Cedars of Lebanon and native pine and cypress trees surround the entrance to Mt. Herzl National Memorial Park, the last resting place of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl and many Israeli leaders.
In 1894, the Budapest-born Herzl was the Paris correspondent for a Vienna newspaper when he covered the treason trial of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army. Dreyfus was later exonerated, but Herzl was shocked by the anti-Semitic outbursts that accompanied the trial. He devoted himself to the need for a Jewish state, convening the first World Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. That year Herzl wrote in his diary: "If not in five years, then in 50, [a Jewish state] will become reality." True to his prediction, the United Nations approved the idea exactly 50 years later, in November 1947. Herzl died in 1904, and his remains were brought to Israel in 1949. His simple grave marker, inscribed in Hebrew with just his last name, caps the hill.
To the left (west) of his tomb, a gravel path leads down to a section containing the graves of Israeli national leaders, among them prime ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and Yitzhak Rabin, and presidents Zalman Shazar and Chaim Herzog. Bear down and right through the military cemetery, exiting back on Herzl Boulevard, about 250 yards below the parking lot where you entered. The main gate closes at set times; the exit via the military cemetery is always open.
Herzl Museum. On the left as you enter Mt. Herzl National Memorial Park, the Herzl Museum is a strongly engaging, multimedia introduction to the life, times, and legacy of Israel's spiritual forebear, Theodore Herzl. Tours take 50 minutes and cost NIS 25. Call ahead for tours in English. Mt. Herzl National Memorial Park, Herzl Blvd., 96421. 02/632–1515. www.herzl.org. Sun.–Thurs. 8:30–5 (later tours possible Apr.–Sept.), Fri. 8:30–1, last tour 1 hr before closing, closed Jewish religious holidays eves.
Herzl Blvd., Jerusalem, Israel