Chapel of the Ascension

This admirable building blends the architectural features of the Crusader style with traits belonging to the Muslim tradition. The chapel rises on the site of an ancient paleo-Christian sanctuary, near the top of the Mount of Olives. The original building was surrounded by a double portico forming a circle. Destroyed by the Persians in the 614, it was rebuilt by the Crusaders in the form of a small, octagonal temple (twelfth century). Having come under the control of Muslims, to whom it has belonged since the thirteenth century, the building was converted into a mosque and completely transformed by walling in the arches and roofing over the octagon with a little dome of evident Islamic character. On a rock inside can be seen a footprint which is identified according to Christian tradition as the print that Jesus (pbuh) left as he ascended to Heaven: “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke, XXIV 50-51).

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