Mount of Olives cemetery, oldest Jewish cemetery on Earth

Cemetery on Mount of Olives

The Jewish Mount of Olives cemetery is the oldest, largest and most significant Jewish cemetery from the whole world.

It has over 250 dunams and is located in the eastern part of the Temple Mount. This is the place where Jewish people buried their personalities and some of their people for the last 3,000 years.

This sacred place for Christians and Muslims is mentioned in the prophet Ezekiel visions and in the prophecies of Zechariah.

This place is indeed special and has some unique qualities. It is considered that dead people buried in this cemetery are exempted from „separation of the soul at the grave” and „migration via underground passages”.

Cemetery on Mount of Olives
Cemetery on Mount of Olives

Jewish people believe that the resurrection of the dead process will start with the people buried at the Mount Olives Cemetery. They are the first ones who will resurrect according to the prophesied of the Jewish prophets.

Another Jewish tradition which is still alive in the Jewish community is that Jewish people who live in Jerusalem to sent soil from the Mount of Olives to Jewish community living abroad.

The soil is spread on the Jewish graves of their beloved ones. If they could not be buried on Mount Olives cemetery at least a small part of holy soil to be spread on their grave, just to be sure that they will resurrect when Jesus will come again.

Who is buried on the cemetery on Mount of Olives?

Generally, Jewish people from Jerusalem are buried here. There are cases when Jewish people from outside of Jerusalem or from a foreign country asked to be buried there and they are.

How much does it cost to be buried on the Mount of Olives cemetery?

The price for a plot on Mount Olivet is around 22.500 USD. In the price, it is included the ceremony which lasts for 15 minutes and the burial shroud of 1.2 metres deep and 60 cm wide.

All over the area, there are 12 separate burial locations.

Out of these 12 locations, 4 are most important. These are:

  1. the ancient Sephardic burial area where are buried Jews from Jerusalem who died anytime between the beginning of the fourteenth century until 1856.
  2. After the year of 1856, only the Jewish people from Oriental communities who worked and lived in Jerusalem until the War of Independence in 1948 can be buried in these part of the Mountain.
  3. The cemetery of the main General Burial Society where are buried Ashkenazi Jews excluding Perushim who died anytime from the beginning of 1856 and the War of Independence
  4. The Hassidim’s Cemetery contains many burial plots of Hassidic societies who died anytime between 1956 and War of Independence in 1948. All the Jews buried there were dynastic rabbis and members of Jerusalem’s Hassidic courts.
  5. Another section of the cemetery of the General Burial Society where were buried more than 5.000 people who lived in Jerusalem and died between 1939- 1948.

Besides these 4 major cemetery on Mount of Olives which cover almost the entire area of the hill, there are 8 minor burial areas that belong to the Oriental community.

Actually, Jewish people start to bury their deads in Mount of Olives cemetery during the time of King David, I mean 1000 BCE. During these times the Jewish people started to move to Jerusalem and the city became the capital of the Jewish people.

The oldest grave from the Mount of Olives dated from biblical times, more exactly from the times when on what it is today Jerusalem was the Arab village of Silwan.

According to the historical sources, the Jewish people used to bury their dead on the southern and eastern part of the Temple Mount during the Arab, Crusader and Mameluk periods.

During the Ottoman rule, the Jewish people returned to the Mount of Olives and buried their dead there in the cemetery on Mount of Olives.

Why are there graves on the Mount of Olives?

During the 19th century, a very interesting answer was given to this question. For Jewish people, this is the Holy Soil and it is believed that the ones who are buried here will among the first ones who will resurrect when Jesus will come again.

Mt of olives Jerusalem olive tree
Mt of olives Jerusalem olive tree

So, more and more old Jew people come to Jerusalem to live their last part of their lives and to be buried here, in the Holy Land. The desire to be buried here is directly linked with the advantages mentioned above, that they will be among the firsts who will resurrect.

Mount of Olives cemetery is a sacred place where only Jewish people are buried. The huge cemetery on Mount of Olives has more than 150.000 plots and visiting this part of the hill is possible if you follow some simple but strict rules.

Where to sleep to be close to Mount of Olives

Arthur Hotel an Atlas Boutique Hotel is a great hotel located right in the centre of the city, 2.5 kilometres away from the Mount of Olives Israel. The rooms are clean and well maintained and the breakfast is good with various options.

Mount of Olives is an interesting experience and a place full of history! You definitely have to see it!

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