Skip to Content

Exploring the Ancient Jewish Cemetery on Mount of Olives

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 Messiah 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 dead 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 Messiah 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 the 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.

These are the new essentials you have to pack for your trip

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!

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.


Sunday 7th of May 2023

This article has a big error that is repeated again. Jews believe they will be resurrected when the Messiah will come, and don’t believe in Jesus.

Alex Hash

Monday 15th of May 2023

While it is true that Jews believe in the concept of resurrection, it is important to note that their beliefs differ from those of Christians. In Jewish tradition, the belief in resurrection is connected to the coming of the Messiah, who will bring about the ultimate redemption of the world. Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, nor do they believe in his divinity or role as a savior. Jewish faith is rooted in the teachings of the Torah and the belief in the oneness of God.