Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What History Lies behind the Facade of the Mt. Zion Hotel in Jerusalem?

The Mt Zion Hotel in Jerusalem today (photo: Ron Peled)
The Mt. Zion Hotel is situated on the historic Hebron Road not far from Jerusalem's Old City walls.  The beautiful boutique hotel overlooks the Biblical Hinnom Valley.

One hundred years ago, the beds in the building were of a different sort -- hospital beds in the St. John Eye Hospital, part of the
"Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem."  They established the Jerusalem opthalmic hospital in 1882. 

The hotel today, view from Old City
Wall. Tower behind the building is St.
Andrew's Church, built in 1930
"British Opthalmic Hospital" in 1918, after World War I
With the outbreak of World War I, the Turkish authorities used the building as a warehouse for explosives -- with a predictably tragic result. 

The shattered St John's hospital after explosion (1918). View more
pictures of the destruction here and here.  Notice the
Montefiore windmill in the background on the right
According to the British Military Governor in Palestine, Ronald Storrs, "the Turks had used it for an ammunition-dump and blown it up on the eve of their retreat [in December 1917]. Nothing seemed to happen as quick as one wanted, for it took the best part of a week to clear it of exploded and unexploded cartridges and to summon the expert advice of MacCallan from Cairo; and some months before the hospital could be rebuilt by the Order."
British General Allenby visiting the hospital (circa 1918) and here. He is entering what is the area of the main entrance to the hotel today

The hospital's Hebron Road entrance

In 1948, the hospital found itself on the front line between Israel and Jordan and relocated to the Old City.

The complex was renovated and converted to the Mt. Zion Hotel in 1986.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Click on the captions to see the originals.



  1. The architecture styled is over centuries old. It is like a trip to time. I hope the rates are anything like the budget hotels near hyde park rates, so I can make for a lengthy stay.

  2. Truly amazing. These kinds of places should get a visit more often, aside from the common beaches that we used to go to during vacations. We get to learn about the place's history, the stories behind the buildings and monuments. Hopefully countries like Israel manage to use them as factors that develop their tourism.