Theodor Herzl's Grave

Destinations in Jerusalem

Theodor Herzl’s Grave is one of the sites located on top of Mount Herzl. But who was Theodor Herzl? So he was the “Visionary of the State” who was the father of modern political Zionism. Furthermore, Herzl formed the Zionist Organization and promoted Jewish immigration to Palestine in an effort to form a Jewish state. Though he died before its establishment, he is known as the father of the State of Israel. The burial of Benjamin Zeev Herzl in Israel was held on Wednesday, August 17, 1949. Herzl’s coffin was brought to Israel from Austria on August 16, placed in the Knesset Square on the beach of Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem, and buried in a state ceremony at the top of Mount Herzl.

So Herzl died in the city of Vienna on July 3, 1904, at the age of 44. First, he was buried in the Herzl family’s grave estate in the Döbling Cemetery in Vienna. In his will, he ordered:

“I want to be buried in a metal coffin, in the tomb next to my father, to lie there until the Jewish people transfer my body to the Land of Israel.”

Theodor’s Herzl Official Will

Theodor Herzl’s Grave: Where Should Herzl Be Buried

A question that arose was where Herzl would be buried in Israel. Some claimed that Herzl wanted to be buried on Mount Carmel; according to what he mentioned in his book “Altneuland”. The joint committee examined, based on the sources concerning whether Herzl wanted an object at a particular burial site in the Land of Israel. Finally, they determined that he did not request to be buried at such a site. The committee decided that the place worthy of burial is in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. The summit of the mountain which was named Mount Herzl was chosen as the site of Theodor Herzl’s Grave.

The Arrival of the Coffin in Israel

On August 16, 1949, the plane carrying the coffin arrived off the coast of Israel. The plane and four fighter jets that took off to accompany it circled for several minutes in the skies of the city of Haifa. The city greeted them with respectful gunfire from naval ship cannons in the port and the sirens of the alarm horns and ship horns. From the roof of the town hall, twelve pigeons were sent. Afterward, the plane turned south and landed at 14:00 at Lod Airport.

Half an hour after landing, Herzl’s Coffin was taken off the plane and received at a military ceremony by a guard that included soldiers from the Land Forces, Air Force, and Navy. He was loaded onto a black-wrapped military vehicle accompanied by guard soldiers carrying drawn swords. Accompanied by motorcycles and a convoy of dozens of cars; the coffin traveled through Jabotinsky Street in Tel Aviv. Crowds watched from the side of the road on the coffin journey.

So the convoy made its way to Jerusalem on the route where Herzl traveled to the city during his visit to Israel in 1898: Mikveh Israel; Beit Dagan; Rishon Lezion; Ness Ziona; Gedera; Ma’ale Hahamisha and Motza. In addition, crowds of people holding flags and posters greeted the convoy; and it slowed down in the various localities to allow the audience there to walk beside the coffin. Then, the journey to Jerusalem continues until 08:30. In Jerusalem, the convoy traveled in front of a large crowd through Jaffa Street and King George Street to the building of the national institutions.

The Burial Ceremony

On Mount Herzl, the tomb of Herzl was excavated at the top of the mountain in time. A festive and ornate rectangular shed was erected above it. Opposite them stood 350 dignitaries, including state dignitaries, members of Zionist organizations, and heads of local authorities. 44 flagpoles were erected around it, to mark the number of years of Herzl’s life. Benches were placed around the rest of the funeral participants, numbering 6,000 people. Then a military guard from all the troops showed up at the burial site. After the arrival of the coffin, the burial ceremony began at 17:05.

Furthermore, the coffin was placed on a stage above the tomb. In addition, there was a choir that sang Psalms. Then the coffin was lowered into the pit using a crane. After two minutes of silence, representatives of settlements from all over the country approached the cistern, which lasted about 20 minutes; and brought with them cloth bags filled with dirt from the land of their settlements; and threw them into the cistern. Afterward, a Kaddish was recited and a prayer to a merciful God was said. After the choir sang the song “In Memory of Herzl” by Leibushetzky, the ceremony ended at 5:30 PM with the singing of the national anthem Hatikva. In accordance with Herzl’s will, no speeches were made at the funeral.


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history.

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