In the second story of a chapel atop Jerusalem’s Mount Zion — just outside the Zion Gate —is a place known as the Upper Room, Coenaculum, or Cenacle (meaning “dining room”). Originally, this would have been the eating room of a Roman house where the last meal of the day would be eaten. These rooms were typically on the second story and accessible by an external stairway.
While it has been renovated over the centuries, it is believed that the existing structure dates back to the 4th century and the Hagia Sion (Holy Zion) basilica, built on the location where two major events in Christianity are commemorated.
- First, it is believed to be the location of the Last Supper — Jesus’ final Passover meal with His disciples before His crucifixion (Mark 14:12-15).
- Secondly, it is also believed to be the site where the risen Jesus first appeared to His disciples (John 20:19-24) and the location of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts.1:13, 2:1).
Over the centuries this site has been controlled by many groups. The building has endured centuries of assaults and restorations. Christians were not allowed to visit the site for almost 400 years — from 1550 until 1948, when the State of Israel took possession of the property.
While the actual site of the Last Supper has never been verified, the location of the present room may possess some clues about its authenticity. Archaeological research suggests the site is built on top of a first-century church-synagogue. A single piece of plaster fragment bears what is interpreted to be the name of Jesus. This potentially could have been the site of the first Christian Church.
What to See
The Room of the Last Supper is rectangular, Gothic in style, with pillars and a vaulted ceiling. Visitors can also view the chamber room, which resembles a mosque, complete with stained glass Ottoman windows and Arabic inscriptions. Stairs located near the minaret lead up to the roof, which affords beautiful views of the Mount of Olives.
The Tomb of David is located in the building’s lower story. Unlike the location of the Last Supper, biblical texts specify that the actual Tomb of David is located in the City of David, overlooking the Kidron Valley (1 Kings 2:10, Nehemiah 3:14-16). However, the sarcophagus enshrined here has been considered the Tomb of David since the Crusades. From 1948 until Jerusalem was reunited in 1967 — and the Western Wall became accessible — the Tomb of David was considered the holiest Jewish site in Israel. So, while it is unlikely this site is the actual tomb of David, it is a sacred site for Jews and is currently maintained by the Diaspora Yeshiva.