It is safe to say that pretty much every tourist who visits Jerusalem makes it to the Old City. However, not everyone fits in a visit to the nearby Mount of Olives, from where you have the best view of the Old City. Of course, the Mount of Olives is known for much more than its view, however, I’ll get to all of that in a minute. What draws many tourists to this high up hilltop location is to get a picture with Jerusalem’s famous camel sitting up top outside the Hotel of the Seven Arches in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olive’s peak.
The Mount of Olives is mentioned several times in both the Old and New Testaments and is thus a very important location to several faiths. In particular, the Jewish faith has acquired a large portion of the mountain and uses it as a (very, very, very expensive) burial ground. The religion preaches that the Messiah will come from the Golden Gate (on the side of the Old City) and thus, he will arrive facing the Mount of Olives. Thus, anyone buried there will be the first ones to greet the Messiah. As for the Christian faith, there were several important events in the life of Jesus that occurred in various locations on the Mount of Olives. For instance it is believed Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer at Pater Noster Church; that he wept over the future destruction of the city at Dominus Flevit Church; and that he was historically betrayed and arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane.
You may not know that the Mount of Olives is actually a 2 mile wide ridge. On its southern end are a grouping of approximately 80,000 Jewish tombs; although, in total, there are an estimated 150,000 tombs of various faiths planted throughout the Mount. On the northern end of the Mount is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in an area called Mount Scopus. Sitting on Hebrew University’s campus, however, you’d never know you were so close to such history. A number of famous people from history past and present are buried on the Mount of Olives. Here’s what you have to look forward to once you reach the top of the Mount (you know, it’s the “postcard” view of Jerusalem).
You can choose to take a taxi there, but from our experience, they really try to rip you off. It’s a tourist trap and there’s not much to do about it. So, try your best to negotiate a price. If you want to walk, it’s doable, but it’ll take you awhile. You’ve got to be up for the hike. Luckily, there’s a lot to see along the way. We started out just outside of Mamilla Mall, close to the Jaffa Gate.
We made our way through the Old City’s Christian Quarter markets, past the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and straight down the Via Dolorosa which actually snakes through the Arab Quarter (seen in photos below) and out to the Lion’s Gate. We found some decorations in the Arab Quarter that we think are up for the month long holiday of Ramadan (time of year when Islamic people reflect and atone, fasting for a total of 30 days).