Mount of Olives & Gethsemane

The Mount of Olives features heavily in the New Testament of the Bible as the place where Jesus would gather with his disciples to pray. Despite its name, the Mount of Olives is more of a hill across the valley from the Old City. The mount lies east of the Old City of Jerusalem and is also a great vantage point to see over the city.

Today, the hillside is covered in hundreds of Jewish graves, dating back hundreds of years and includes some well-known people. In Jewish teaching it’s desirable to be as close as possible to the glory of God (which resides under the Temple Mount) after death, to be among the first raised from the dead to see the Messiah on his return.

Mount of Olives & Gethsemane
Looking east from the Old City up to the Mount of Olives
Lookout from Mount of Olives
The Lookout from the Mount of Olives over Jerusalem
Eastern Gate
The Eastern Gate which is sealed shut

Partway down the hill towards the Old City lies the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed with his disciples right before he was handed over to the guards for his crucifixion. You can visit this small garden of olive trees today, where at least one of the trees here dates back two thousand years to the time of Jesus. There is also a memorial church next to the garden.


Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane
Olive Trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

Gethsemane sign

Gethsemane church art

The sign at the entrance to the Garden of Gethsemane and artwork in the church

The Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane is a fairly easy uphill walk from the Old City, or there are taxis who can take you to the lookout if you do not want to walk uphill. The closest gate from the Old City is the Lions Gate on the east side, or there is a path running from the southern side of the city that will take you down through the valley and across to the Mount of Olives.

If you have some time in Jerusalem, I’d definitely recommend fitting in a tour to help appreciate some of the sights and history! We did a walking tour while we were there and it was so enjoyable (and I’m not normally one for guides or overloads of information).

Bein Harim Tours will take you from the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane and through the city on their Jerusalem Old & New Tour for a great overview of both historic and modern day Jerusalem.


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