Mt Zion is just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. It has significance for all three monotheistic religions; and has many interesting sites – including King David’s Tomb & The Room of the Last Supper. It also has some superb views – especially from the Mt Zion Viewpoint.
Landmarks on Mount Zion
The building with a round, squat tower on Mount Zion is the Abbey of the Dormition (or simply Dormition Abbey). The site where the church stands today is traditionally considered as the place where Virgin Mary died — thus, the word “dormition” means a “painless death” or “peaceful sleep”). It was first established in the 5th century A.D., while the current church and monastery, owned by the German Benedictine order, was consecrated in 1906. It is one of the most prominent landmarks in Jerusalem because of its imposing size, beautiful Romanesque architectural style, and location that overlooks the Old City. And it’s unique due to its unusual round shape, while most churches in Jerusalem are rectangular.
Not far from the Dormition Abbey is King David’s Tomb, with the Room of the Last Supper, or Cenacle, located above it. King David’s Tomb is considered by many as David’s resting place, although the tradition can be traced back to the 12th century — so it’s pretty more recent than you might expect. It is still open to debate, though, as the majority of historians and archaeologists do not consider the site as the actual burial place of King David.
Above King David’s Tomb is the Room of the Last Supper, also called Cenacle (or “Coenaculum” in Latin), where Jesus celebrated the Passover Seder — more famously known as The Last Supper — with his twelve disciples. But like in the case of King David’s Tomb, many also question this room’s authenticity.
Near King David’s Tomb is a small museum, the Chamber of the Holocaust, Israel’s first Holocaust museum. The museum is now located at Ma’ale Shazkh street. It has a large courtyard and ten exhibition rooms. It bears tombstone-like plaques that bear the names of the 2,000-plus Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis. These plaques are inscribed in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English.
There’s a Catholic Franciscan cemetery on Mount Zion where people go to pay respects to a notable person — Oskar Schindler, a Nazi who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factory.
The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu is a Roman Catholic church located on Mount Zion’s eastern slopes, just outside the Old City walls. “Gallicantu” means “cock’s crow” in Latin, and “Peter in Gallicantu” is a reference to Peter’s denial of Jesus, “before the cock crows twice” (Mark 14:30). The site of the church used to be the location of a Byzantine-era shrine dedicated to Peter’s repentance, but it was later destroyed. The Crusaders then built a chapel on the same spot, but it fell into ruin and was not reconstructed until 1931. You can see the golden rooster that perches above the sanctuary roof, in honor to the church’s biblical connection.