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Mt. of Olives Observation Point

Mt. of Olives Observation Point Review

The Old City, with its landmark domes and towers, is squarely within your lens in this classic, picture-postcard panoramic view. It's best in the early morning, with the sun at your back, or at sunset on days with some clouds, when the golden glow and sunbeams more than compensate for the glare.

The magnificent, gold Dome of the Rock and the black-domed al-Aqsa Mosque to the left of it dominate the skyline; but look behind them for the large gray dome of the Holy Sepulcher and (farther left) the white one of the Jewish Quarter's Hurva Synagogue for a hint of the long-running visibility contest among faiths and nations. To the left of the Old City, the cone-roof Dormition Abbey and its adjacent clock tower crown Mt. Zion, today outside the walls but within the city of the Second Temple period.

The Mt. of Olives has been bathed in sanctity for millennia. On the slope beneath you, and off to your left, is the vast Jewish cemetery, reputedly the oldest still in use anywhere in the world. For more than two thousand years, Jews have been buried here to await the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection to follow. The raised structures over the graves are merely tomb markers, not crypts; burial is belowground.

Camel and donkey drivers (usually one of each) are always pushing to give you a short ride (not cheap!), and the vendors can be persistent, but a polite "no thank you" is sometimes enough for them to go bother someone else. Beware of pickpockets here and on the road down to Gethsemane. Fairly good bathrooms are a welcome addition.

Updated: 07-13-2013

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