Sacred Structures along the Kidron Valley and on the Mount of Olives


There are many sacred structures along the east side of Jerusalem, some dating back to before the time of King Herod (37-4 BCE). The oldest is the Tomb of the Bene-Hezir, a priestly family, from the 2nd century BCE. It can be seen to the left in the picture above. To its right is the monolithic Tomb of Zechariah, possibly built a century or two later. It is not the actual tomb of the Biblical prophet but may be associated with the Bene-Hezir tomb. Dating from the 1st century CE, the Tomb of Absalom sits to the left of both of these structures and can be seen beneath the trees in the photo below. Absalom was the son of King David who lived a thousand years earlier.


A number of other sacred structures, these Christian in nature, sit on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. Three can be seen in the photograph below.


On the bottom left is the Church of All Nations in Gethsemane. It supposedly marks the spot where Jesus prayed before being arrested. This 20th century church stands above the remains of Byzantine and Crusader-era churches. In the center, with the golden onion domes, is the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene. It was built in the 19th century. The mid-20th century church to the extreme upper right (blue dome) is the Dominus Flevit, meaning “the Lord wept.” It commemorates the spot where Jesus wept and prayed before his arrest. The remains of an earlier Crusader church lie nearby. Directly underneath the Dominus Flevit lie ancient tombs dating from the second-temple (pre-70 CE) to Byzantine periods.

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