Going Inside Jerusalem's Underground City of the Dead


In Jerusalem's biggest burial ground the expired have a need that the living can't satisfy: more space.
Artist's rendering of the completed underground cemetery, showing graves on the floor and in the wall
Artist's rendering of the completed underground cemetery, showing graves on the floor and in the wall

The Givat Shaul graveyard, which sprawls over a ridge on the northwestern edge of the city, contains more than 200,000 internment spots, and about each one is full, set apart with a cut tombstone and decorated with blooms and remembrance candles.


Internment spots cover almost every section of land of the burial ground, isolated just by access streets and walkways. The graves frame a conveniently composed example over the whole range.

Terracing the graveyard was the main approach to make more space, with three-story structures drastically expanding the accessible range. In any case, even those spots are about full, since interest for entombment in Jerusalem is so high.

Jewish prediction says the dead will ascend from their graves after the happening to the Messiah, and those nearest to Jerusalem will be restored first.

"Your dead will live; their cadavers will rise. You who lie in the dust, alert and yell for happiness, for your dew is as the dew of the day break, and the earth will bring forth the withdrew spirits," peruses Isaiah 26:19.

Underground burial ground

The arrangement is to dive deep - and not only six feet under.

Underneath the Givat Shaul burial ground, inside the center of the mountain known as the Mount of the Resting, burrowing groups are boring out broad sinkholes extending 150 feet (45 meters) underground. The final product will be an enormous underground graveyard with space for 22,000 entombment spots.
 This vertical shaft will be the center of the underground cemetery
This vertical shaft will be the center of the underground cemetery

It's an underground city of graves.

"My companions call it the shopping center since it would seem that a shopping center in the (artist's) delineations and it will be secured with pleasant rock - however yes, it's an internment spot," said Arik Glazer, General Manager of Rolzur Tunneling.

Individuals have been covered in underground caves for a considerable length of time.

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The Catacombs in Paris and Rome are yet two case of these internments. The distinction with the new Jerusalem complex is the size of the undertaking, which will cost more than $50 million and highlight very nearly twelve passages, every brimming with internment spaces.

"The special thing is that these graves will be the most like the graves that were in scriptural times, which means the bodies were really put on the stone, on the stone itself," said Glazer.

In scriptural times, tombs were cut specifically into the stone and the dead were laid on regular stone stages. Such tombs are specified in the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Judges among different spots. Abraham, Isaac, and the scriptural patriarchs and female authorities were covered underground in the Cave of the Patriarchs, as indicated by the Book of Genesis - otherwise called the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Tunneling teams work in a section of the underground cemetery that has already been cleared out
Tunneling teams work in a section of the underground cemetery that has already been cleared out

Hundreds of years old practice restored

In any case, today such internments are uncommon, supplanted by caskets or simulated solid entombment places. Numerous keep away from entombment inside and out, settling on incineration.

The underground graveyard will bring back the hundreds of years old technique for internment, Glazer said. "We are recovering an antiquated convention and utilizing some cutting edge advancements."

The task, which began a year ago, will take no less than five more years to finish. Be that as it may, the principal entombments will occur in late-2017, Shachor said, when the main sections are finished.

Inquired as to whether individuals may have a mental issue being covered underground, Shachor said he trusts cynics will beat their questions.
The long corridors resemble a gallery ...
The long corridors resemble a gallery ...

"The most essential thing is that it's as per the Jewish custom. Everyone will be covered in the ground, and this fits the Jewish convention ... there won't be any issues."

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In any case, Shachor realizes that this underground site is an impermanent answer for an unceasing issue.

"I need to discover an answer for the following 20, 30 years, and the general population who will have my spot will need to discover an answer for a more drawn out time."