Cenacle comes from Latin, meaning dining room. According to Christian Bible, the Last Supper and other significant events occurred here.
Note: Cenacle is also called the Upper Room.
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The Cenacle is situated on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It is located to the South of the Old City, and a short walk from Zion Gate will lead you there.
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You can find the following map in several places in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Note: you can click on the map to enlarge it.
Mount Zion is located at the bottom of the map. And Room of the Last Supper is in square N5, marked as #14.
Room of the Last Supper is located in a three-story building. On the ground floor, you can visit King David’s Tomb. On the second floor, there is the Cenacle. And on the top floor, which is mostly the roof, you can see the Former President’s Room and stunning views of the surroundings.
Moreover, it is located by Dormition Abbey.
Directions and Parking
For detailed directions, check my guide to the Old City Of Jerusalem.
The opening hours are 8:00 – 18:00 daily.
Closed on Yom Kippur.
This place has three common names. The first name, Room of the Last Supper, derives from the tradition that this is the site of the Last Supper (Jesus’s final meal, which he shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before the crucifixion). The other two names are less straightforward.
What is the Meaning of the word Cenacle?
Cenacle comes from the Latin word “coenaculum,” which means “dining room.”
“Cenacle” is a derivative of the Latin word cēnō, which means “I dine”. Jerome used the Latin coenaculum for both Greek words in his Latin Vulgate translation.
The Last Supper in the Bible
The last supper is described in all four canonical Gospels (Matthew 26:17–30, Mark 14:12–26, Luke 22:7–39, and John 13:1–17:26).
The upper room is mentioned in Mark 14:15, Luke 22:12, and Acts 1:13. Here are the relevant quotes:
“Upper Room” is derived from the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke, which both employ the Koine Greek: αναγαιον, anagaion, (Mark 14:15 and Luke 22:12), whereas the Acts of the Apostles uses Koine Greek: ύπερωιον, hyperōion (Acts 1:13), both with the meaning “upper room”.
Mark 14:15 (New International Version)
He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.
Luke 22:12 (New International Version)
He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.
Acts 1:13 (New International Version)
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James, son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas, son of James.
Other Events that Took Place at the Upper Room
As I mentioned, it is called Room of the Last Supper, for the most memorable event. But it is not the only event. There were many others.
The Cenacle is considered the site where many other events described in the New Testament took place, such as:
- preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ final Passover meal
- the washing of his disciples’ feet
- certain resurrection appearances of Jesus
- the gathering of the disciples after the Ascension of Jesus
- the election of Saint Matthias as an apostle
- the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost
What did Jesus say at the Last Supper
There are many versions, and the common is that after passing the bread, Jesus said: “Take, eat; this is my body.” And after giving wine, he said: “This is my blood of the covenant.” Here is a quote from Mark 14:22-24 (New International Version):
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.
The Room of the Last Supper is not big (15X12 meters). And the photo below shows most of it. Nevertheless, there are many exciting details. For example, if you take a closer look, you will see a Mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca). Moreover, the stained window (on the right) has an Arabic inscription. To understand more, let’s look at Cenacle’s history.
The early history of the Cenacle site is uncertain; scholars have attempted to establish a chronology based on archaeological, artistic, and historical sources.
Based on the survey conducted by Jacob Pinkerfeld in 1948, Pixner believes that the original building was a synagogue later probably used by Jewish Christians. However, no architectural features associated with early synagogues, such as columns, benches, or other accouterments, are present in the lower Tomb chamber. According to Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, writing towards the end of the 4th century, the building and its environs were spared during the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus (AD 70). Pixner suggests that the Mount Zion site was destroyed and rebuilt in the later first century. The lowest courses of ashlars (building stones) along the north, east, and south walls are attributed by Pinkerfeld to the late Roman period (135-325 AD). Pixner believes that they are Herodian-period ashlars, dating the construction of the building to an earlier period. Many scholars, however, date the walls’ earliest construction to the Byzantine period and identify the Cenacle as the remains of a no-longer-extant Hagia Sion (“Holy Zion”) basilica. The Roman emperor Theodosius I constructed the five-aisled Hagia Sion basilica likely between 379 and 381 AD.
Sixth-century artistic representations, such as the mosaics found in Madaba, Jordan (the “Madaba Map”) and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, depict a smaller structure to the south of basilica. Some have identified this smaller structure as the Cenacle, thus demonstrating its independence from and possible prior existence to the basilica. The basilica (and the Cenacle?) was later damaged by Persian invaders in 614 AD but restored by the patriarch Modestus. In AD 1009, the church was destroyed by the Muslim caliph Al-Hakim. Shortly afterward, it was replaced by the Crusaders with a cathedral named Saint Mary featuring a central nave and two side aisles. The Cenacle was either repaired or enclosed by the Crusader church, occupying a portion of two aisles on the right (southern) side of the altar. The Crusader cathedral was destroyed in the late 12th or early 13th century, but the Cenacle remained. (Today, part of the site upon which the Byzantine and Crusader churches stood is believed to be occupied by the smaller Church of the Dormition and its associated Abbey.)
Syrian Christians maintained the Cenacle until the 1330s, when it passed into the custody of the Franciscan Order of Friars, who managed the structure until 1524. Ottoman authorities took possession of the Cenacle at that time, converting it into a mosque. The Franciscans were evicted from their surrounding buildings in 1550. Architectural evidence remains of the period of Muslim control, including the elaborate mihrab in the Last Supper Room, the Arabic inscriptions on its walls, the Qubba over the stairwell, and the minaret and dome atop the roof. Christians were not allowed to return until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The historical building is currently managed by the State of Israel Ministry of the Interior.
I suggest combining a visit to Cenacle with other places on Mount Zion and the Old City. And for additional info about the city, see Jerusalem.
Have you ever been to the Cenacle? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.