Grotto of Gethsemane

The Grotto of the Betrayal - Grotto of the Agony


Useful Information

photography
Map of Grotto of Gethsemane/Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Jerusalem, Israel. Public Domain.
Location: Jerusalem.
East of the Old City, in the valley below, near the Tomb of the Virgin/Church of Assumption. Walk No. 4. from Damascus Gate, Bus No. 1.
(31.779947205112983, 35.23963578625215)
Open: All year Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat 8:30-12, 14:30-17, Thu, Sun 8:30-12, 14:30-15:40.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=19 m, W=10 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Grotto of Gethsemane. TeL: +972-2-625-8844.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

6th cty served some Christian communities as a cenacle.
1333 mentioned by the German Dominican Wilhelm von Boldensele.
1361 the Franciscans got possession of the grotto.
17th cty bought by the Franciscans.
1919 Eastern Orthodox Christians renounced their rights to the land.
1938 entrance repaired.
1955 destruction by a flood.
1956 restoration of cave and entrance.

Description

photography
Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Jerusalem, Israel. Public Domain.

The Grotto of Gethsemane is located at the place of an ancient olive grove, identified as the place where Jesus went to pray the night before he was crucified. His disciples are believed to have slept in the cave. Here Jesus, betrayed by Judas, was arrested. If you believe the Bible and if this is actually the place which is described.

Located in the Garden Gethsemane the natural cave was used by farmers to store grains. During the first 400 years the place of the betrayal was a stone on the left of the pathway, which linked the city of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives. Then, for nearly 1000 years this cave was said to be the place of betrayal. Since then, it was a pilgrimage site for devout Christians. There have been various accounts that caves was the site of a ‘meal’ or supper between Christ and his apostles. It also has been suggested as the site of the Last Supper, for example by the Archdeacon Theodosius. From the 6th century on it served some Christian communities as a cenacle. In the year 1333 the German Dominican named Wilhelm von Boldensele wrote about the cave, claiming it was the grotto where the agony of Christ occurred. As a result it was renamed Grotto of the Agony. Today it is again generally accepted that Jesus’s agony occurred at the Garden of Gethsemane, while his betrayal occurred at the grotto. The belief that the last supper was held here persisted until the 15th century, but was then gradually forgotten. So all in all it is difficult, not to say impossible, to determine what exactly happened here. Nevertheless, it's an impressive location and a holy location for thousands of visitors every year.

The cave was bought by the Franciscans in the 17th century, but for some reason their ownership was disputed and not certain. The Eastern Orthodox Christians used the cave, but renounced their rights to the land in 1919. The site is today maintained by the Franciscans. After the destruction by the flood of 1955 a Frater Virgil Corbo renovated the cave to its current state. The closed the original entrance and created a new one which was smaller and less prone to floods.

The cave contains three altars with murals above. The paintings over the high altar show Jesus praying among the Apostles, the Assumption of the Virgin and the Kiss of Judas. It was renovated in 1955, but it still looks more or less like 2000 years ago. It is the holy place in Jerusalem, which was best conserved its original appearance. As you can see on the map, there is a courtyard, and the entrance to the right is into the natural cave of Gethsemane. Straight ahead is a church, which actually contains a long staircase leading down to the cave tomb of Virgin Mary. The cave is a sacred site, so you should be quiet inside and not disturb the people praying inside. Also you should wear appropriate clothes. The tour guides seem to have ignored this and continues the loud explanations inside so the friars added a sign to the door. We found this pretty funny.