for each nation that donated to the church construction. Each dome has the symbol of one of the donor nation’s painted on its underside.

The walls of the church are covered with mosaics of Biblical scenes that took place in the Garden of Gethsemane – 1) The Kiss of Judas 2) Christ in Agony being Consoled by an Angel 3) The Arrest of Jesus.

I am a Bible believing Christian. When I walked into the Church of All Nations the Holy Spirit was so thick I “broke” and started crying and asking God to forgive me of my sins. I have heard of many people who had the exact same experience.

  • Stone Of Agony Jerusalem
  • Stone Of Agony Jerusalem
  • Stone Of Agony Jerusalem

The Exterior of the Church of All Nations

The Church of All Nations is easily recognized by the mosaics on its exterior.

Jesus is depicted as the mediator between God and mankind. This includes both the lowly and poor (on Jesus’ left) who have tears in their eyes. And the powerful and wise (on Jesus’ right) who realize their need for God.

Jesus loves the people so much he gives his heart to an angel on his left side.

God (at the top center) is holding a sign with the Alpha and Omega symbols. According to the Book of Revelations, Jesus is the 1) Alpha and Omega 2) First and Last 3) Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:13)

On the top of the façade are two stags on either side of a cross. The stag is a symbol for Jesus who tramples and destroys the devil. Below the mosaic are statues of the 4 Evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Church of All Nations
The facade of the Church of All Nations is very well known

Church of All Nations

Opening Hours: 8:00am-6:00pm Summer / 8:00am-5:00pm Winter
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

19. Church of Mary Magdalene

The Church of Mary Magdalene is a Russian Orthodox Church located on the Mount of Olives near the Church of All Nations.

It was built in 1886 by Russian Tsar Alexander III to honor his mother Empress Maria Alexandrovna. With tented roofs and 7 gold onion domes (popular in 16th-7th century Russia) the church looks like something out of a Russian fairytale!

Interesting historical fact! Princess Alice (the mother of Prince Phillip the deceased husband of Queen Elizabeth II) is buried in the crypt of the church.

Note! The Church of Mary Magdalene is only open to tourists on *Tuesdays* and *Thursdays* from 10:00am-12:00pm.

The Church of Mary Magdalene is so pretty!
The Church of Mary Magdalene is so pretty!

Who was Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene was a disciple of Jesus who travelled with him and supported him financially. (Luke 8:1-2)

Jesus delivered Mary from 7 demons. I always mistakenly thought that she was a former prostitute. However, there is no mention of that in the Bible. Also, some people think she was Jesus’ girlfriend. That is 100% not true.

Mary is the only person who is recorded in all 4 gospels as a witness to both Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection. And she is best known for being the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection. (Mark 16:9)

Portrait of Mary Magdalene at the Church of Mary Magdalene
Portrait of Mary Magdalene at the Church of Mary Magdalene

King Charles’ Grandmother Alice buried in the Crypt!

1) Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia

Grand Duchess Elizabeth was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the older sister of Alexandra, the last Russian Empress.

After her husband was assassinated in 1905, Elizabeth became a nun working with Moscow’s poor. However, she was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1917. In 1921 Elizabeth’s remains

2) Princess Alice of Battenberg

Princess Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. More importantly, she was the mother of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, and paternal grandmother of King Charles III!

In the 1930s Alice visited the Church of Mary Magdalene and asked to be buried near her Aunt Ella, the Grand Duchess Eizabeth. Alice died in 1969, and in 1988 her remains were transferred to a crypt beneath the church.

Interior of the Church of Mary Magdalene
Interior of the Church of Mary Magdalene

Church of Mary Magdalene

Opening Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00am-12:00pm
Phone #: +972 2-628-4371
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

20. Chapel of the Ascension

Another Christian holy site on the Mount of Olives is the Chapel of the Ascension. It is a small, modest, octagonal structure. Christians believe the chapel was built on the spot where Jesus ascended to heaven!

