Days out in Jerusalem

Emek HaMatzleva

Emek HaMatzleva or “Valley of the Cross” is a valley located on the west of Jerusalem. is where the wood was (according to tradition) chopped to form the cross. Presumably in Roman times, this was in the “wilds” outside town. A Greek Orthodox monastery marks the spot.

Today, however, it is a pleasant area in the inner suburbs effectively forming a border for the prestigious Rehavia neighborhood; and is part of the green area around the Israel Museum and Knesset.

old brown building surrounded by trees
Monastery of the Cross (Minzar HaMatzleva)

Monastery of the Cross (“Minzar HaMatzleva”)

The Valley of the Cross is named after the Monastery of the Cross, an Eastern Orthodox monastery located right in the valley. It is believed that site of the monastery was originally consecrated in the 4th century A.D. under Emperor Constantine the Great’s instruction. He later handed the site over to King Mirian II of Iberia following the conversion of his kingdom to Christianity.

The Monastery was built in the 11th century under King Bagrat IV, the king of Georgia, by the Georgian-Prokhore of Shavsheti. 

Around Emek HaMatzleva (Valley of the Cross)

The hill of Givat Ram (a neighborhood in central Jerusalem) is located on the west side of the valley, while on its east side is Rehavia, an upscale neighborhood located between the city center and Talbiya. The Israel Museum and the Knesset building overlook the valley. Emek HaMatzelva is only about two minutes away from the wilderness of Gazelle Valley.

red flower
Spring in Emek HaMatzleva

Getting to and around Emek HaMatzleva (Valley of the Cross)

The main path through the Valley is around 800 meters long – with no vehicular access for most of the length. It runs from the Greek monastery to Gan Sacher (connecting under the road). Up on the top of the hill is the Israel Museum (and Bible Lands Museum) and the Knesset.

The slopes of the valley are suitable for wandering, with easy to walk paths, olive trees and flowers. A couple of years ago, there was a deer that escaped from somewhere and made its home here for a couple of weeks.

From October to November you will see individuals and groups harvesting the olive trees in the traditional manner of carpet/sheet on the ground and banging the branches to persuade the olives to fall off.

The valley is incredibly popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists and people who just want to get out, even though they are still really in the city center. The monastery is open most days for visits.

Emek HaMatzleva is easily combined with a visit to the museums or to Gan Sacher (see Jerusalem Playgrounds).

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