Holy sites in Jerusalem and Near

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Located in the Christian quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem, about 70 km west of Tel Aviv, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (also known as the Church of the Resurrection of Christ) includes two of the most holy places for Christianity: the place of the crucifixion of Jesus (Golgotha, in Greek or Calvaria, on Latin), as well as a tomb, where, according to faith, Jesus was buried and then resurrected.

Also, the last four stages of Jesus’ journey through the streets of Jerusalem, carrying the cross until its crucifixion (the Way of the Cross) took place in the temple.

The first temple known to historians in this place was built by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great in 325 CE.

Over the centuries, the place has developed and transformed into a stunning complex, which we see now.

The temple is run by several Christian denominations thanks to a series of agreements and conventions that were concluded more than 160 years ago.

Every day, an impressive and exciting procession takes place in the temple, beginning and ending at the chapel of the Holy Gifts. She goes through 14 standing, which is a recollection of episodes of the Way of the Cross of Jesus Christ, in which ministers read aloud or sing a hymn.

The following is a list of 14 stages of the Cross:

  • I: The Lord Jesus is condemned to death (chapel of the Holy Gifts)
  • II: Jesus takes the cross on his shoulders (“Pillar of the Flagellation of Christ”)
  • III: Jesus falls for the first time (Prison of Jesus Christ)
  • IV: Jesus Meets His Mother on the Way to Calvary
  • V: Simon of Cyrene Helps Christ Carry the Cross
  • VI: St. Veronica wipes the face of the Lord Jesus
  • VII: Jesus falls a second time
  • VIII: Jesus Christ addresses the women of Jerusalem.
  • IX: Jesus falls the third time.
  • X: Jesus Christ is exposed.
  • XI: Jesus is nailed to the cross.
  • XII: Jesus is dying on the cross.
  • XIII: Jesus is removed from the cross.
  • XIV: The burial of Jesus Christ.

Jerusalem also has many other places of Christianity holy. The following are some of the most noteworthy:

  1. Viffagia
  2. Church of St. John the Baptist
  3. Temple of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives
  4. Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  5. Via Dolorosa (path of sorrow)


The oasis city of Jericho, located 100 km from Tel Aviv, 35 km from Jerusalem and 258 m below sea level, is located in the territory administered by the Palestinian National Authority.

Located near the Jordan River and rich in freshwater springs, the city is known for its fertile land and date palm trees.

The city is considered one of the oldest in the world, with a history dating back more than 10,000 years ago, from 8,000 BC. It is repeatedly mentioned in the Old and New Testaments.

One of the main sources of income for the city is Christian tourism, thanks to some of the most important places for Christianity in the city itself and its environs.

Among them are:

  • Mount of Temptation (Karanthal), on which the Greek Orthodox monastery is located (360 m above sea level). The mountain of Temptation is traditionally revered as a place where, according to legend, the devil tempted Christ the Savior during the forty-day fast.
  • The source of the prophet Elisha, where the prophet Elisha, according to legend, cleansed the source by throwing salt into it.
  • The plane tree of Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10).
  • The traditional place of Christ’s baptism in Qasr al-Yahud on the banks of the Jordan River.
  • Monastery of Gerasim of Jordan
  • Monastery of St. George

Chapel of the Flagellation of Christ and Church of Condemnation and the Exaltation of the Cross

100 km from Tel Aviv, in the Old City of Jerusalem, we can visit the chapel of the flagellation of Christ. It is located on the territory adjacent to the Franciscan monastery, and in it there are two places related to the death of Christ.

The chapel of the flagellation, where Jesus was subjected to flagellation by the Roman legionnaires, and the Church of the Condemnation and the Lay of the Cross, where he was sentenced to be crucified by Pontius Pilate, after having thrown a red cloak on Jesus and planted a thorny thorn on his head, laid a cross on Him and he set off on his last journey of Suffering on the road to the Atonement.

The flagellation chapel was built in 1929. Interior design includes a domed ceiling, a thorny blackthorn branch and chapel windows around the main altar, depicting the robbers who witnessed the execution of Jesus.

The Church of Condemnation and the Offering of the Cross was originally built during the reign of the Byzantine Empire. Then, when Jerusalem was ruled by Muslims, it turned into a monastery.

By the beginning of the 20th century, it was again consecrated as a church and completely renovated in 1904.

Today, this beautiful chapel has five brilliant white domes, each of which is based on a series of breathtaking stained glass windows and many delightful papier-mâché figures embodying the Passion of Christ.

Bethlehem – a field of shepherds and a grotto

When the Lord announced the arrival of Jesus Christ, he did not turn to people from the upper class, but to simple shepherds (one of the least favorable crafts of that era), leading their herds through the fields and caves in the vicinity of the town known as Beit Sahur, a suburb Bethlehem (Luke 2: 8-10).

Today, this place (about 80 km from Tel Aviv and 30 km from Jerusalem) is part of the territory administered by the Palestinian National Authority, but is still visited by many Christian tourists and pilgrims.

As for the other holy places, there are two places in Bethlehem (at a distance of only 600 m from each other), known for the fact that according to legend, it was in them that the arrival of Jesus was announced.

In both places, one under the supervision of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the second under the supervision of the Franciscans, there were churches and monasteries from the 4th century AD.

The Franciscan monastery has a chapel, the design of which resembles a shepherd’s tent.

On the site under the supervision of the Greek Orthodox Church, there is a 5th-century church built above a cave, which has been used as a worship center since 325 CE. when St. Helena founded the first church here.

