Nestled in the lush and forested mountains of Judea, Ein Karem is a picturesque village west of Jerusalem. It is renowned for its historical and religious significance and particularly as the birthplace of John the Baptist.
History of Ein Karem
Ein Karem was inhabited already in the 6th millennia BC but is scarcely mentioned in ancient texts nor the bible. Some scholars suggest identifying it with “Beth Hakerem” referenced in Jeremiah (6:1) and Nehemiah (3:14), but it’s mostly known as the hometown of John the Baptist.
Ein Karem and Christianity
Ein Karem is traditionally associated with the birthplace of John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke portrays Zachariah and Elizabeth as an elderly and childless couple residing in “a town in the hill country of Judea” (Luke 1:39). Following an angelic visit Elizabeth conceives and give birth to a child who they name Yochanan (John). Since the 6th Century his birthplace is identified at Ein Karem.
During the Byzantine period Ein-Karem developed as a Christian pilgrimage destination, and commemoration churches were adorned the village. Following the Muslim conquests these churches were destroyed but later restored. Today several churches grace Ein-Karem’s Landscape, notably –
Church of John Baharim – Ein Karems’ main church, said to be built where John the Baptist was born and raised. A crypt under the church marks John’s birthplace.
Church of the Visitation – A church on an opposite hill that commemorates Mary’ meeting with her cousin Elizabeth.
Moscubia – A Russian convent whose construction began in 1905 and it was completed only in 2005.
Touring Ein Karem
Easily accessible from Jerusalem and adjacent to Yad Vashem, Ein Karem welcomes visitors year-round. Aside its churches, various restaurants and cafes offer diverse culinary experiences. Its winding alleys among stone-built houses make Ein Karem a compelling destination for both pilgrims and tourists seeking spiritual and historical enrichment.
A tour of Ein Karem can be combined with a day tour of Jerusalem.