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Jerusalem attractions category

Chapel of the Ascension

Jerusalem Attractions  - 76


The Chapel of Ascension has a complex history that begins in 392 CE, when it was built by Poimenia of the royal family. Until then, the site Jesus' traditional ascension into heaven had been traditionally associated with a cave on the Mount of Olives that was selected by Emperor Constantine as one of the three "mystic caves" where notable Christian mysteries occurred. In addition to the Ascension, the cave on the Mount of Olives is also associated with Jesus' New Testament counseling of his disciples and his prophecies of the end of days. Above this cave, the Church of Eleona was built. But even before a church was built on the peak of the Mount of Olives, the Feast of Ascension was celebrated in this location, so as to be open to the sky.


While the Ascension could have taken place in a cave, the idea of its taking place on the peak of the mountain beneath the open sky was more appealing. So it only seemed natural that a church should be built to mark the spot, and this was carried about by Poimenia in the late fourth century. A circular chapel open to the sky was built, surrounded by a monastery complex. A treasure of the chapel was - and is still today - a stone supposedly marked with the footprints of Jesus as he completed the Ascension. There are two such stones associated with this area, but the other now resides at Al Aqsa Mosque, since Muslims also acknowledge the sanctity of the Ascension. When Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders, he gifted one of his men with the Chapel of Ascension and it was thereby transformed into a mosque.


The Crusaders had constructed a newer building of their own to replace the Byzantine ruins; the Muslims took these changes even further by topping the once-open rooftop with a dome, and sealing off the archways that surround the courtyard with walls. The sacred stone with its footprint was moved from its central positioning to make way for a Muslim mihrab, a prayer wall that marks the direction of Mecca. Adjoining the old building is a newer mosque, where Muslims honor the Ascension. Today, several Christian communities are permitted to celebrate Mass during the Feast of Ascension in the chapel courtyard each year. Latin Christians are permitted to celebrate within the building.

  • Open on Saturday
  • Churches

Opening Hours

Sunday to Saturday, 8:00 to 18:00


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