Christians believe that Jesus was “resurrected” (came back to life) 3 days after his death. He then appeared to his disciples several times. And on the 40th day after his death, Jesus met with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. Then he suddenly ascended to heaven right before their eyes! (Acts 1:9-12)

Luke wrote in the book of Acts that this took place on the Mount of Olives. (Acts 1:12) And he wrote in the gospel of Luke that this took place in Bethany, which is located on the Mount of Olives. (Luke 24:50–51) Of course we don’t know the exact location.

Chapel of the Ascension
Chapel of the Ascension

Jesus’ Last Footprint

The Chapel of the Ascension contains a stone slab called the Ascension Rock. Christians believe it has an imprint of Jesus’s last footprint on Earth!

The Ascension Rock has the right footprint of Jesus. The section containing Jesus’ left footprint was taken to the Al=Aqsa Mosque in the Middle Ages.

The Rock of the Ascension contains Jesus' last footprint
The Rock of the Ascension contains Jesus’ last footprint

Chapel of the Ascension

Opening Hours: 8:00am-6:00pm (Summer) / 8:00am-5:00pm (Winter)
Cost: NIS 3 (about $1 USD) 
Location: Mount of Olives

21. The Church of the Pater Noster

The Church of the Pater Noster (“Our Father” in Latin) is a Roman Catholic Church located on the Mount of Olives. It was built on the spot where Jesus taught his disciples “the Lord’s Prayer!” (Luke 11:1-4)

(Note! Jesus previously taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount when he was in Galilee Matthew 6:9-13)

The Lord’s Prayer is the most well-known prayer in Christianity. Most Christians – including myself – can recite it by heart. “Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus was praying at a “certain place” when one of his disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) Scholars think the “certain place” was a cave on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples.

Visitors to the Church of the Pater Noster can go inside the cave! It is located in an enclosed courtyard in front of the church, down a few stairs.

The Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives
The Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives

History of the Church of the Pater Noster

In 326 A.D. Roman Emperor Constantine sent his mother Helena to the Holy Land to search for Christian holy sites.

One of the places that Helena discovered was a cave on the Mount of Olives where Jesus met regularly with his followers. Constantine had a large Byzantine church built over the cave called the Church of Eleona (Greek for “Olives”). 

Sadly, when the Persians conquered Jerusalem in 614 A.D. the church was destroyed. Then in 1106 the Crusaders built a prayer chapel on the site called it Pater Noster (Latin for Our Father). It included inscriptions of the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

The present church was built in 1874 next to the ruins of Constantine’s 4th-century church. A Carmelite monastery was later built and the Carmelite Sisters serve as the church custodians.

The Lords Prayer on the walls of the Church of the Pater Noster
The Lords Prayer on the walls of the Church of the Pater Noster

Built by a French princess!

The current Church of the Pater Noster was built in 1874 by a princess!!! Aurélie de Bossi was an Italian woman who married a French prince.

She loved the loved the Lord’s Prayer and had the church and later a convent for Carmelite Sisters built at the site. During construction she lived nearby in a log cabin.

Sadly, the cave was not discovered in Aurélie’s lifetime. However, she predicted the EXACT location!!! The partly collapsed cave was discovered in 1911 at the located where Aurélie said it was.

Princess Aurélie died in 1889 and her wish came true in 1957 when she was urrently buried under the church. A life-size effigy marks the spot.

The Cave under the Church of the Pater Noster
The Cave under the Church of the Pater Noster

How to Visit the Church of the Pater Noster

The Church of the Pater Noster is located on the Mount of Olives next to the Church of the Ascension. It is open Monday-Saturday from 8:00am-12:00pm and 2:00-5:00pm. It is closed on Sundays. No reservation is required and there is no entrance fee.

The Church of the Pater Noster is a must see! It feature the Lord’s Prayer on ceramic plaques in over 140 languages!!! This includes languages you would expect – Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), Arabic, English, and Hebrew. And uncommon languages such as Lakota Sioux!

You can buy a postcard of each plaque in the onsite gift shop. On my next trip to Jerusalem I am going to buy each one!

I read somewhere that the Convent of Pater Noster website has the prayer translated in 1,440 languages and dialects. However, I was not able to find the site. If you find it please let me know!