Church of the Nativity

The Temple of the Nativity is revered as the birthplace of Jesus. It is associated with a cave over which the first church, recognized as one of the holiest Christian places, was built and consecrated by St. Helena in 339 CE.

Over the centuries, the Temple of the Nativity has been subjected to many changes by various rulers. However, all of them, in one way or another, recognized the sanctity of this place and refrained from destroying the churches built there.

Despite this, what the human hand didn’t rise to do was completely natural, when in 1834 an earthquake, and in 1869 and 2014, fires destroyed most of the interior of the church of the 6th century CE, but the building itself remained unscathed.

Since 1852, the Roman Catholic, Armenian, Syrian and Greek Orthodox churches have successfully jointly supervised this place, despite the fact that each of them is responsible for other parts of the complex.

An interesting fact can be noted here: the exact birthplace of Jesus Christ is marked by a silver star embedded in the grotto of the Temple of the Nativity of Christ.

This original star was stolen in 1847, as a result of disagreements with the rulers of the Ottoman Empire over the access of Christians to the holy places that led to the Crimean War (1854-1856).

Bethlehem is located near Jerusalem and provides everyone with the opportunity to visit many Christian places.

Since it is not possible to list them all because of the large number, the following are some of them:

  • Church of the Holy Sepulcher
  • Church of St. John the Baptist
  • Temple of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives
  • Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Via Dolorosa (path of sorrow)


The Church of Wythagia marks the place which, according to legend, is the starting point of the triumphal entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, which today we celebrate as the day of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem (Matthew 21: 1-11).

The Franciscan church celebrating this event is located in Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of Mount of Olives, near Bethany, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (Gospel of John 11: 1-44).

That’s where the annual traditional ceremonies commemorating the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem begin.

Inside the church, above the altar, we find an amazing mural depicting Jesus riding a donkey on horseback into Jerusalem, where the people meet him.

In the church you will also see a huge stone fenced with cast iron railing. The crusaders considered him a stone used by Jesus to sit on a donkey.

However, some scholars and historians are skeptical of this argument, since the height of the stone is more consistent with the war horses of the crusaders than a humble donkey.

The faces of the stone are decorated with medieval paintings depicting adherents, a crowd with palm branches and the resurrection of Lazarus, whose greatness was given to them again in 1950.

Bethlehem is located near Jerusalem and provides everyone with the opportunity to visit many Christian places.

Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Ein Kerem, Jerusalem

66 km from Tel Aviv and just 7 km from the Old City of Jerusalem, is the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the picturesque Ein Kerem area.

The church connects us with the gospel episode of the visit of the Virgin Mary to her relative Elizabeth (Luke 1:56). Both women had babies in their womb, Jesus with Mary and John the Baptist with Elizabeth (John was born in Ein Kerem).

According to tradition, the unborn John identified the unborn Jesus and leaped joyfully in the womb (Luke 1:44).

After this miraculous event, the Virgin Mary erected a praise to the Lord – better known as the Magnificat.

The church we are familiar with today was completed in 1955 and built on the restored ruins of a lower church, which was built in 1862 on the site of the Byzantine church of the Crusaders above the grotto, where once there was a small source.

The interior of the upper church is generously decorated with many murals and frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and her gradual becoming a central figure in the Christian faith.

The lower church contains murals depicting other women mentioned in the Bible thanks to their hymns.

One of the walls in the courtyard of the church is equipped with ceramic tiles with the word “Magnificat” in 42 different languages.

Church of John the Baptist – Ein Kerem, Jerusalem

The church complex is located above the grotto, revered as the birthplace of John the Baptist, referred to as the “Forerunner”, because it was he who baptized Jesus and proclaimed him as the Messiah.

Like many other holy places, the church has a rich history of construction and destruction.

The first church was built here during the reign of the Byzantine Empire around 500 CE. Here are the ruins of two chapels (Martyrs chapel and another chapel under the south side of the monastery). Both were destroyed during the Samaritan uprisings in 529 and 556 A.D.

Members of the Night Order of the Hospitallers re-built the chapel in 1104, naming it after John the Baptist, when the crusaders conquered Jerusalem.

However, the building was destroyed in the 12th century AD and only its ruins remained until the end of the Ottoman rule.

During the Turkish (Ottoman) rule, Franciscan monks (from around 1670) began to acquire land in this place and its environs.

The monastery was illuminated in 1895 and the church existing today was completed in 1920.

You should visit the monastery and the church, rich in the frescoes contained in them, tiled walls and stained glass windows.

Monastery of St. John in the desert – Ein Kerem, Jerusalem

Unlike its name, the monastery is located on the lush, green hills of Ein Kerem, only 7 km from the Old City of Jerusalem. So why, after all, is the monastery “in the desert”?

According to the Gospel of Luke (1:80), John the Baptist lived as an ascetic / hermit in the desert, until his fate was revealed before him.

In those days, the village of Ein Kerem (where John was born) and its surroundings of the Judean Mountains looked completely different than today, and were worthy to be called a desert or wilderness.

Today the Monastery of St. John in the desert is surrounded by forests and vegetation, and a freshwater spring fills a pond with many sea bass.

The territory of the monastery is rich in paths and passages carved in stone.

Some of them lead to two caves, in one of which is a source for baptism and cleansing rituals.

The second is considered a cave in which the parents of John, Zacharias and Elizabeth hid with young John from the Beating of the Babies, which began by order of King Herod.

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