Christian Pilgrims have been visiting Israel for centuries. No wonder: the land where Jesus and the disciples lived is filled with historical sites and ancient churches that hold a tremendous importance for Christian believers. Many important churches in Israel are spread throughout the country, and are visited by thousands of believers every year. The following is a shortlist of some of the most significant churches in Israel:
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, is the first among the Christian shrines. According to Christian belief, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (refereed to as Golgotha, the Hill of Calvary, by most Christians) is where Jesus was crucified and buried. The resurrection has been celebrated there for many centuries as the most sacred place in all of Christendom.
The Chapel of the Ascension
The Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem is believed by Christians to be where Jesus ascended into heaven. It is a holy site for Muslims as well, and serves as a church and a mosque. The first church was built there in 390 AD., the current chapel was built in 1150 AD., and the mosque was added in 1620 AD. It is located just south of the Mount of Olives.
The Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the most ancient churches in the world, and one of the most important churches in Israel. It was built over the supposed birth place of Jesus, and is considered sacred to Muslims as well.
The Church of the Annunciation
The Church of the Annunciation, sometimes referred to as the Basilica of the Annunciation, is located in Nazareth, where – according to Roman Catholic tradition – Mary was told by Gabriel that she will be the mother of Jesus. The Church of the Annunciation is a pilgrims’ must-see and a tourists’ long time favorite. Church of St. Gabriel – According to the apocryphal Gospel, the Church of St. Gabriel (St. Mary’s well) is the actual place where Gabriel made the announcement to Mary. It is also located in Nazareth. The Church of St. Joseph is another main Christian attraction in Nazareth. Known as the supposed location of Joseph’s carpentry shop, the Church of St. Joseph is visited by many believers every year. The lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary.