About the Dormition Abbey
You can visit some parts of the church, be impressed by the ancient beauty and dimensions, and even enter the crypt, where you will find one of the most iconic statues of the Virgin Mary.
The church was built on land that the German Emperor Wilhelm II received from the Ottoman Sultan during his visit to the Holy Land in 1898 and was inaugurated in 1910. The Emperor decided to build a large-scale church here that would express the power of Germany, and indeed the building gives off the feeling of a fortress.
The church stands out due to its round shape, unlike most of the churches in Jerusalem, which are rectangular. The central building and the wings and towers surrounding it are round. The cone dome also has a unique shape among the churches in Jerusalem. Another unique feature of the church is the combination of motifs from the East and the West: a massive neo-Romanesque structure reminiscent of ancient cathedrals in Europe and white and red building stones typical of Mamluk architecture. The narrow alleys further enhance the size of the church, which is 34 meters high - as a 12-story building. According to Christian tradition, the church was built on the site where Mary, the mother of Jesus, fell into her death coma, hence its name, "The Dormition" - which means slumber.
The church's interior is impressive, and the floor is decorated with mosaics. At the entrance, a mosaic incorporates a Latin quote from a Psalm: "And the name of Zion will bless you" - a verse that refers to Mount Zion, where the church stands, and a mosaic that shows Noah's ark floating on the stormy waves. This is a typical image in Christianity, symbolizing the belief that only its followers will be saved from the flood at the end of time.
On the floor of the church hall is a large, rounded mosaic. The innermost circle consists of three circles written in Greek "Agios" - holy in Greek. The three circles symbolize the deity who sends tongues of fire to the four major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, who appear in the second circle. From there the gospel is sent to the twelve apostles (the twelve) and to the four writers of the gospels (the evangelists), whose names are indicated in the third circle and are also represented by paintings: the angel is Matthew, the eagle is John, the bull is Luke and the lion is Mark. The gospel reaches the whole world through them, represented by the zodiac.
The mosaic symbolizes the connection and continuity between the prophets of the Bible, the apostles, and the evangelists, the four heralds. In the apse, at the front of the church facing east, stands the central altar of the church, and above it, a magnificent mosaic showing the child Jesus in the arms of his mother Mary. Jesus is holding an open book written in Greek: "I am the light of the world." Below them stand the prophets who heralded the Messiah with their heads surrounded by halos. The alcoves around the hall are secondary altars donated by German Catholic communities.
It is also recommended to visit the underground hall - the crypt, in its center, is displayed a statue of Mary, in her last and eternal sleep. According to Christian tradition, Mary did not die like any other person. An eternal slumber fell upon her, and she was brought to heaven, where she reigns the universe alongside her son Jesus.
Above the recumbent statue is a mosaic of Jesus, and around it are figures of women from the Bible and the outer books: Ruth, Judith, Yael, Miriam, the sister of Moses, Eve, and Queen Esther. Like Mary, these are influential and powerful female figures.