Top 5 Christian Sites to visit in Israel
Christian sites in Israel are some of the most popular tour destinations in the Holy Land – and for a good reason. Such holy sites illustrate the New Testament so vividly, and make the word come to life. From Nazareth in the Galilee to the Baptism site near Jericho, and from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Israel bears many holy sites so dear to Christian faith that are of both of spiritual and historical value. Below are the top 5 Holy Christian sites in the Holy Land, a MUST for any Christian visiting Israel.
Nestling in the heart to the Galilee, Nazareth was a small village some 2,000 years ago. Yet venerated as the hometown of Jesus since the 4th century, Nazareth developed into the biggest Arab city in the Galilee. Today it attracts thousands of Christian pilgrims, on daily basis, especially to the Church of the annunciation. Here, by local tradition, the angel appeared to Mary and announced on her immaculate conception (Luke 1:26-38). Nearby, the Church of Saint Joseph is said to be where Jesus grew up. In Nazareth’s old city the Synagogue-Church marks where Jesus appeared after his baptism, yet rejected, and relocates to Capernaum (Luke 4).
Living in the wilderness and calling for redemption, John the Baptist operated on the turn of the first century in high anticipation for the Messiah. By centuries old tradition the main site of his baptismal activity is along the Jordan river east of Jericho. Archaeological excavations yielded at the site evidence of Christian veneration from the 4th centuries an one. Today, Christian pilgrims reaching the western bank of the Jordan river when touring Israel can conduct baptismal ceremonies at the same site where Jesus was baptized. It is said to be also where the Israelites crossed with the Ark to enter the Promised Land.
Set along the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum was a small fishing village in Roman times. Yet, after rejected in his hometown, Nazareth, Jesus settled in Capernaum. He lived in the village at least 3 years, and here he laid the foundations of Christian faith. Venerated since the 4th century, Capernaum became a significant Christian pilgrimage destination. The site is maintained by the Franciscans, who also conducted excavations at parts of the site. Of special interest is the church built over the house of Peter, and nearby, the grandest synagogue ever found in Israel from the Byzantine period.
Stations of the Cross (Via Dolorosa)
Set along the myriad of allies in Jerusalem’s Old City, the “Stations of the Cross” (Latin: Via Dolorosa) is by local Christian tradition the path Jesus took from the place of his trial (the Praetorium) to the site of his crucifixion (Golgotha). Marked by 14 holy “stations”, the “Stations of the Cross” is mostly popular among Catholic groups. Some even carrying a big wooden cross as they walk, chant and cry, reflecting the path Jesus took to the site of his execution. The path begins north of the Temple Mount and ends at the Holy Sepulchre.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Hidden in the heart of the Jerusalem’s old City Christin Quarter, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is venerated by millions of Christians from all around the globe. The church complex combines building phases from different periods, reflecting well its long and turbulent history. Maintained today by six different Christian denominations, its focal points are the Hill of the crucifixion (the Golgotha) and the site of Jesus’ resurrection (The Tomb of Jesus). A visit to the tomb may require patience as the cue can be an hour long or even more, but a visit to this site is the culmination to any Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land.