An early rise meant that we could arrive at Mount Zion before 9am and miss the crowds of tourists that swarm the city of Jerusalem on a daily basis.
We walked out of the city walls through Zion gate and found places of religious significance for both Judaism and Christianity.
Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion
Dormition Abbey is a German-Catholic Church built apparently on the site where Mary (Mother of Jesus) was said to have lived and laid to rest. Mary, Mother of Jesus is not actually buried here, Mary’s Tomb is at the foot of the Mount of Olives.
However, go down into the crypt to see a beautiful memorial to Mary, surrounded by stunning wall mosaics.
The Room of the Last Supper
We headed towards the site where the Last Supper was said to be held. We followed the arrows and ended up in a courtyard with the 10 commandments in stone. We looked around, a little confused. ‘Is this it?’ my friend said to me. I wasn’t so sure. ‘I’m not really getting the feeling that this is where Jesus dipped the bread into the wine!’ I replied. ‘I think we need to go up here!’
As we entered a large room with stone pillars and stained glass windows, I said ‘Now I’m feeling it!’ The Cenacle (dining room) or the Upper Room is the place where Jesus is believed to have had his last meal with his disciples before his death.
Mount Zion – St Peter Gallicantu
St Peter’s Church was built on the spot where Jesus was imprisoned. It’s a beautiful Roman Orthodox Church with a blue dome. The name ‘Gallicantu’ comes from ‘cock crows’ and, therefore St Peter’s Church represents the denial of Peter (before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times. Mark 14:30).
Don’t be put off by the blandness of the interior. The caves below the Church are fitting with the Biblical descriptions of Caiphus’ palace.
Cost: 10 NIS
Mount Zion – King David’s Tomb
Approaching King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, I went to walk out of King David’s tomb to left, rather than the right, and this almost interrupted Jews on pilgrimage who wanted to touch the Mezuzah (the small sacred container for scrolls that Jews touch when they enter a room). Be aware of this – it is a Jewish place of pilgrimage.
Mount Zion – Don’t Forget your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here:
Hotels in Jerusalem
What to pack for the Middle East
Consider packing conservative clothing and a shawl or headscarf for women if you would like to visit religious places. Some comfortable sandals work well in the Middle East as it can be hot so they will let your feet breathe. It can get extremely hot in some parts of the Middle East and so sun cream is essential.
It’s a good idea to pack conservative clothing for the Middle East. Avoid short skirts and low cut tops or spaghetti straps. Comfortable trousers and linen tops are great. Long skirts and Maxi dresses also work really well and are comfortable with the hear. Don’t forget your sunglasses, and pack your prescription sunnies if you have those!
Further Reading on Middle East Countries
If you are travelling in the Middle East, you might also like to read about….