Mt. Herzl is named after Binyamin Ze'ev (Theodore) Herzl, visionary of the Jewish State. It is a site of major national importance for Israel and the Jewish people. It is here that Herzl is buried along with Israel's presidents, prime ministers, speakers of Knesset, leaders of the Zionist Movement, members of Herzl's family, and other dignitaries decided upon by the government. It is also the site of the annual official state ceremony marking the conclusion of Memorial Day for Israel's fallen and the commencement of Israel's Independence Day festivities.
Along the northern slopes of Mount Herzl, stretches Jerusalem's Military Cemetery. On its western face, sits the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Together, these three sites give expression the major and tumultuous events that led to the establishment of the State of Israel just half a century after Herzl himself first envisioned it.
Binyamin Ze'ev (Theodor) Herzl was born in 1860. In the year 1886 he published his book The Jewish State in which he presented his vision for the establishment of an independent state for the Jewish people. A year later, in 1897, he convened the First Zionist Congress, at which the World Zionist Organization was founded and the Basel Program - the political platform for the revival of the Jewish people in a state of their own in the Land of Israel - was adopted.
Herzl died in 1904 at the age of 44 and was buried in Vienna. In his will he requested to be interred, along with the members of his family, in the Land of Israel following the establishment of a Jewish state. On August 17, 1949, his last wishes were honored as his coffin was laid to rest ceremoniously on Mount Herzl. Each year since then, an official state ceremony in his memory is held on the anniversary of his death, the 20th of Tamuz.
Herzl's tomb lies on the crest of the mountain range overlooking the Judean hills on one side, and both old and new Jerusalem on the other. The tombstone itself is constructed of black marble with only the four Hebrew letters of Herzl's name engraved on it.
At the entrance to the site stands the Herzl Museum, housing a rare collection of photographs, documents, and diary entries, as well as the original handwritten manuscripts of his books Altneuland and The Jewish State. A central exhibit in the museum is the reconstruction of Herzl's Vienna study, with much of its furnishings and original objects intact.
The Museum is temporarily closed in order to permit a major renovation , which will include the introduction of interactive multimedia and advanced technology. It is scheduled to reopen in December 2004, marking the occasion of 100 years since Herzl's death.
The World Zionist Organization is the authority vested with the official responsibility for developing and maintaining this site.