The place that seems unremarkable, but is actually one of the holiest places to Christians on the Mount of Olives. This is where Jesus ascended to heaven.
Visiting the Chapel of the Ascension
The Chapel of the Ascension is a good place to start your tour on the Mount of Olives. From there you can continue to the Pater Noster Church, the Mount of Olives lookout, the Dominus Flevit Church and the Gethsemane Church. Knees and shoulders must be covered.
Opening Hours: 8:00–17:00 (every day)
If it’s closed when you visit, you can knock on the door of the adjacent mosque and ask to be let in.
Christ lived on the Mount of Olives during the last week of his life. He was crucified and buried on a Friday (in the place where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands today). On Sunday, his coffin was found empty. Jesus walked on Earth for another forty days and rose to heaven from this spot.
The History of the Chapel of Ascension
On top of the site where a church dating back from the 5th century stood, the Crusaders built an octagonal, fortified church. Today, only the outer walls and the aedicule, a small octagon-shaped building in the center of the site, remain. On the floor of the building, you can see a stone with Christ’s footprint. After the Muslims conquered the place in 1187, they converted the church into a mosque, which is why the place has two names – the Mosque of the Ascension or the Church (or Chapel) of the Ascension. The Muslims do not believe that Christ is the son of God but do recognize him as an important prophet, which is why they turned the church into a mosque. In the Crusaders’ church, the stone containing the footprint of Christ was in the center of the room, but after it became a mosque, the Muslims moved the stone a couple of centimeters southward toward the direction of Mecca – the direction to which they pray.
Today, the place enjoys a special status – it is usually used as a mosque except on the day that Christians mark Jesus’ ascension to heaven; for that one day, it becomes a church. This is the only place in the world that serves as both a church and a mosque.
Like what you’re reading? Great! This post is part of my Jerusalem booklet. If you like what you’re reading and are planning to travel to Israel, or if you just want to support me, you can download my eBooks from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Apple iBook. Or order all three booklets from Amazon.
More sights in Jerusalem:
Gethsemane – the hardest point in Jesus’ life
The Mount of Olives – the place to be at the end of days…
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Wailing Wall (Kotel) – not the holiest place for the Jews
The Old City of Jerusalem – the holiest square kilometer in the world
The most important museums in Jerusalem