Monastery of the Cross

Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12)


Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 4:30 pm
Cost: Small entrance fee
Phone: 02/679-0961


Monastery of the Cross

The Monastery of the Cross is located on Shalom Street, Neve Granot in West Jerusalem. It can be accessed from a service road that begins at the intersection of Harav-Herzog Blvd and Zalman-Shneur Rd. The Monastery of the Cross is a Greek Orthodox monastery built in the Byzantine style of architecture.

It derives its name from the belief that it stands in the place where the tree used to make the cross of Christ’s crucifixion once grew.  According to tradition, the tree was based on a triple seedling, olive and cypress and cedar, that Abraham once gave to Lot (in the Old Testament). Lot planted the tree and watered it with water from the Jordan River. Then, according to folklore, the cross used to crucify Christ was made from the resulting tree. There is a room inside the Monastery of the Cross marking the exact of the site of the tree.

The cross was then buried in the grave of Christ, the Holy Sepulchre. Helen, mother of Constantine, discovered fragments from Christ’s during her visit in 326 AD. The fragments are now on display in Rome.

The Monastery of the Cross’s simple dome is one of the structure’s most eye-catching features. This church also has many painted frescoes, which have been repainted since the 17th century. The original depictions were painting in the 13th century and combine Christian and pagan iconography. The ornate gold embossed furniture arches and exquisite ornamentation within the church, not to mention the grandeur of the complex’s walls and bell tower are beyond impressive! There is also a small museum within the monastery displaying some of the site’s treasures, and the refectory and kitchen allow visitors to catch a glimpse of what monastic life is like. .


The Monastery of the Cross was built in the 5th century but was destroyed during the Persian invasion in 614 AD. In 796, the Arabs brutally murdered all the monks residing in the monastery. It was then not rebuilt until the 11th century. A Georgian Monk oversaw the refurbishment of this classic monastery. During the times of the Crusaders, the Monastery of the Cross was well kept. From the 13th to the 14th century, it was quite large, housing hundreds of Georgian monks, poets and scholars.

After the Crusaders left Jerusalem in 1267 AD, the Mamluks took over control of the church and monastery. They added a mosque inside the walled complex. Mamluk ruler Baibars demolished the church and removed the monks. The monks were not allowed to return until 1305.

At the end of the 17th century, the Monastery of the Cross became a Greek-Orthodox monastery and church. The number of residents has dwindled to only a few over the years. The few resident monks keep the grounds and attend to the visiting Christian pilgrims who visit.

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