The Christian Gems of Israel – Things to Do and See, Israel is the ultimate Christian travel destination; it was here that the events of the Bible unfolded. You can see Biblical locations; ancient churches and the scenery that formed a backdrop to Jesus’ life. Israel is not too big so you should be able to cover the top Christian sites and see some of the country’s other highlights in 7-10 days.
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The Christian Gems of Israel – Things to Do and See
The Best Way to See Israel’s Christian Highlights
Christian landmarks in Israel are concentrated in two areas of the country – Jerusalem and its surroundings plus the Galilee. If you split your time between these two areas, you can see the most important Christian sites without changing hotels too many times. Base yourself in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and from there making day trips to Jerusalem; Bethlehem; Jericho and the Dead Sea. Then move your base to the north and stay a few nights in the Galilee.
From here you can visit the Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee as well as Nazareth. While in northern Israel include a visit to the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa and perhaps Acre, Caesarea or the sea caves of Rosh HaNikra. You’ll need at least 3-6 days in and around Jerusalem and another 3-5 days in the north. If your time is limited in Israel Christian tour packages can help you cover the top sites in a short amount of time.
What Christian Sites to See in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is where Jesus spent the last week of his life and you can literally retrace His footsteps through the city visiting places you’ve read about in the Bible. Visit the Mount of Olives and see the Garden of Gethsemane and Church of All Nations where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest. Visit the Chapel of the Ascension where Jesus ascended to heaven; see where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer at Pater Noster and the Church of Dominus Flevit, the place where Jesus looked out across Jerusalem and wept as he foresaw its future destruction. At the foot of the mount, separating it from the Old City, is the Kidron Valley where you’ll find ancient Jewish tombs and the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. Christian tours may take you to al-Eizariya, a Palestinian Arab village on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of Olives which has been identified as the Biblical village of Bethany.
Within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem is the Via Dolorosa; the stone-paved route Jesus walked towards Calvary (Golgotha). Along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow) are markers indicating the Stations of the Cross where Jesus paused or faltered under the weight of the cross. The Via Dolorosa leads to one of the holiest Christian sites in the world, the Holy Sepulchre Church, a large, ornate 4th-century structure that was built around the site of the crucifixion and Jesus’ tomb. You’ll want to linger here discovering the different chapels and shrines. While in the Old City you can see other iconic landmarks like the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock. Just outside the Old City is Mt. Zion, home to King David’s Tomb and the Cenacle (Room of the Last Supper). Of course, Jerusalem has many other incredible places to visit if you have time like the picturesque village of Ein Karem, the traditional birthplace of John the Baptist and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.
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What Christian Sites to See in Bethlehem
Travel to Bethlehem and visit the Nativity Church which holds the Holy Grotto, site of the nativity. Stop by the adjacent Church of Saint Catherine and see the Chapel of the Milk Grotto of Our Lady, where the Holy family hid during the Massacre of the Innocent. Bethlehem is in the Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and you may feel more comfortable visiting with a guided tour. There are Israel Christian day tours that cover Jerusalem and Bethlehem in one day. Some day tours to Bethlehem include a visit to the Biblical city of Jericho which is not far from the Dead Sea. If you have enough time you could also visit Mt. Temptation, just outside Jericho where Satan tried to tempt Jesus.
What Christian Sites to See in Nazareth
As you travel north from central Israel you’ll pass through the Jezreel Valley, referred to in scriptures as the Valley of Armageddon. Here you’ll find Mount Tabor or Transfiguration Mountain where the transfiguration of Jesus took place. There is a picturesque church on the mount and magnificent views across the lush valley. Visit Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood hometown; a city with Middle Eastern charm, a fascinating history and some beautiful churches. Visit the Church of Annunciation which marks the site where Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel and told of her future son. One of the most interesting features of this church is the artwork from around the world depicting Mary and baby Jesus as they are seen by other cultures. Greek Orthodox Christians may prefer to visit the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation adjacent to Mary’s Well in Nazareth. Another must-see Christian site in Nazareth is the Church of Saint Joseph. Beneath this church are ancient grottos believed to have once been Joseph’s carpentry and the home of the Holy Family.
What Christian Sites to See in the Galilee
From Nazareth travel to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Take a boat trip out onto the water where Jesus went fishing with his disciples. You can spend a few days exploring the many Biblical sites with names that are familiar to Christians like Capernaum, where you can see the excavated “House of Peter” and the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount. Also, stop in Tabgha to see where the multiplication of loaves and fish took place and in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. Visit the large city of Tiberias and see a 1st-century fishing boat (the Jesus Boat) at the Yigal Alon Center. One of the highlights of any Christian trip to northern Israel is Yardenit, a site on the Jordan River where it is possible to be baptized.
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