The Lord's Prayer in Galego, Cibemba, Burmese, and Alsacien
The Lord’s Prayer in Galego, Cibemba, Burmese, and Alsacien

Church of the Pater Noster

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:00am-12:00pm & 2:00-5:00pm. Closed on Sundays.
Phone #: 972-2-6283143
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

22. Dominus Flevit Church 

Dominus Flevit Church (Latin for “the Lord wept”) is located halfway down the western slope of the Mount of Olives. It marks the place where Jesus wept over the future fate of Jerusalem! (Luke 19:37-41)

The church was built in the shape of a teardrop! I think that is so beautiful.

Dominus Flevit Church is shaped like a tear drop
Dominus Flevit Church is shpaed like a tear drop

Dominus Flevit Church 

Opening Hours:
Phone #: +972 2-626-6450
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

23. The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Although this is not a “holy site”, I am going to include this in my

  • Building where hte Dead Sea Scrolls are stored
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Israel Museum (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Opening Hours:
Cost:
Location:

24. Tomb of the Virgin Mary

The Tomb of the Virgin Mary is yet another sacred site at the foot of the Mount of Olives, just across from the Garden of Gethsemane. There’s no scriptural evidence of Mary’s burial, but tradition points to this tomb as the burial place of the mother of Jesus.

The site’s atmosphere is one of profound reverence and peace, and no matter when you come, you’ll see pilgrims and devout Christians praying here and honoring Mary’s life and legacy.

Contrary to the Holy Sepulchre, Mary’s tomb is deep underground. While descending into the dimly lit crypt, you’ll see the tomb adorned with icons and lamps.

Not every Holy Lands trip will make a stop here, but it’s very easy to reach from the Old City.

Tomb of the Virgin Mary
Tomb of the Virgin Mary

Tomb of the Virgin Mary

Opening Hours: 6:00am-12:00pm, 2:30pm-5:00pm (Monday – Saturday)
Cost: Free
Location: Mount of Olives

25. Cathedral of St. James

St. James Cathedral, nestled within the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, is more of a hidden gem than any of the Christian holy sites in Jerusalem I’ve talked about so far.

This 12th-century cathedral is dedicated to Saint James the Great, one of Jesus’ first apostles, and James the Just, the brother of Jesus and the first bishop of Jerusalem!

The architecture here is stunning, and its interior is adorned with rich decorations, intricate tile work, and hanging oil lamps, creating an ambiance of solemnity and mystery.

You might also notice that it feels slightly different from most cathedrals. That’s because it’s an Armenian Cathedral, which follows Greek Orthodox traditions rather than Catholicism.

Cathedral of St James
Cathedral of St James

Cathedral of St. James

Opening Hours: Varies
Cost: Free
Location: Armenian Quarter

26. Abbey of the Dormition

The Abbey of the Dormition, located on Mount Zion, is a magnificent Benedictine monastery that commemorates the Virgin Mary’s “dormition” or “falling asleep” before her assumption into heaven.

Many Catholics do not believe that Mary died, but that she was assumed body and soul into heaven. Still, there is a crypt that’s believed to be the resting place of Mary,

It’s also one of the newest holy sites in Jerusalem, built by German Benedictine monks in 1898.

If you are visiting Mount Zion, you should absolutely stop by and see the Abbey, along with King David’s Tomb right next door!

Abbey of the Dormition
Abbey of the Dormition

Abbey of the Dormition

Opening Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm (Opens at 12:30pm on Sundays)
Cost: Free
Location: Mount Zion

Holy Islamic Sites in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is not only a pivotal city for Christianity but also holds profound significance in Islam.

It is home to some of the most sacred Islamic sites, which hold deep spiritual importance to visitors from all over the Muslim world. Even if you don’t follow Islam, these sites are still quite impressive, and it’s worth adding a few of the locations to your bucket list of things to do in Jerusalem!

The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock

27. Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is probably the most iconic holy site in Jerusalem, with its stunning golden dome gleaming against Jerusalem’s skyline.

The architectural wonder is a symbol of faith for Muslims, believed to mark the spot from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven during the Night Journey. While primarily a Muslim site, the Dome of the Rock sits where the old Holy Jewish Temple used to be, so it’s still considered the holiest site in Jerusalem for Jewish believers.

