What can you expect on your trip to the Holy Land, and what Israel Christian sites should you visit?
Traveling in Israel with the Scriptures in hand is like traveling back in time to the days of the Bible, but without having to sacrifice modern comforts...
Whether you are Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, get ready to be immersed in the Christian heritage and history of the Holy Land. It is incredible how so many places commemorating where Jesus walked, prayed and suffered have survived two thousand years of destruction and turmoil, and can continue to inspire us.
Use this guide and map to discover the ten essential Christian places to visit on your Holy Land journey.
A trip to the Holy Land is not complete without spending at least a day or two in the magical city of Jerusalem.
For many Christian visitors, walking the 14 stations along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem is the highlight of their visit.
The Way of Sorrow follows the route that Jesus followed in agony, from his conviction near today's Lions Gate and until his crucifixion in Golgotha, the site of today's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On the way, you will pass two important churches, Savior's Church and the Messianic Church.
The last 5 stations of the Way of Sorrow are located within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
It is considered by Christians to be the holiest place on earth. The Church encompasses:
The Church is a fascinating place to explore. It was destroyed over and over by the Romans, the Persians, the Muslims, by forces of nature and time; and it has always been rebuilt.
Jesus came to Jerusalem to meet his fate. You can follow his path on the night before his Crucifixion.
The Upper Room is considered the location of the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. The room is located above the Tomb of David near the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion.
Many believe that the last supper was actually a celebration of the Passover Seder.
From there, you descend to the bottom of Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane, and the adjoining Church of All Nations.
The Garden is where Jesus slept with his followers on the night before his crucifixion. Here he gave his last sermon. Here said to Peter: “Shall I not drink the cup the Father Has given me?” (John 18:11), and then gave himself up to the treasonous hands of Judas and the soldiers.
Bethlehem is home to the Church of the Nativity where Jesus was born, and one of the oldest churches in the world.
Visiting any time of the year is a meaningful experience.
If you are lucky enough to visit the Holy Land in late December, there is no better place on earth to celebrate Christmas in Israel than in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.
The atmosphere is absolutely electrifying. Joining Christmas midnight mass service at the Church of the Nativity is unforgettable. You can truly feel the miracle of Jesus' birth.
The actual site of the birth of Christ is in an underground grotto beneath the Church marked by a star set in the ground.
Note that Bethlehem is in the Palestinian Territories so bring your passport. There is no need to get out your car or bus and the border crossing is over before you know it, within minutes.
Travelling from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv north to the Galilee, you will pass today's fertile Jezreel Valley, which we know from scripture as the Valley of Armageddon.
Having witnessed seven thousand years of mankind's battles. it is no surprise that Armageddon valley is destined to be the place of the final battle and 2nd coming of Christ, according to Revelations.
Continuing along the footstep of Jesus, you can ascend Mount Tabor, also known as Transfiguration Mount.
As revealed, "Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” (Matthew 17:13).
Standing at the top of the mountain near the beautiful Transfiguration church, you will can catch a breathtaking view of Armageddon Valley, the city of Nazareth and the Galilee Mountains.
The place where it all started is in Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Annunciation Church of Nazareth is the largest church in the Middle East. It is built above the place where Mary lived.
The small underground grotto, known as the Basilica of the Anunciation, marks the spot where the angel Gabriel declared to Mary "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
There are a few other notable churches in Nazareth that are worth visiting: the Greek Orthodox Church of the Archangel Gabriel, the Greek Catholic “Synagogue Church” and the Church of St. Joseph.
Jesus left Nazareth and spent three years of his life in the area of the Sea of Galilee, living in the town of Capernaum.
You too can travel northeast from Nazareth to the small town of Capernaum. It's under an hour's drive along the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee.
Capernaum is often called the Town of Jesus.
It was at a local synagogue that he preached the Eucharistic discourse. “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:22-59). You can visit the remains of the synagogue where Jesus preached, as well as later synagogues, and a Byzantine village and the Church of the House of St. Peter.
Capernaum was the home town of many of the apostles including: Peter, James, Andrew, John and Matthew.
Tabgha is a few minutes drive from Capernaum.
For thousands of years, it was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee, thanks to warm water springs that attracted algae and fish.
Tabgha is most famous as the place where Jesus performed the miracle of the “multiplication of loaves and fish” (John 6:1-15).
There are many beautiful mosaics in Tabgha's churches, The most famous is the loaves and fish moasic.
Many believe Tabgha is where the 3rd resurrection appearance of Jesus took place when he transferred the church leadership to St. Peter.
A few minutes from Tabgha and Capernaum is the Mount of Beatitudes. From this place set high above the Sea of Galilee, you can see enjoy the breathtaking views, perhaps just as Jesus did!
The inpirational Sermon on the Mount took place here, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3).
Yardenit is the spot that commemorates where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.
It is located on the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee where the Jordan River flows southwards on its way to the Dead Sea. You can travel here from the northern Christian sites along the western coast of the Sea of Galilee passing the ancient city of Tiberias.
If you wish, you can be baptized here, purifying yourself in the cool and crystal clean waters of the Jordan River.
Besides the ten, most important Christian sites in Israel, there are so many more fascinating Biblical sites in the Holy Land to visit, if you have the time.
Qasr el Yahud where Jesus was baptized. The oldest city in the world, Jericho, where Jesus stopped to dine. Mount of Temptation, Carantal and its Greek Orthodox monastary. The Carmel Mountain range where Elijah the Prophet hid from the wrath of the idolators. The cities of Akko (Acre) and Caesarea with their ancient Christian heritage. St. Peters Church in lovely Old Jaffa from where newborn Christianity started spreading westwards... And more!
Learn more about five beautiful Christian sites in the Judean Hills. Visiting them can make a wonderful day trip.
You might also be interested in:
What to See in Israel
Ten Essential Israel Christian Sites