Jerusalem is one of the most famous cities in the world, known to all races and religions, and highly revered by all Jews, Christians and Muslims. Spending your next vacation here means spending the next days or weeks of your life within and alongside some of the holiest and oldest religious landmarks in the world. But Jerusalem has more to offer than its intrinsic spirituality. It also boasts of natural treasures, hi-tech museums and modern facilities. One of the places you can visit that has nothing to do with religion but equally important is Mount Herzl.
Located to the west side of the city beside Jerusalem Forest, Mount Herzl is also known as Mount of Remembrance since it is the country’s national cemetery. The mountain was named after Theodor Herzl, considered the father of the State of Israel, whose remains are also buried in the mount. Other notable Jews that were buried here are former presidents Zalman Shazar and Chaim Herzog; former prime ministers Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Yitzhak Shamir; and former minister Eliezer Kaplan.
Theodor Herzl dreamed of an independent Israel. He died in 1904, several decades short before the realization of his dream. He was first buried in Vienna but was transferred to his beloved homeland 45 years later. Today, his remains are found within the plaza on the mountain after his own name. Also found on the mount is the Herzl museum.
Mount Herzl does not stand for death but for memory, hope and honor. There is more to the site than just a burial ground. The crowning glory here and partly why the place is called Mount of Remembrance is the Yad Vashem Memorial and the Holocaust History Museum. This place honors the memories of six million Jews who suffered from the hands of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. This could easily be one of the most poignant memorials ever constructed as it speaks about the survivors and victims of the most atrocious act ever committed to man. Museum guests almost always end up crying and full of pride and hope as they exit from the museum.
Architecturally, the Holocaust History Museum is quite stunning. The elongated prism-like museum literally cuts through Mount Herzl from one side and exits at the other side towards a panoramic view of the city below. The experience is surreal as museum guests are transported to the concentration camps and get to feel how the victims and survivors felt. The highlight is the Pages of Testimony, on which written are the names and biographical information of about 2,500,000 Jews who were persecuted and killed. Some pages have photos and letters. The museum hopes to gather 3,500,000 more in order to memorialize all who suffered from the Holocaust.
Other sites on the famous mountain are the Plaza, the National Civil Cemetery, National Military and Police Cemetery, and the nearby Mitspe Karem, an archeological park located in the Jerusalem Forest.
The fame of Mount Herzl was launched in 1950 when the first Israeli Independence Day celebration was held here. It was celebrated within the large and spacious Mount Herzl Plaza near the Herzl’s grave.