Israel is perceived as the world’s most religious country, as it hosts numerous religious sites for visitors of different religions. For instance, Christians in the country can explore via Dolorosa Street and Mount Olives to learn the religious history of the places.
On the other hand, the Muslims can tour the western wall, or the temple mount, which hosts the spot where Muhammad is believed to have breathed his last before ascending to heaven. The country has something for every doctrine, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Armenians.
If you want to learn about the rich religious history in this country, this guide will take you on a virtual tour through the most famous holy sites in Israel. Keep reading to learn what the sites have to offer.
The Western Wall
If you pass through the old town of Jerusalem, don’t forget to make a stop at the western wall for prayer or learn about the religious history of the location. The 2000-year-old stone wall is believed to be part of the second temple, where the Jews went for worship before the Romans destroyed it, defeated the Jews, and sent them to exile in the 70 C.E.
When the Jews came from exile, they could not enter the temple mount, which was built adjacent to the wall, as they feared they might step on the holy of holies. They believed, as they still do, that Shechina (divine presence) never left the wall and that the final temple would be put up in the area when the messiah descends.
Visiting the wall will help you connect the old Jewish religious history with the future. If you are not a native, we recommend exploring the area with the help of a guide to translate for you the various Jewish holy scripts placed on the cracks of the wall.
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Israel is home to the holiest sites in the world.
The Mount of Olives
Escalating over 2600 feet above sea level, the Mountain of Olives is the highest point in the East of Old Jerusalem. It derives its name from numerous olive groves that once dominated the mountain. The mount of olives serves as a holy ground for Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
The Christians who visit the mountain gain access to Gethsemane, a garden at the bottom of the mount of olives. According to the gospel, Jesus told his disciples to wait for him as he went to the mountain to make his final prayer.
According to Muslims, the mountain of olives is where the seven-arched bridge adjoining the mount of olives to the temple mount will form to create a way for the righteous. They also refer to the mountain as the holy place where the Holy Kaaba will reunite with its sister rock at the temple mount.
The Jews who come to explore the mountain secure a chance to explore the tomb sites for some of their religious prophets like Zachariah, Malachi, and Haggai, among others. This area has also served as a graveyard for Jewish soldiers who died in the fight between the Israelites and the Palestinians over the mountain of olives.
After exploring the religious attractions in the area, head to the mountain peak to enjoy the scenic views of the old Jerusalem and its surroundings.
If you are interested in walking in the same path that Jesus used while carrying his cross to the cavalry, then Via Dolorosa Street is the place to be. Also known as the way of sorrow, Via Dolorosa features 14 stations, each with a column detailing the events.
The 14 stations start at the place where Jesus was condemned to death all the way to his death and burial. More specifically, the way of sorrow ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is believed to be the location of Jesus’s tomb.
Note: the writings on all plague columns are in the native language. It would help to walk the path with a guide to translate the writings for precise understanding.
The Nazareth City
Nazareth city is another religious city in Israel besides Jerusalem. The holy scriptures describe it as the city where Jesus Christ grew up. Examples of religious sites within Nazareth include:
The Domed Basilica of Annunciation
The Domed Basilica of Annunciation is a catholic church in Nazareth, believed to be positioned where the house of the Virgin Mary used to be. The Catholics believe that this is where angel Gabriel appeared to Virgin Mary and broke the news that she would conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit and bear the son of God
St. Joseph’s Church
St Joseph’s church is situated in the same complex as the Basilica of Annunciation. It is believed to be positioned at the place where Joseph, Mary’s husband, had once set up his carpentry workshop. On the other hand, the synagogue beneath it is believed to be one of the places Jesus attended for classes and prayers.
The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee was a popular scene of many miraculous episodes performed by Jesus. For instance, it was the place where Jesus walked on water, converted Peter and Andrew to his disciples, calmed the storm, taught the beatitudes, and so on.
Tabgha -The Church of Loaves and Fish
On the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee lies Tabgha — the place where Jesus fed a multitude of 5,000 men with two fish and five loaves of bread. The other religious attractions in the area include the mount of beatitudes and the chapel of Peter’s primacy.
Christians should visit the above places to learn about the early life of Jesus and how he began his journey with the 12 disciples.
Explore the Holy Places in Israel
Israel is home to the holiest sites in the world. Although our guide contains some Jerusalem holy sites, it is not exclusive. This gives a small scope of the various locations you can explore in the holy nation.
If you are visiting the country for the first time, we recommend exploring these religious sites in Israel with the help of a guide. Prepare for your trip and learn about the history of Jerusalem to make the most out of your trip.