Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem

Distinguished by its blue conical roof, four ornamented turrets and landmark clock tower, the Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem is a German Benedictine church completed in 1910. It was built on land given by the Turkish sultan to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II and commemorates the "falling asleep" (dormitio) of the Virgin Mary.


History of Dormition Abbey

The land on which the Dormition Church stands was given to Kaiser Wilhelm II by the Turkish sultan on the occasion of the kaiser's visit to Jerusalem in 1898. Kaiser Wilhelm presented it to the German Catholic Society of the Holy Land, and the Church of the Virgin was built on the site from 1901-10 by the architect H. Renard. It was dedicated in 1910 by the German Benedictines.

What to See at Dormition Abbey

In the courtyard the remains of a mosaic floor from the Byzantine basilica that once stood here are displayed under a glass cover. Unfortunately, the glare off the glass makes the mosaic nearly impossible to see. The abbey's tall tower culminates in a balcony and dome with clock.

The echoing main church is round and uncluttered, conveying a strong sense of lightness and space. It is far from plain, however: the floor, walls and dome are all decorated with mosaics, mainly depicting the prophets and apostles. The apse features a lovely golden Byzantine-style mosaic of the Madonna and Child (from 1939) above the main altar. The six round chapels are decorated in gold.

The lower-level crypt is the traditional site of Mary's home and death. A circular pillared hall with ambulatories, it centers on the Chapel of the Dormition with a carved-stone figure of Mary in repose (dormitio). Above, a mosaic in the dome depicts Christ receiving her soul. Among the adjacent little chapels is one donated by the Ivory Coast, with wooden figures and motifs inlaid with ivory.

Facilities on the premises include a bookstore with maps and religious literature and a cafeteria serving light refreshments.

Quick Facts on Dormition Abbey

Site Information
Names:Dormition Abbey
Categories:churches; shrines
Dedication: Virgin Mary (Dormition)
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:31.772205° N, 35.228959° E
Lodging:View hotels near Dormition Abbey
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. Kay Prag, Blue Guide to Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Black and Norton, 2002), 213-14.
  2. Daniel Jacobs, Mini Rough Guide to Jerusalem (Rough Guides, 1999), 136-37.
  3. Fodor's Israel, 6th ed.

More Information

© Nir Nussbaum
on Mount Zion. © Chmouel

Map of Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem

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