7 Must-Visit Christian Sites in Israel
Each and every year thousands of tourists embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Israel is the ultimate destination for anyone seeking a connection to the roots of their faith, as it is abundant with both Old and New Testament sites. Here is a list of the top significant Christian sites of Israel. We invite you to share your experiences if you already visited these sites during one of our Israel tours!
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is not only known for its significance in the New Testament, but it’s also Israel’s largest freshwater lake and primary source of drinking water. The famous lake is known according to the gospels as the place where Jesus would minister to the people of Israel and it is believed that Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount on a small hill on the north-western shore of the lake. He also walked over the waters of the lake, fed five thousand people and found a few of his disciples while they were working as fishermen.
The Sea of Galilee is a popular tourist site for those that would like to walk the paths that Jesus walked. You can also enjoy a St. Peter’s Fish meal, a beautiful sunset and see a boat from the times of Jesus discovered in 1986 and now displayed in the Yigal Alon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar. Sailing on the Sea of Galilee is without a doubt one of the most tranquil experiences one can have and provides a wonderful opportunity for reflection and prayer.
Yardenit is a popular site in the Jordan River believed to be the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Matthew 3 13: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.
Located to the south of the Sea of Galilee, the site receives around half a million tourists and pilgrims each year. Entry to the site is free and visitors can rent or purchase baptism robes. There is plenty of space to relax with friends and family, pray in the well-kept quiet areas or visit the gift shop. After your baptism, you will have access to showers.
Capernaum is an ancient fishing village located in the northern portion of the Sea of Galilee and known as the center of Jesus’ ministry and is often referred to as “the town of Jesus”. This special town is mentioned multiple times in the New Testament and, according to the Gospels, this is the place where Peter, Andrew, James and John also lived.
In this site you will find ruins that date back to the 1st and 6th century. You will also get to visit a church built on top of the traditional site of St. Peter’s house. This is where it is believed that Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law and performed miracles. Inside the house archeologists found Jesus’ name several times and 131 inscriptions in four languages that essentially prove the validity of the house.
Bring your Bible and enjoy the quiet areas around the site! Capernaum is one of those places in Israel that brings the scriptures to life.
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is located on the east side of Jerusalem and is also believed to be the place where Jesus ascended to heaven. While the Mount of Olives is mentioned 3 times in the Bible, it is Jesus’ third visit that we remember the most. It all started with the Last Supper in Jerusalem and ended in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives where Jesus was eventually arrested to face trial.
The olive trees that have grown in the area for thousands of years are located around the slopes of the Mount that surround the spot where Jesus prayed with his disciples before his crucifixion and where the Eastern Orthodox Church believes the Virgin Mary was buried and ascended into heaven.
The Via Dolorosa is a street within the Old City of Jerusalem believed to be the path that Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion. The trail includes 14 stations based on events that occurred on the way to the Golgotha hill, which was the site of the crucifixion and where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located.
Every Friday a procession organized by the Roman Catholics starts at the first station and sometimes reenact the events along the way to the 14 station.
Considered by some Christians to be where Jesus was buried and resurrected, the Garden Tomb is a spiritual site visited by thousands of tourists every year. The tomb is surrounded by beautiful gardens perfect for worship and reflection.
The site is open to the public from Monday to Saturday from 8:30am to 5:30pm, however reservations are suggested in advance. You will also find a small gift shop perfect for souvenirs!
Church of Holy Sepulchre
The Church of Holy Sepulchre, built in 325/326, is located at the end of the last four stations of the Via Dolorosa and is therefore one of the most visited Christian sites in the world. The church is the other site believed by many to contain the place where Jesus was crucified and also the location where he was buried and resurrected.
The complex structure is said to have 30 chapels and worship spaces. You can start your tour descending a flight of stairs covered with crosses left by thousands of pilgrims. The stairs lead you to where Queen Helene found the piece of the cross believed to be used to crucify Jesus.
Some Christians believe the Garden Tomb is where Jesus was buried and resurrected, however the significance of this church in understanding early Christianity is immense and worth exploring! The lines to tour the church can be long!