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Israel Christian Tours – A List of Top Sites

Are you planning a Holy Land experience to visit Christian religious sites in Israel.  Create the perfect Israel tour itinerary by combining the most popular pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. You can depend on this list of Top Sites for Israel Christian tours. If you have visited any of these sites, please share your feelings and recommendations. Israelandyou welcomes your inquires and comments.

Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth
The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth stands impressively, above the Arab market, on the traditional site of angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. In Nazareth you can also visit Mary’s Well, where she may have fetched water regularly, and St. Gabriel’s Orthodox Church. Nazareth was the hometown of Mary and Joseph. According to tradition, it was here that Mary was told she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit. Lk 1:26-38

Church of the NativityBethlehem
This church in Bethlehem was originally built by Constantine over a cave associated with the manger. A star that marks the traditional site of the Nativity. Christmas Midnight Mass hosts representatives of all three monotheistic religiions as well as Israeli and Palestinian politicians. The relics of the Three Magi are said to be in Cologne Cathedral. The New Testament says that Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem, the City of David, while Mary and Joseph were there for the Roman census. Angels announced the event to nearby shepherds and Magi arrived to worship him. Lk 2:1-20; Mt 2:1-9

Nile Valley, Egypt (Not technically the Holy Land, but in the neighborhood)
The Holy Family is traditionally believed to have followed a route along the north of Egypt, then south along the Nile River Valley, not staying in any one place too long (map and description). There are several churches, convents, and sacred springs along the route. Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt to avoid the wrath of mad King Herod, who heard about the birth of the “King of the Jews” from the Magi and had all young boys in Judea killed. The family stayed in Egypt until Herod died. Mt 2:13-20

In Nazareth, pilgrims can visit Mary’s Well, where Mary may have drawn water and would have brought the young Jesus along, and the Church of St. Joseph, built over the site of Joseph’s workshop where Jesus probably helped. The New Testament says little about Jesus’ formative years, but it does indicate that he grew up in Nazareth. You can even visit the synagogue that Joseph took Jesus  to pray as a child. He is assumed to have trained as a carpenter under Joseph and to have had a traditional Jewish upbringing. Mt 2:22-23; 21:11; Mk 1:9
Franciscan Wedding Church at Kafr Kana

Wedding ChurchCana (Kafr Kanna)
Cana is identified as the modern village of Kafr Kanna, about 7 km northeast of Nazareth (and only a few kilometers from my home). The Franciscan “Wedding Church” celebrates the miracle of Cana. Here Jesus performed the first of many miracles at Cana, a small village near Nazareth. Invited to a Jewish wedding, Jesus helped the frantic host by turning water into wine. Perhaps that is why all the churches in Kefr Kenna (Kafr Cana or Kafr Kana) sell wine. Jn 2:1-11 

Baptism Site, There are two Baptism sites. One on each side of the Jordan River.

Qasr el Yahud or Kasser Al Yahud,  A traditional baptism site in the Jordan River Valley in the West Bank, near Jericho.

Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, Jordan, Another site traditionally identified with Jesus’ baptism is east of Jericho in Jordan. It has been extensively excavated and developed since the 1994 peace treaty and there are now many ancient ruins and modern structures to see here, only a short drive from your hotel in Jerusalem. Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, on the shores of the Jordan River. Here John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, and a dove was seen to land on Jesus as he came up out of the water. Mt 3 He later returned to the site to teach. Jn 1:40-42
Monastery of Temptation

Monastery of the Temptation, Mount Quarntal
Mount Quarntal, just north of Jericho, is the traditional site of this event, and it is commemorated by the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation. Be sure  to make the ascent in the new cable car. After his baptism, Jesus withdrew into the nearby desert to fast and pray for 40 days. The Devil tried three times to tempt Jesus to break his fast or compromise his mission.Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus Boat

Galilee Boat (Jesus Boat), Kibbutz Ginosar, Galilee 
The Sea of Galilee and the region of Galilee is in northern Israel. A 1st-century fishing boat was recently discovered in the mud here, which may be very similar to the one Jesus used. Known as the Galilee Boat or Jesus Boat, it is on display at Kibbutz Ginosar. The kibbutz has a wonderful hotel waiting for you. Christ’s first disciples were fishermen Jesus encountered on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He challenged them to leave their nets and become “fishers of men.”Mt 5:18-22
Mount Precipice

Mount Precipice, Mount Kedumim, Nazareth
A clifftop site on Mount Kedumim near Nazareth is traditionally believed to be the site of this event and is known as Mount Precipice. There are few ruins here, but a fine view of Emek Yizrael (Jezreel Valley) . You can also visit the Arab market or the modern malls. After his temptation in the desert, Jesus returned to Nazareth where he grew up and began to preach in the synagogues. When he said “No prophet is accepted in his hometown,” the people tried to throw him off a cliff. Luke 4:14-30
House of St Peter

House of St. Peter, Capernaum
A spaceship-like modern Franciscan church stands on the site of the House of St. Peter in Capernaum, where Jesus lived, healed a paralytic, and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Capernaum, Tabgha and the near-by Mount of Beatitudes are a perfect pilgrim itinerary. Most of Jesus’ early teachings and miracles occurred around the Sea of Galilee. During this time, he made his home in Capernaum at the family home of St. Peter.
Bread and Fish

