What makes a place holy or special?
- Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem – Built over the site where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was born. This is the oldest complete church in the Christian world. Bethlehem is also believed to be the birthplace and hometown of King David, as well as the traditional site of Rachel’s Tomb.
- Garden of Gethsemane, Outskirts of Jerusalem – Located near the foot of the Mount of Olives, this garden is named in the New Testament as the place where Jesus went with his disciples to pray the night before he was crucified (Matthew 26:30-56). Beside the garden is the Church of All Nations, built over the rock on which Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony before he was betrayed by Judas and arrested.
- Via Dolorosa, Old City of Jerusalem – Every Friday afternoon hundreds of Christians join in a procession stopping at 14 Stations of the Cross, as they identify with the suffering of Jesus on his way to crucifixion. The route is called the Via Dolorosa (“Way of Sorrows”).
- Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Old City of Jerusalem – Many Christians believe this is where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. Within the Church compound, one can visit various sacred sites, including the Stone of the Anointing, the Rock of Golgotha, and the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene. The Church also holds some of the most renown Crusader-period art from the 12th century.
- Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth – Here, it is believed, the archangel Gabriel told the young Mary that she would become the mother of the Son of God, and Mary consented, stating, “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
- Qasr el Yahud (“Castle of the Jews”) – Located on the banks of the Jordan River not far from Jericho, this is, according to Matthew 3:13-17, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
- Capernaum, Galilee – A lakeside village beside the Sea of Galilee, this became Jesus’ home and the scene of many of his miracles in the Gospels. It was also the home of the first disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew.
- Mount of Beatitudes, Galilee – This beautiful hilltop overlooking the Sea of Galilee is believed to be the setting for Jesus’ most famous address, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:28). It is also understood to be the place where Jesus met his apostles after his resurrection.
- The Jesus Trail, Nazareth to the Mount of Beatitudes – A 65 km (40 mile) pilgrimage route connecting many sites from the life and ministry of Jesus.
- Mount of Olives (Mount Olivet) – A major site of pilgrimage for Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants where several key events of the life of Jesus took place including the Acts of the Apostles and where Jesus rose to heaven. This mountain ridge is east of Jerusalem’s old city and was once covered in olive groves.
Hiring a guide is a wonderful way to tour Israel. Here is a list of resources: