The Church of Mary Magdalene was built in 1888 by Czar Alexander III of Russia, as a memorial to his mother the Empress Maria Alexandrovna. Mary Magdalene is venerated with particular devotion in the East Orthodox Church, lavishly sculpted of white sandstone and situated in a lush garden, the church is an idyllic retreat from the bustle of present-day Jerusalem.
One of the most ornate sites in Jerusalem, this church of seven turrets is located near the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus is said to have uttered his final prayers before the crucifixion.
Seven gilded onion domes, each topped by a tall Russian Orthodox cross, make the Church of St Mary Magdalene one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque sights. The church is a striking contrast to others in Jerusalem and is worth looking out for when scanning the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount or from church and synagogue towers you might climb for panorama views from the Old City.
The Church of Mary Magdalene is a place of daily worship for the nuns of the convent of Mary Magdalene, an order of about 40 women. According to Christian tradition, the surrounding caves in the Garden of Gethsemane were used by Jesus and his disciples for prayer, learning and relaying some of the parables that have been recorded in the New Testament. This includes the Olivet Prophecy, which foretold the destruction of Jerusalem.
Buried within the church is Princess Elizabeth Feodorovna, who was partly instrumental in the building of the church during her life, and expressed a wish to be buried there. Her wish was granted prematurely, as she met a violent death during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Today she is considered a martyr.
Visiting Hours of The Church of Mary Magdalene, Jerusalem
Visiting times are limited to 10-12pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, meaning that you have to plan according tif you want to enter the church grounds and building.