Mt. Zion

Also known as Mount Sion, the Upper City, the Southwestern Hill

Aerial from the South

The modern Mount Zion is a misnomer applied by Byzantine pilgrims who thought that the larger, flatter Western Hill must be the original City of David.  Archaeological evidence has shown that this hill was only incorporated within the city’s fortifications in the 8th century BC. but the name has stuck.  The Hinnom Valley borders this hill on its western and southern sides.

Dormition Abbey

Crowning the summit of the modern Mount Zion is Dormition Abbey.  Commemorating the rest that Mary entered into, this complex was constructed by Kaiser Wilhelm II beginning in 1900.  The church was built in response to a request to have a German Catholic church in the city following the Kaiser’s support for the construction of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in 1898.

St. Peter in Gallicantu

On the southeastern slope of the hill is one of the traditional locations for the house of Caiaphas.  Gallicantu means “cock crowing” and it remembers the three denials of Peter.  Built atop the ruins of a Byzantine church and monastery, Catholic pilgrims believe that the prison in which Christ was held is located inside the church.  Others believe that a more likely location for Caiaphas’ house is in the Armenian property outside Zion Gate.

The Upper Room

The room visited by tourists today is a Crusader structure as evidenced by the architecture.  On the first floor below this room is the traditional tomb of David.  The location of this “tomb” outside of the City of David precludes its authenticity but some suggest that evidence in the “tomb” indicates an early Jewish-Christian presence (or synagogue).  If so, this could support this general area as the location of the biblical “Upper Room.”

Protestant Cemetery

In the backyard of the Bishop Gobat School (today Jerusalem University College) is the Protestant Cemetery where many notables of the 19th century are buried.  The writer of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul,” Horatio G. Spafford, is buried in the far center of this photograph.  Also buried in this cemetery are important archaeologists Sir Flinders Petrie and James Leslie Starkey.

View from Bell Tower

This rare shot from the top of the Dormition Abbey bell tower gives a view of Mount Zion and the Western Hill from the south.  Visible are the south wall of the Old City and the Armenian Quarter with the Mount of Olives on the right horizon.  Dormition Abbey is home today to German Catholic monks.

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Related Websites

Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion (BAR and Century One Foundation)  A 1990 BAR article demonstrates a logical progression of thought leading to the re-identification of the traditional tomb of King David as the famous Church of the Apostles.

Mount Zion (Christian Travel Study Program)  Contains some minor factual errors due to the failure to recognize that Mt. Zion is mis-named.  No pictures.

Mount Zion (Century One Bookstore)  An article taken from the book, Palestine Explored  by 19th century resident of Jerusalem, Rev. James Neil.

A brief introduction to Mount Zion (Personal Page)  An interesting article told from the perspective of a Jewish student studying the Crusades.  See also A Walking Tour of Mount Zion to continue the adventure.

Mount Zion (Crystalinks)  A good (albeit slightly off the subject in parts) article discussing the role of the Western Hill in Jerusalem of Jesus’ day.  Visual images include a good map of the Western Hill, photographs, and a schematic of the Medaba Map with pertinent locations marked.

Mount Zion (Frommer’s)  A brief description of the main sight seeing attractions on the Western Hill, complete with directions and hours of operation.

Christian Mount Sion (Franciscan Cyberspot)  An extensive study of the Christian history associated with the modern Mt. Zion, especially as it relates to the Franciscans.

The Room of the Last Supper (Franciscan Cyberspot) Introduces several sites on the Western Hill, features many large photographs.

Mt. Zion (Furman University)  Briefly highlights the main facts about the Western Hill.  Continue to site 25 to see the Traditional Upper Room.

Zion (Personal Page)  Text and pictures noting different sites on the mountain.  Author fails to mention the traditional nature of most sites.  Note: Visitors may experience a banner ad assault!

View of Mount Zion and Military Trenches (Jerusalem Archives)  Photo of Mt. Zion and military trenches in 1965.  Supporting text reveals interesting details about current events at that time.

Mount Zion Catholic Cemetery (Find A Grave)  Only lists Oskar Schindler’s tomb in Mt. Zion Catholic Cemetery.

Jerusalem University College The campus is located on modern Mt. Zion.  This is a good school to consider for short-term and graduate study in Israel.