Not only is the peak of the mountain sacred, but some important Christian events and traditions relate
to the slopes of this hill. It is a part of the so called ‘Western hill’. Where the Jews built a neighborhood
since the 7th century b.c.e. and during the period of the Second Temple.
Today, visitors take a walk between the different churches and cemeteries in order to discover a hidden
side to the history of the city from the period of Jesus, the Crusaders and famous modern
figures like Oskar Schindler.
On the Eastern slope of Mount Zion hides a small modern church.
It contains three floors: the first one is the main church and the other
two serve as the crypt and are dated to the period of Jesus Christ.
Two main events from the New Testament happened in this location.
The first is the imprisonment of Jesus in the house of the high priest
Chaiapha, after he was captured in Gethsemane garden, and before he
was brought in front of Pontius Pilate to receive his sentence.
The second is Peter’s triple rejection of Jesus “before the cock crow twice”
(Mark 14, 30). The name of the church comes from this last event.
In Latin the cock crow is Galli Canto. The main church was built in
the beginning of the 20th century and it is dedicated to the figure
of Saint Peter.
Beside the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, excavations
have brought to light a stepped street which in ancient
times would have descended from Mount Zion to the Kidron
Valley. This street was in use during the period of Jesus.
According to Christian tradition, this road was used by Jesus
during his last night among the livings. It leads from Mount
Zion, the location of the last Supper Room, down to the Kidron
valley, area of the garden of Gethsemane.
It could have been in use, as well, on the way back to the city.
After his arrest by the Roman soldiers, he spent the night in a
cell in the house of the high priest Chaiapha, located today at the crypt of the church.
At the end of the stairs there is a model of the city of Jerusalem during the byzantine period,
6th and beginning of the 7th century c.e. It shows the size of the city, its topography, churches and streets.
The location of the churches is the same but the buildings were destroyed and rebuilt in the decades to fallow.
Akeldama, where Judas Iscariot died, is in Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley — a picturesque
setting whose infamous history of child sacrifices caused it to be identified with the hell of
unquenchable fire and punishment. The Greek Orthodox Monastery of St Onuphrius now
stands on the place where Judas
is believed to have hanged himself. The monastery occupies a narrow terrace on the Southern
face of the valley, facing Mount Zion and the Old City walls. Akeldama comes from
Aramaic words meaning Field of Blood.
The Gospel of Matthew says Judas repented after betraying Jesus with a kiss at Gethsemane.
He then took his payment of 30 pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders, and threw the money
down in the Temple. Near the Monastery of St Onuphrius are the remains of an underground charnel
house built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, to bury the 50 or more patients who died each day
in the hospital run by the Knights of St John near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Loads of soil from this place were often taken to consecrate Christian cemeteries in Europe.
Mount Zion host several cemeteries that belong to Jews
and different Christian communities: Catholic,
Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Protestants.
Not all of the cemeteries are accessible to the public.
The Jewish cemetery, also known as Sambosky cemetery,
served the small community in the Old City for a long
period of time.
In all of the Christian cemeteries, there are monuments with
the names of the soldiers who fought during the First World War.
The most famous person who is buried is Oskar Schindler,
who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.
He died in 1974 and asked to be buried in Israel.
His grave is located in the middle of the Catholic cemetery
of Mount Zion.