mount of olives. / by Levi Buchanan

Hiked up the Mount of Olives, stopping in the Garden of Gethsemane along the way (where a very cool priest offered me a clipping from one of the olive trees -- not one of the 2,000-year-old olive trees but very cool all the same). The morning sun blazed behind me, throwing incredible light across the scape of Jerusalem's Old City below. From the viewing station, you can see everything from the Dome of the Rock to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as well as posh hotels and cool museums, such as the very underrated Rockefeller Museum (which showcases lintels from the Crusader era Holy Sepulchre). I also ducked into the unassuming Chapel of the Ascension, where Jesus allegedly left this earth after the resurrection.

The sun rises on Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. 

Later in the day, walked along the Arab cemetery just below the Temple Mount to look back across at the Mount of Olives and the thousands of Jewish graves. It's said that when the day that ends all days arrives, those on the Mount of Olives will be among the first to ascend. In the valley below, there are massive graves misattributed to prophets -- these were likely very wealthy ancients that splurged for a front row seat to the last days. The number of shattered, desecrated graves on the Mount of Olives is horrific. Broken stones, overturned graves -- stomach-turning. A very sad reminder of just how contested this land is after all these millennia. 

And sets on the thousands of graves on the slopes of the mountain.