Mount of Olives - Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday Walk

Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday Sites Visited on Walk

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Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

Jerusalem from Mount of Olives Viewpoint - Israel
Jerusalem, Israel Jerusalem from Mount of Olives Viewpoint - Israel. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Tours of Jerusalem may include a walk down the Mount of Olives. This is the site of a Jewish cemetery where the faithful have been buried for centuries awaiting the Messiah's return. Christians believe the Messiah arrived in the form of Jesus. The Mount of Olives is a central place to the Holy Week traditions of Palm Sunday, the Agony in the Garden, the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, and his ascension into heaven. It also provides a stunning view of Jerusalem.

The walk is about a half mile and descends 400 feet. Those walking down the Mount of Olives should wear sturdy shoes as the path is steep and there are some areas of gravel. Dress for respect of the holy sites of many faiths. Men should wear long pants rather than shorts. Women should wear pants or skirts that are below the knee and should have a garment to put on that covers their arms to past their elbows.

From the viewpoint near the top of the Mount of Olives, the old city of Jerusalem spreads out on Temple Mount.

Tour buses will let walking tours off near the top of the Mount of Olives for the walk down the mountain. This is the only area accessible by wheelchair or the mobility impaired, as the rest of the walk has a steep descent.

Immediately below the viewpoint are Jewish cemeteries, where the faithful await resurrection and the entry into Jerusalem with the Messiah via the Golden Gate.

The golden Dome of the Rock is one of the three most holy sites of the Moslem faith. It is the site where Abraham bound his son Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice, but his hand was stayed by a messenger of God.

The first and second Jewish Temples were built and destroyed on Temple Mount near the site of the Dome of the Rock.

The walls visible today are those built by Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire in the 1500's.

The Gospels tell of Jesus prophecied of the destruction of Jerusalem from a viewpoint such as this one on the Mount of Olives. (Luke 19:41)

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View of the City of David from the Mount of Olives

City of David from Mount of Olives - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel City of David from Mount of Olives - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

From the Mount of Olives, you can see a green area, which is the Valley of Kidron -- the site where King David first established Jerusalem.

Most cities in Israel were founded around springs of water rather than defensible positions. King David established his city above the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley. This was also an area that didn't belong to any one of the 12 tribes of Israel, so it was a neutral place to locate the capital city of united Israel.

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Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives

Cemetery on the Mount of Olives - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel Cemetery on the Mount of Olives - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Over 150,00 graves of the Jewish faithful cover the slopes of the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives has been a burial site since ancient times. This cemetery is the resting place of important rabbis from the 15th to 20th centuries. They believed that when the Messiah returned, they would be closest to being resurrected so they could enter Jerusalem in triumph. The cemeteries underwent a period of vandalism during Jordanian rule in the mid-20th century. Today, pilgrims leave a stone on the graves of important rabbis.

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Descending the Mount of Olives

Descending the Mount of Olives - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel Descending the Mount of Olives - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

On Palm Sunday, Jesus descended the Mount of Olives in a triumphant procession as his followers proclaimed that he may be the Messiah.

Walking down the Mount of Olives, walkers encounter a steep descent and share the road with vehicle traffic. Handrails are available in most places to aid stability. It is best to wear sturdy hiking shoes, and perhaps use a walking stick for stability.

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White Donkey on Mount of Olives

White Burro on Mount of Olives - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel White Burro on Mount of Olives - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Prophecy said that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a white donkey (Zec 9:9). Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday.

An enterprising man poses with a white donkey such as Jesus rode on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

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Road Down Mount of Olives to Jerusalem

Road Down Mount of Olives - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel Road Down Mount of Olives - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The road from Bethany to Jerusalem passed down the Mount of Olives. Jesus descended the mountain and entered Jerusalem in triumph on Palm Sunday.

The walkers pictured are walk representatives of the IML Walking Association, touring Jerusalem after the International Gilboa Walk. A walking tour of Jerusalem calls for wearing sturdy, cushioned shoes and being prepared for steep hills, stairs, and uneven walking surfaces.