As you can guess, this makes it a hotly disputed area.

Additionally, you can only go inside if you’re a devout Muslim coming for prayer. But for non-Muslims, it’s still fascinating to see it from the outside. A guide is also helpful here if you want to gain even more historical and cultural context.

  • Exterior of the Dome of the Rock
  • Interior of the Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

Opening Hours: 7:30am-11:00am & 1:30pm-2:30pm (Summer) / 7:00am-10:30am & 12:30-1:30pm (Winter). Closed on Friday, Saturday, and Muslim/Jewish holidays.
Cost: Free
Location: Temple Mount, Old City

➡️ Explore Guided Tours For the Dome of the Rock & Temple Mount

28. Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque, part of the noble Haram ash-Sharif complex, is the third holiest site in Islam.

This expansive mosque, with its silver dome and vast prayer hall, is a focal point for the Islamic faith in Jerusalem. Muslims believe Muhammad led prayers here before his ascension to heaven.

The mosque was built into its present form in 705 CE by Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik. Still to this day, it continues to be a coveted place of worship and destination for Muslim pilgrims seeking to connect with the Islamic tradition of faith.

Note: This area has recently been at the center of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, so take extra caution while visiting.

  • Exterior of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
  • Exterior of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
  • Exterior of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
  • Exterior of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
  • Interior of the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque

Opening Hours: Open for Muslim prayers. Restricted hours for non-Muslim visitors.
Cost: Free
Location: Temple Mount

29. Bab al-Rahma / The Golden Gate

The Bab al-Rahma (also known as the Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy) is a stone gate on the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City. It is adjacent to the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The Golden Gate has been closed for 500 years!!!

According to Islamic tradition, on the Last Day the righteous will pass into paradise through the Golden Gate.

Therefore, many Muslims want to be buried in the Bab al-Rahma Cemetery just outside the gate. The 23-acre cemetery extends from the Lions’ Gate to the end of the Al-Aqsa Mosque wall near the Umayyad palaces. It contains many graves of the Companions of the Prophet Mohammed, including Ubadah ibn al-Samit and Shadad ibn Aus

The southern opening is called Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) and the northern opening is called Bab al-Taubah (Gate of Repentance). In Arabic, the entire gate is called Bab al-Zahabi or Bab al-Dhahabi (Golden Gate) as well as Gate of Eternal life.

In addition, Jews and Christians also consider the Golden Gate a holy site. Jews believe that when the Messiah comes he will enter the city through the Eastern Gate and the dead will be resurrected. Christians believe this is the gate where Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday. And he will return through the gate just like how he left. Muslims consider Jesus a prophet and also believe this.

The Golden Gate and Bab al-Rahma Cemetery
The Golden Gate and Bab al-Rahma Cemetery

Bab al-Rahma / The Golden Gate

Opening Hours: Always Open
Cost: Free
Location: Eastern wall of the Old City

30. Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque

Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque was established by the revered Salah al-Din (Saladin) following the surrender of the Crusaders in 1221 and marked his conquest of Jerusalem. Before then, the building was the Palace of a Latin Patriarch.

Although small, this mosque is historically significant and serves as a beacon of Islamic faith and scholarship.

It’s a relatively unknown holy site in Jerusalem for Muslims, so it can be difficult to find. But if you’d like to visit, you can find it at the end of St. Francis Street near the Levantine Gallary.

Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque
Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque (Photo Courtesy of the Madain Project)

Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque

Opening Hours: Open for Muslim prayers. Non-Muslims may visit outside prayer times with permission.
Cost: Free
Location: Christina Quarter, Old City (at the end of St. Francis Street)

31. Marwan-e-masjid (Solomon’s Stables)

Marwan-e-masjid lies in the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount, built during the Herodian expansions of the Temple Mount platform in the 1st century BCE.

The alternative name – Solomons’s Stables – comes from Crusader legends, as they believed the area was used by Solomon for his horses. This was probably not the case, though, and these subterranean vaults have served various purposes over the centuries.

