|Church of the Dormition, Top of Mt Zion|
|First Christian Church?|
|Looking Down Through Screen|
|Looking up from Inside|
The access to the Dome of the Rock was closed so I walked up a long path thinking it lead to the Jaffa Gate. At the top of the hill I realized I was on top of Mt Zion and walked behind the church of the Dormition looking for a way to the gate.
There is a grassy area lined with trees behind the church and I stopped to ask a lady sitting there for directions. She was a Christian teacher from America who has lived there for several years and she pointed out the structure pictured above. She stated that it was the ruins of the first Christian church in Jerusalem and contained a passage way that went underground and came out some distance away outside the walls of the old city. While now outside the city walls it is shown inside the walls on the Madaba mosaic map in Jordan which is reported to be the oldest map in the world made during the reign of Emperor Justinian. The city walls had been rebuilt in 1542 by Suleyman the Magnicent and his architects reportedly left it out by mistake.
Looking through the iron bars and heavy screening you could see steps going down. There was no indication on the structure as to what is was and the door was locked by a heavy padlock. On the backside however someone had pulled the screen away and cut one of the bars and bent it aside. It was a small space to squeeze through and when you are partway through you realize your hanging over a drop off. When I got to the bottom of the stairs there was a dark passage way but with no light I was unable to explore further and never had time to get back there.
None of the five maps I had showed this structure but someone had gone through a lot of work to preserve it.