On Mount Zion, A Crossroads Of Faith And Fable
From the supposed tomb of King David to the site of the Last Supper, one of the world’s holiest hilltops remains a multi-tiered enigma
After the crumbling walls of the Old City were repaired by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538, he assumed everything had been done to his liking. But on his tour around the walls, the story goes, he suddenly fell into a terrible rage. His two architects had left historic Mount Zion outside the walls! Fully aware of Mount Zion’s strategic and religious value, the furious Sultan reputedly executed them both.
A fascinating tour of this very same Mount Zion includes a visit to some of the holiest sites on earth, like Dormition Abbey, whose name is an abbreviation for the longer phrase in Latin: Dormitio Beatae Mariae Virginis — the slumber of the Saint Virgin Mary.
During the Byzantine period many Christian traditions arose, among them the belief that Mary wasn’t dead but lay deep in eternal sleep. Mary’s crypt was said to be here, and Dormition Abbey was built over the 14th-century church believed to house it. Completed in 1910, the Abbey’s massive towers give it the look of a medieval fortress.