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Cave Graves on the Mount of Olives

Hillside Graves on the Mount of Olives - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel Hillside Graves on the Mount of Olives - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Ancient gravesite on the Mount of Olives show how the inhabitants buried their dead in caves and then interred their bones in sarcophagi.

This ancient cave burial site near the garden of Gethsemane shows the method of burial in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. The dead were cleaned, anointed with oil and wrapped in linen and placed in the cave grave. After the flesh had decayed, the bones were collected and placed with the bones of their other family members in stone sarcophagi.

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Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane - Agony in the Garden - Mount of Olives Jerusalem
Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel Garden of Gethsemane - Agony in the Garden - Mount of Olives Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The Bible tells of Jesus taking two disciples with him after the Last Supper to pray in the garden of Gethsemane.

The Mount of Olives was studded with olive trees in the time of Jesus. He spent much time here in his last days, preaching and teaching his disciples. At the Last Supper, he predicted that one of the disciples would betray him. Then he took Peter, John, and James to pray with him in the garden of Gethsemane. These ancient olive trees are only 500 years old, but they add a lot of atmosphere to the surroundings.

The Bible says that Jesus prayed that he not have to go through the agony he knew was before him, but he accepted the will of God that it must happen. All four gospels recount the agony in the garden. The disciples kept falling asleep during this vigil, and Jesus said, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Jesus was then betrayed by Judas, arrested and held nearby.

Today, after walking down the Mount of Olives, walkers pass alongside the garden to the Church of All Nations where the place Jesus is believed to have actually prayed is enshrined.

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Church of All Nations - Rock Where Jesus Prayed in the Garden

Church of All Nations - Rock Where Jesus Prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane - Jerusalem
Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel Church of All Nations - Rock Where Jesus Prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

A section of rock is enshrined in the Church of All Nations on the Mount of Olives. This where tradition says Jesus prayed during his agony in the garden.

The walk down the Mount of Olives passes through the garden of Gethsemane. The Bible tells of Jesus taking two disciples with him after the Last Supper and going to this garden to pray. He prayed with agony that he might be spared the torture and death he knew was before him, but that he accepted that it was the will of God for it to occur. A section of stone is enshrined in the Church of All Nations as the place where Jesus prayed. A modern cathedral is now on this site, replacing earlier churches that had been destroyed by earthquake and other disasters.

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The Golden Gate in the Walls of Jerusalem

The Golden Gate - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel The Golden Gate - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The Golden Gate is believed by some to be where Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph on Palm Sunday. Others believe he entered via the Lion's Gate.

Tradition holds that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem via the Golden Gate to resurrect the faithful and establish a new Jerusalem. When Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph on Palm Sunday, some believe he entered through the Golden Gate, others say it was the Lion's Gate which would be just to the right of this photo. The current Golden Gate is closed and sealed. A Moslem cemetery was built in front of it, which is believed will deter it being entered by the Jewish Messiah, who would not cross a cemetery.

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View of Jerusalem from Mount Olivet

View of Jerusalem from foot of Mount of Olives
Jerusalem, Israel View of Jerusalem from foot of Mount of Olives. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

A panoramic view of Jerusalem from lower on Mount Olivet.

The golden Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa mosque, graces Temple Mount, the site of the first and second Jewish Temples. The current walls were built by the Ottoman Empire in the 1500's.

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Upper Room of the Last Supper - Jerusalem

The Upper Room of the Last Supper - Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel The Upper Room of the Last Supper - Jerusalem. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

The Gospels tell of Jesus renting an upper room for Passover dinner with his disciples, his Last Supper. Tradition says that this was that room.

On Holy Thursday, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples. During the dinner, he performed the first communion ceremony with breaking the bread and telling his disciples to break bread and drink wine as his body and blood in memory of him. He also predicted that one of the disciples at the table would betray him that night. From here, he left to pray in the garden of Gethsemane, where he was then betrayed and arrested.

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