On a visit to Palestine in 1898, the German Emperor Wilhelm II and his wife, Empress Auguste Victoria, agreed to build a hospice on the Mount of Olives to treat those suffering from malaria and those who came as pilgrims.
The Augusta Victoria Compound was named for the wife of German Emperor Wilhelm II, built between 1907 and 1916. The Church of the Ascension and the guest house were dedicated in 1910. Moreover, the church was used as the General Headquarters of the German – Turkish General Staff at the beginning of World War I.
During the British Mandate from 1917 to 1927, the High Commissioner and his officers used the building complex. Then ten years later, the Sisters of Kaiserswerth, originally called to be caretakers of the guest house, began to transform the guest house into a hospital. At the beginning of World War II, the British used the building as a military hospital.
In 1948, the responsibility for the Foundation complex was transferred to the Lutheran World Federation. A year later, the International Red Cross opened a hospital for Palestinian refugees after the Arab-Jewish war. The Lutheran World Federation joined forces with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to operate the hospital.
In 1996, the hospital became a clinic for cancer, ear, nose, and throat diseases.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension (Augusta Victoria)
Set within the Augusta Victoria complex in Jerusalem, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension is an Evangelical Center for pilgrims and tourists in the city. Built-in a Wilhelminian-Byzantine style, the church stands on one of the highest points in Jerusalem with a 200-step tower boasting breathtaking views. The western façade of the church is protected from heavy rain and strong winds by a massive wall.
The Augusta Victoria Hospital is based in the old main building of the complex next to the church. The pilgrim, meeting center; and Café Auguste are opposite the church. The German Protestant Institute for Archaeology (DEIAHL) lies east of the area and overlooks the Jordan valley.
Visiting the Church of the Ascension
Above all, the Church of the Ascension is a distinctive Jerusalem landmark. Moreover, the church features exquisite ceiling paintings and mosaics in the apse of the choir and the gallery designed by artists H. Schaper and F. Pfannschmidt. The mosaic in the lower level of the choir represents the coat of arms of the imperial family.
In addition, the masonry combines with the floor, whose Byzantine designs are also found in other parts of the city, to produce a harmonious impression highlighted by the light centering in warm colors through the windows’ gold glass and coat of arms.
German Protestant Archaeological Institute
The former gardener’s house, east of the church, houses the German Protestant Archaeological Institute, with an extensive library and a museum, which has been dedicated to research since the turn of the 19th century.
Café Auguste Victoria
Last, opposite the church, Café Auguste Victoria serves coffee, cakes, and light meals. The profits go to social projects in the Holy Land. The Evangelical Center for Pilgrims and Tourists on the Mount of Olives offers different activities in cooperation with the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City. For example, lectures, seminars, and concerts; assistance in organizing lectures and seminars with local speakers; facilities to worship for visiting groups (except on Sundays); religious services in En Bokek on the Dead Sea (in German only); and films and discussions.