A short account of the Cenacle (Room of the Last Supper), given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide
The traditional place of The Last Supper is outside of the current walls of Jerusalem in an area called Mt. Zion. This area was a part of the city during the time of Jesus. To get to the site, you have to leave the walls through the Zion Gate located near the Jewish Quarter.
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Who says that this is the location?
The room that is called the Cenacle today cannot be the room from Jesus’ time, for two reasons. First, Jerusalem of his time was destroyed and is buried deep in the ground. Second, this room was built in the European Gothic style of the 13th century. Add to it the fact that the Syrian-Orthodox claim that the real room lies under their church (in the old city next to the Jewish Quarter) and you have a total confusion.
The tradition of designating this location as the Cenacle probably started during the Byzantine period, with the building of the large Church of Mt. Zion on this site. It was replaced by a 12th century Crusader basilica that maintained this tradition of the place of the Cenacle. In the 14th century, after the Crusades, the Catholic Franciscan Order took over the site, restored it and maintained it until the 16th century. At that point, the Muslims drove the Catholics out, along with the Jews, who kept the first floor as King David’s burial place (who is, as the Book of Kings says, buried in the City of David). Neither group was allowed to visit the place again, as it was turned into a mosque. This situation lasted until the State of Israel took over the building in 1948, and opened it to all.
What can we see in the building?
- The beautiful room serving as The Last Supper, or Upper Room. See the magnificent arches and unique capitals of columns. We can also see the lovely courtyard.
- Go down to the first floor, and see what Jewish tradition defines as King David’s Tomb. It is currently used for prayer and learning.
- Visit the nearby German Dormition Church, which maintains the tradition of the Virgin Mary falling asleep before being assumed by her son.
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