Mount Herzl is the resting place of some of world Jewry’s most beloved figures, from Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir to Theodor Herzl himself, the man for whom the site was named.
Herzl spent a sizable portion of his life dreaming of a Jewish state, and working to convince others that such a dream was possible. He never lived to see his vision realized, but he wrote a year before his death that he hoped his final resting place might one day reside in the home of the Jewish people.
“I wish to be buried in a metal coffin next to my father, and to remain there until the Jewish people will transfer my remains to Eretz Israel.”
Herzl died in 1904, more than four decades before an independent Israel was established. In 1951, when the Israeli government set out to construct a national cemetery, one of the first undertakings was to complete Herzl’s last wishes and transfer his remains—along with those of his father and children—to the Jewish state.
Mount Herzl is located in Jerusalem, with Herzl’s tomb located on the top of a sunny hill. It’s become a sort of pilgrimage site for Jewish travelers of all nationalities, who honor the father of modern Zionism with piles of rocks placed on his grave.
The site is also used for various commemoration ceremonies throughout the year, particularly on Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s equivalent of a Veteran’s Day. The mount includes Israel’s national military cemetery, a garden tribute to missing soldiers, and memorial for victims of terror.
In March 2013, when President Barack Obama made his famous visit to the Jewish state, Mount Herzl was one of the most publicized stops on his itinerary.
Israel is currently working on a NIS 40 million national memorial to be built on Mount Herzl, intended to honor the over 22,000 soldiers and security personnel that have fallen in the line of duty since 1860. The memorial is set to open in 2015, and will include individual names alongside a candle for each victim.