Visitors entering the large green gate of the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene near the foot of the Mount of Olives feel they are not only stepping back in time, but entering another country. Many Jerusalem churches give this feeling, and for good reason: they are the legacy of the nineteenth century, when the crowned heads of Europe all graced the Holy City with grand buildings in the styles of their own country.
The church reflects much Russian history – it was built in 1895 by Czar Alexander III in memory of his mother Maria Alexandrovna, and named for her patron saint, Mary Magdalene. With its seven magnificent onion-topped, glinting gold domes in the style of Moscow’s sixteenth-century churches, this is one of the city’s best-known sacred landmarks.
The most impressive aspects of the visit are the blooming gardens and the breathtaking view of the Golden Gate, framed by cypress and olive trees.