Dormition Abbey – Photographed Visitors Guide


Dormition Abbey

According to tradition, Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion stands where Mary, Christ’s mother, fell asleep and was taken, body and soul, to heaven.

Note: I took the featured image from the roof of a nearby building. In that building, you can find Cenacle, King David’s Tomb, and Former President’s Room.

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Map

Dormition Abbey 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.

Map of the area:

And here is my photo of the Old City Map sign that I saw during one of my visits:

Jerusalem Old City Map
Jerusalem Old City Map

Note: you can click on the image to enlarge it.

Mount Zion is located at the bottom of the map. And Dormition Abbey is in square N5, marked as #11.

Directions and Parking

For detailed directions, check my guide to the Old City Of Jerusalem.

Entrance Fee

Free.

Opening Hours

Note: in September 2021, major reconstruction was begun in the Dormition – Church and Monastery. At this stage, the church is not accessible. The shop and cafeteria are not in use.

The official site lists the following opening hours:

Sundays: 11:30 – 17:30
Weekdays: 9:00 – 17:30

But during church services, the church is open only to worshipers. And I know this first hand since we were asked to leave at midday during one of our visits. So, when are masses? There are at 6:00, 7:00, 10:00 only on Sunday, 12:15, 18:15, and 20:00.

Taking the masses into account, the opening hours (that I saw on several other sites) are probably:

Weekdays: 8:30 – 11:45 and 12:30 – 18:00
Saturday: 8:30 – 11:45 and 12:30 – 17:30
Sunday: 10:30 – 11:45 and 12:30 – 17:30

View of Dormition Abbey from Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Jerusalem
View of Dormition Abbey from Mishkenot Sha’ananim

Contact Information

Phone: 02-5655-330
Email: abbey@dormition.net

Dormition Abbey when arriving from the Old City
Dormition Abbey when arriving from the Old City

I shot the following photo while standing very close to the Room of the Last Supper entrance.

Statue of David and Dormition Abbey
Statue of David and Dormition Abbey

History

Our Dormition Basilica is also relatively young with its barely hundred-year history. But it stands on old stone and oral testimonies of Christian belief. When the room of the Last Supper was lost during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman troops in 70 A.D., a Jewish-Christian synagogue was built on Mount Zion, later designated as the “Church of the Apostles.” In the fourth century, it was enlarged to become a small church. At the beginning of the fifth century, a large Byzantine basilica known as “Hagia Sion” was erected in its place. Which, however, was already destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614. Only in the 12th century was a new church built by the crusaders, larger than all its predecessors, and called “Santa Maria in Monte Sion.” However, when the Muslims retook the city from the crusaders in 1187, many traces of the brief Christian period were wiped away. The stone remains of Santa Maria are found today only in the area of the present-day Room of the Last Supper and deep in the ground beneath our monastery and our church.

A the end of the 19th century, when the Germans undertook to acquire the plot of land on Mount Zion, it was still a field of rubble behind which arose the Nebu Daoud (Prophet David) complex.

Source: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.

Entrance to Dormition Abbey
Entrance to Dormition Abbey

And now, let’s enter the Dormition Abbey.

Main entry door of Dormition Abbey
Main entry door of Dormition Abbey

Mosaic Floor

Dormition abbey has quite a unique architecture. It is a circular building with several niches (containing altars and a choir).

But in this section, I wanted to mention the unexpected zodiac floor mosaics (though it is hard to see it because of the chairs).

Interior of the Dormition Abbey
Interior of the Dormition Abbey

The floor mosaic of the upper church, which our confrere Mauritius Gisler designed and carried out in 1932, can be read as a kind of confession of faith and story of creation:

In the center, three concentric bands mark the center of the creation. The light of the triune God, his truth, and wisdom are carried out into the world by the greater and the lesser prophets and the apostles and evangelists. Additional bands are formed around the center until finally, the ends of the earth are reached – graphically and in letters presented as the names of the twelve months and the twelve signs of the zodiac. The entire circular presentation is surrounded by a quotation from the Book of Proverbs.

Dormition Abbey

The Crypt

Dormition Abbey has a crypt. You can use the stars in the far end to go one floor down to the crypt. In the crypt of the Basilica, you can find the site, where, according to the old Jerusalem tradition, Mary lived and died after the Resurrection of Jesus.

Dormition Abbey Crypt
Dormition Abbey Crypt

In the center of the crypt, you can find the statue of Mary.

Originally the gown of the figure of Mary was of chased silver and goldplated. After the war of 1948 and the occupation of the church, only the wooden core remained. The ivory hands also had to be replaced and the nose in ivory had to be repaired.

Crypt in the Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem, Israel
Dormition Abbey Crypt – the statue of Mary

Also, in the crypt, there is the altar for the reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Concerts

During one of our visits, a tour group entered the Dormition Abbey. Their guide left the group and went upstairs. As it turns out, the guide is also an organ player, and we enjoyed several music pieces.

As you can see from the following fisheye shot (I took it while looking straight up), there is an organ in the back.

Dormition Abbey
Dormition Abbey

Moreover, Dormition Abbey holds different concerts. You can find additional information about the shows either at the official site or at the Christian Information Center (which has concert information of many churches).

And the last photo was taken from behind the graveyard (located behind the Room of the Last Supper ).

Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem, Israel
Abbey of the Dormition and the graveyard

Summary

I would suggest combining a visit to Dormition Abbey with other places on Mount Zion and the Old City. And for additional info about the city, see Jerusalem.

Have you ever been to Dormition Abbey? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  
Did not find what you were looking for? Email me at hi@israel-in-photos.com, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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