The Mount of Olives of has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years, dating back to biblical times, and was named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes.
The mount of has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years, dating back to biblical times, and holds approximately 150,000 graves, making it central in the tradition of Jewish cemeteries.
The southern part of the mount was the necropolis, was the burial place of Jerusalem’s most important citizens, attributed to the ancient Kingdom of Judah .
During the Second Temple Period, the religious ceremony marking the start of a new month was held on the Mount of Olives.
After the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews made pilgrimages to the Mount of Olives because it offered a panoramic view Temple Mount on which the only Temple stood.
It became a traditional place for lamenting the Temple’s destruction, especially on Tisha B’Av.
In 1481, an Italian Jewish pilgrim, Meshullam of Volterra, wrote: “And all the community of Jews, every year, goes up to Mount Zion on the day of Tisha B’Av to fast and mourn, and from there they move down along Yoshafat Valley and up to Mount of Olives. From there they see the whole Temple (the Temple Mount) and there they weep and lament the destruction of this House.”
During the 19 years the Jordanian held, what is now known as East Jerusalem, Jews of all countries were barred from the the Mount of Olives and all other Jewish sites under their control.
Throughout the Jordanian rule of the site, Arab residents uprooted tombstones, a road was paved through the cemetery destroying graves in the process, and graves were also demolished for parking lots and a filling station.
The Jewish graves were also used in latrines at a Jordanian Army barracks.
An estimated 38,000 tombstones in total including those of famous persons.
The United Nations did not condemn the Jordanian government for these actions.
However, tombs in the Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery have been prone to vandalism by Muslim residence, among them the tombs of the Gerrer Rebbe and Menachem Begin.
Visiting the Mount of Olives
Checkout the Mount of Olives webpage for information on how to get there.
Security is provided free of charge once arriving at the cemetery. However, keep in mind, it is not unheard of for young Arab residence to stone cars and buses on the way there and/or back.
Sunday – Thursday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
The Information Center at the Mount of Olives is closed on Fridays and Holiday Evenings
Bathrooms are located onsite, free of charge.
How to get to the Mount of Olive by Public Transportation
Take line 83/83a or 51 towards Mount of olives. Get off at the bus stop called Har-Hazetim that is right to the Information center.
Take line 84 towards The Seven arches hotel.
- Take line 1 or 3 towards the Western Wall (Kotel). Get off at the bus stop called Derech Jericho/Derech Ha’Ophel, three stops before the bus stop for the Kotel.
- Continue walking towards the traffic light and cross the street.
- Walk towards the cemetery until after the Gethsemane
- A large Israeli flag and sign are prominently displayed on the Information Center, to your right.