Categories: Jerusalem

Monastery of the Cross – Emek HaMatzlevah : Jerusalem


Adding to the list of wonderful things to see around where area I grew up in Jerusalem is the Monastery of the Cross. Looking down from my old neighborhood – Rehavia, you’ll see that Monastery of the Cross is down the valley from the hill where the Museum of Israel is, and not too far away from another hill which hosts the Israeli Knesset. In most places in Asia, history doesn’t really go very far and when it does it usually means that it’s a famous tourist attraction with long lines of tourists waiting to see the miracle. But, in Jerusalem you’ve got history at every corner and no one really thinks too much about it. Just look at this gorgeous monastery…

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Another example would be this 2000+ years old Hasmonean tomb in the middle of Rehavia from long ago when Jews still ruled this land…

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Now, a 2000 years old tomb in the center or Rehavia, you’d expect someone would make an effort to conserve and promote this place as a tourist destination or atleast protect it somehow, wouldn’t you? But not in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, it’s only another old grave in the middle of a residential neighborhood, which means that it was mostly me and my good old dog (/friend/brother) who were enjoying that place…

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Same with this monastery. I think my good old dog (/friend/brother) knew more about this monastery than anyone else, especially considering the number of time my mom took him to explore that valley.

What is this monastery about, you ask? Adam’s head, it seems. Wikipedia has a bit of the history  :

The monastery was built in the 11th century, during the reign of King Bagrat IV by the Georgian Giorgi-Prokhore of Shavsheti. It is believed that the site was originally consecrated in the 4th century under the instruction of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who later gave the site to king Mirian III of Kartli after the conversion of his kingdom to Christianity in 327 A.D.

Legend has it that the monastery was erected on the burial spot of Adam’s head — though two other locations in Jerusalem also claim this honor — from which grew the tree that gave its wood to the cross on which Christ was crucified.

Due to heavy debt the monastery was sold by the Georgians to the Greeks in 1685. It is currently occupied by monks of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

The remains of the crusader-period monastery forms a small part of the current complex, most of which has undergone restoration and rebuilding. The crusader section houses a church, including a grotto where a window into the ground below allows viewing of the spot where the tree from which the cross was (reputedly) fashioned grew. Remains from the 4th century are sparse, the most important of which is a fragment of a mosaic.

You can actually go in for a visit from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 1:30pm.

In the meanwhile…

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Since you’re in the area, the valley leading up to the Museum of Israel also has other ruins…

I’m quite sure this is another ordinary 2000+ years old something in the city filled with 2000+ years old ruins. Will have to look that up at some point…

Thanks, again, to my dear mother, who took me out to explore this place and take photos on my last visit to Israel.

(in honor of my long loved and missed old dog (/friend/brother) – Babby)

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