This important location can be easily spotted as you approach the walls of the Old City from the west or the south. The building with a round, squat tower is the Dormition Abbey, and near this site is King David’s Tomb, with the Room of the Last Supper (Coenaculum) above it. To reach King David’s Tomb from inside the Old City, walk out Zion Gate, proceed down a narrow alley bounded by high stone walls, and turn left. Although this place has been venerated as the site of David’s burial, the tradition can only be traced back to early medieval times; many believe the tomb would have been located in the ancient City of David, south of the present Old City. The building is open daily, including the Sabbath, from 8am to 5pm and until 2pm on Friday. Men should cover their heads; modest dress and headscarves are advisable for women.
Near King David’s Tomb (in fact, in the same building) are a doorway and flight of stairs leading to the Coenaculum (Upper Room), where Jesus sat with his disciples to celebrate the Passover Seder, the Last Supper. Again, the room’s authenticity is based on many centuries of veneration; however, some question this tradition. It is open daily from 8:30am to 4pm.
In the cellar of a building near King David’s Tomb is a sign indicating the entrance to the Chamber of the Holocaust, an eerie room lit by candles and dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews slain by the Nazis. The chamber, a private memorial and museum, is filled with artifacts from the Holocaust. It’s open Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 4pm and on Friday until 1pm. There is no admission fee.
Close by is the graceful Dormition Abbey (tel. 02/671-9927), completed in 1910 by the German Benedictine Order on the spot where, according to tradition, Mary fell asleep before her burial and assumption into heaven. Inside the church, you’ll find an elaborate golden mosaic, a crypt containing interesting religious artwork, and a statue of Mary surrounded by chapels donated by various countries. From the tower of the church, there’s a fabulous panoramic view. It’s open daily from 8am to noon and 2 to 6pm. Admission is free. Check at this link for a schedule of service. The Dormition Abbey at times is a dramatic venue for public concerts.
Schindler’s Grave on Mt. Zion
Thanks to the making of the film “Schindler’s List,” the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who fervently worked to save the lives of Jewish slave laborers during the Holocaust, has become world famous. His final resting place, arranged by those who owed their lives to him, is in a graveyard on Mount Zion. Exit the Zion Gate, turn left, cross the road, and continue downhill around to the right to a Catholic cemetery (many of the graves have Arabic inscriptions). The grave of the often puzzling but heroic Oskar Schindler is in the lower tier, marked by the many stones that visitors leave on it (a Jewish tradition).
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