In the late 1990s, however, the area was converted into an Islamic prayer space known as the Marwani Prayer Hall. It spans over 4 acres and can hold up to 6000 worshippers at a time.

Al Marwani Mushalla is not typically open for public tours (only to Muslims with the purpose of prayer), but you can visit the area above Temple Mount and see the exterior.

Marwan-e-masjid
Marwan-e-masjid

Marwan-e-masjid (Solomon’s Stables)

Opening Hours: Closed to Tourists
Cost: Free
Location: Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound

Holy Sites In Jerusalem Map

Check out this map of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem!

Where To Stay In Jerusalem

If you are coming to Jerusalem with the plan to visit many of the historical holy sites in the city, then you’ll certainly want to stay somewhere near the Old City, The Mount of Olives, or Mount Zion. This gives you easy access to walk or take a short taxi to the most iconic sites for Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Here are a few of the best places to stay in Old City!

📍Best Budget Hotel: Legatia, Jerusalem

Legatia is a highly rated, affordable studio apartment right at the heart of Old City, Jerusalem. It’s also very close to the HaTkuma Gate, which is how you get to Mount Zion. The other awesome part of staying here is that you get the whole place, including a kitchenette, a private terrace, and a private bathroom!

📍Mid-Range Option: Petrakis Inn

If you’re willing to budget a bit more for a hotel in Old City Jerusalem, then Petrakis Inn is an awesome option. It’s a hotel with an ancient stone interior and a truly authentic atmosphere. It’s also right down the street from the Church of the Holy Sepulcre, which means you can get there super early before the crowds!

📍Luxury Option: Western Wall Luxury House

The Western Wall Luxury House is one of the most extravagant places to stay in the Old City. With stone walls, modern furniture, and stunning decorations, you get the entire apartment to yourself. It’s located across the street from the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

The Hanukkah Menorah at the Western Wall
The Hanukkah Menorah at the Western Wall

How To Get Around Jerusalem

Most people that I talk to visit Jerusalem on a Holy Lands Tour. These tours usually span a week and include all stops, meals, and hotels. Everything is planned for you! I’ve actually done this with my International church, but I’ve also spent time traveling in Jerusalem on my own!

In my experience, it’s fairly easy to get around. There are taxis that can take you to any of the holy sites around the city, but if you’re spending a lot of time in Old City, chances are you can walk almost everywhere.

If you want to go outside of Old City, there is also a bus system and a light rail network that connects major sites from Mt. Herzl to the bustling Mahane Yehuda Market, Mount Scopus, and more. (just remember to buy a Rav-Kev Card because they no longer issue paper tickets).

You can also book a group tour of the major holy sites in Jerusalem if you want to avoid the hassle of finding your own transportation!

St. Peter In Gallicantu on Mount Zion
St. Peter In Gallicantu on Mount Zion

FAQs

Just in case I left anything out, here are some of the most common questions I get about visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem.

What are the 3 major Holy Sites in Jerusalem?

The three major holy sites in Jerusalem are the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Dome of the Rock.

How safe is Jerusalem right now?

The overall safety of traveling to Jerusalem changes on a regular basis due to its complex political situation. Still, the city is generally safe for tourists, with security measures in place at major sites and thoroughfares. But always stay informed about current events and listen to travel advisories.

What is the Holiest City in the Bible?

Jerusalem is considered the holiest city in the Bible, central to significant biblical events for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It’s depicted as a city of great religious importance, from King David’s capital to the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Sign in the garden of the Garden Tomb
Sign in the garden of the Garden Tomb

Final Thoughts

I can tell you from experience that exploring Jerusalem genuinely feels more like walking through the pages of history than anywhere else in the world.

This city is sacred to billions of people across the world from all 3 of the major monotheistic religions, and these holy sites in Jerusalem are literally everywhere you look.

If you only have time to visit one or two of Jerusalum’s holy sites, I’d highly recommend taking a half day tour that includes Temple Mount and the Holy Sepulchre.

But my personal favorite places to see were the Jesus’ Garden Tomb, the Upper Room on Mount Zion, and the Garden of Gethsemane!

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