David’s citadel, Mt. Zion and Christian sites

This post is part of my Israel travel series Scrolls from the Holy Land: Travel stories | Photo gallery

The citadel of David

Jerusalem has been a center of activity for such a long time that wave after wave of different civilizations battled for it. Beit She’an, Akko are few examples. The Tower of David is a defensive fort built on the edge of the old city and it has recorded this flavor. Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City’s defenses, the citadel was constructed during the second century BCE and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt by, in succession, the Christian, Muslim, Mamluk, and Ottoman conquerors of Jerusalem.

The citadel is a cultural center today and is visited by millions of tourists. It offers very clean and beautiful views of New Jerusalem city, predominantly the Jewish areas and that explains its strategic importance during the old times and even as recent as the Arab control over the city before the 6-day war. Every ruler of this place upgraded it, thus leaving a mark of their presence.

I was in the western side of the old city (Christian and Armenian Quarters) for an entire day because there is so much to see here. Christian pilgrims swamped the whole place, mostly dominated by Russian Orthodox Christians (it was their Christmas holiday). There are several (maybe hundreds of) churches in these two quarters and hundreds of young volunteers work at these religious centers from all across the world.

Hagia Maria Sion Abbey, or the Dormition Church

Mount Zion is a hill south of the Armenian Quarter just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Mount Zion is the modern name of the hill – the result of a misnomer dating from the Middle Ages when pilgrims mistook the relatively large, flat summit for the original site of the City of David.

Important sites on Mount Zion are Dormition Abbey, King David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. Oskar (Oscar) Schindler is buried in a cemetery here.

Situated on the modern Mount Zion, just outside the walls of Old City is the The Dormition Church which was called Abbey of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, but the name was changed in 1998 in reference to the church of Hagia Sion that formerly stood on this spot.

Room of the last supper:

Christian pilgrims praying in the room of last supper

Among the little joys of exploring a place yourself is finding something that you least expected. I was walking in this area very casually, admittedly in the Christian / Armenian quarter and stumbled at this place. What an amazing piece of Bibical history! I was overwhelmed and wanted to run around screaming “I saw the room of the last supper!” “I saw the room of the last supper!” Yeah, so? Soon I realized that nobody would have cared – it was as if I go to Egypt and say ‘oh I saw the pyramids’. Indeed, everyone else has done the same.

I had already seen so many prominent Christian sites (that most of my information about that religion today comes from Israel), some of them being:

° Church of Nativity, Bethlehem: The birth place of Jesus,
° Via Dolorosa (Stations of the cross), Muslim and Christian quarters, Jerusalem: Jesus’s last walk
° Church of the Sepulcher, Christian quarter, Jerusalem: The site of crucifixion.
° Numerous sites along the Sea of Galilee, Galilee

So this room was another significant addition in my trip seemingly overloaded with Christian pilgrimage sites, haha 😛 I think religious Christians will have a ball in Israel visiting all these sites (duh, ofcourse!) Several tourist companies bring pilgrims from all over the world. There are endless number of things to see.

This post is part of my Israel travel series Scrolls from the Holy Land: Travel stories | Photo gallery