Jerusalem stopped burying its dead in cemeteries years ago, opting instead for mausoleums or two-level graves

IN PHOTOS: World's Largest Modern Underground Cemetery Inaugurated in Jerusalem

The Minharot Olam (Perpetual Tunnels) project, which consists of a number of mile-long tunnels with at a total of 24,000 gravesites, is to be the primary burial ground in the capital



A new massive underground burial ground was dedicated on Thursday at Jerusalem's Har Menuhot cemetery consisting of a number of tunnels that are 1.6 kilometers long (about one mile) and 16 meters (52 feet) high. The tunnels have a total of 24,000 gravesites.

Sources at the Kehilat Yerushalayim burial society, which has created the project, said that as of November, about 70 percent of all burials in Jerusalem will be carried out there.

The work on the underground cemetery, which is called Minharot Olam, which can be translated as "perpetual tunnels," began in 2012, prompted by the serious shortage of burial space at Har Hamenuchot, the city's largest cemetery.  For many years, burials in Jerusalem have been in mausoleums or two-level graves as a result of the lack of cemetery space.

At the center of the burial site is a massive 16-story shaft excavated into a hillside at the cemetery on Jerusalem's western edge. The shaft provides the main entrance for mourners visiting the site. Inside the burial tunnels themselves, visitors will be able to either go on foot or on electric vehicles that will be made available. The locations of the graves themselves will be shown on a cell phone app to make it easier for families to find them.

The Minharot Olam project is thought to have cost about 300 million shekels ($85 million).

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