Where to go Guide
Built between 1906 – 1910 by the German Benedictine Fathers, the Church of Dormition also known as Dormition Abbey, is one of Jerusalem’s most prominent landmarks. Build in the neo-Roman style, with a large conical roof rising up in the skyline, the site marks the spot where the Virgin Mary fell into her ‘eternal sleep.’ The Latin name for the Church is Dormitio Sanctae Mariae, meaning ‘the falling asleep of St. Mary.’ In the Christian tradition, the Church marks the spot where Mary fell asleep and was raised up to heaven.
The site of the Dormition Abbey was once the ruins of a synagogue, that in the 4th century was enlarged and turned into a church. At the beginning of the 5th century, a large Byzantine basilica known as ‘Hagia Sion’ was erected in its place; however, the basilica was destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614 AD. In the 12th century a new church was built by the Crusaders, larger than all its predecessors and called ‘Santa Maria in Monte Sion.’
Inside the Abbey, the main Church contains a massive mosaic floor, done in the Byzantine style. There is a triangle in the center of the mosaic which represents the Holy Trinity. Surrounding the main Church are depictions of Biblical women. The main feature of the Church is the Chapel of the Dormition, in the crypt located down a spiral stairway. In the center of the Chapel there is a life-sized depiction of the Virgin Mary lying in her tomb, surrounded by images of the Virgin Mary from all over the world.