Church of the Loaves and Fishes, Tabgha
This famous miracle is commemorated by the Church of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, on the northwestern shore of the Galilee. The beautiful church features 5th-century mosaics, including one of a basket of bread with two fish.  On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus multiplied just a few loaves and fishes into enough food to feed 5,000 people, so if you are hungry you can travel to a restaurant in Migdal or Tiberias. Mt 15:32-39
Mount of Beatitudes

Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha
According to tradition, the Sermon on the Mount occurred on a small rise at Tabgha, where now stands the octagonal Church of the Beatitudes. The building is an architectural masterpiece. There are lovely views from here of Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. The most famous of Jesus’ many sermons is the Sermon on the Mount, which begins with the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the meek…) Mt 5-7

Mount Tabor
Since the 4th century, this hill rising above the Jezreel Valley has been identified as the Mount of Transfiguration. There are Franciscan and Greek Orthodox churches at the top. Why not try the “extreme” route and climb up by way to the Israel Trail (Shvil Yisrael)? “Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them.” Mt 17:1-9


Palm Sunday Procession, Jerusalem
Religious processions take place in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday each year to commemorate this event. The palms remind one of Jewish traditional palms during the Feast of Tabernacles. In what was to be the last week of his life, Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a donkey, while cheering crowds lauded him with palm fronds.
Tomb of Lazarus

Tomb of Lazarus, Bethany
In Bethany, near Jerusalem, pilgrims can visit the Tomb of Lazarus, which has been revered from an early date. There is also a Franciscan Church of St. Lazarus that stands on the site of earlier churches. Jesus raised a man named Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the tomb four days. Jn 11:1-44

House of Simon the Leper, Bethany
Near a modern Greek Orthodox church in Bethany are substantial ruins that belong to the Orthodox Patriarchate and are traditionally identified as the House of Simon the Leper. Each Christian sect has its own traditions about holy places. Jesus stayed at the house of Simon the Leper, where his feet were anointed with perfume by Mary. Mk 14:1-10
Last Supper Room

Last Supper Room, Jerusalem
The event is traditionally associated with the Last Supper Room on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The event was most famously commemorated by Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco The Last Supper, which is in a church in Milan. On the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested, he shared a last meal with his disciples. It was during this meal that he instituted the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist. On another floor of this building is a tomb said to be the Tomb of King David.  Mk 14:12-26;

Basilica of the Agony, Jerusalem
The Church of All Nations (or Basilica of the Agony) marks the place where Jesus prayed alone and in agony. The Cave of Gethsemane marks the site of the betrayal by Judah. After the Last Supper, Jesus led his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them to keep watch while he prayed. They fell asleep, and then fled when Jesus was identified by Judas and arrested. Mt 26:36-56; Mk 14:32-51
Chapel of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross is topped by five white domes

Chapel of the Condemnation or Citadel, Jerusalem
On the Via Dolorosa is the Chapel of the Condemnation, built over the site traditionally identified with the trial of Jesus. But a more likely historical candidate for the site is the Citadel, which was the royal palace during the time of Christ and is where Pilate would have likely resided. After being condemned by the Sanhedrin, Jesus is taken before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate for trial. At the instigation of the crowd, Jesus is sentenced to death in the Roman manner, by crucifixion. Mt 27; Mk 15
Monastery of the Flagellation

Monastery of the Flagellation, Jerusalem
This event is commemorated in the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa, next to the Chapel of the Condemnation. Jesus was flogged by Roman soldiers before being led to his execution. Mt 27:27-30

Via Dolorosa
Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem
The Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is believed to be the path Jesus took to Calvary, where he was crucified. Stations of the Cross mark various events along the way, some of which are not recorded in the New Testament. Many pilgrim recite prayers, sing liturgy or carry a symbolic cross on their backs. Jesus was made to carry his own cross from the place of his condemnation to Calvary. Jn 17:19
Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
The site of Jesus’ crucifixion is believed to be the area identified as Calvary (skull) within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Each Christian sect controls a portion of this church. A Greek Orthodox altar stands directly over the rocky outcrop on which the cross of Christ is believed to have stood. The rock can be touched through a hole on the floor under the altar. Jesus was crucified at “a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull)” between two thieves. After about three hours of suffering and mocking, Jesus “gave up his spirit.” Mt 27:32-55 

Church of the Holy Sepulchre (for Catholics and Orthodox)  or Garden Tomb (for Protestants), Jerusalem
The holiest site in Jerusalem, and indeed all of Christianity, is the Tomb of Christ, located within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church was built around the tomb by Constantine. Pilgrims can see the place where Jesus’ body was laid as well as a piece of the stone that was rolled away. An alternative site is the Garden Tomb outside the walls, which has less claims to authenticity but is popular especially with Protestant pilgrims. “As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.” Mt 27:57-60

Emmaus: The site of Emmaus Nikopolis, 18 miles from Jerusalem on the road to Jaffa, has been identified as the biblical Emmaus,, site of the first Post-Resurrection Appearance, since as early as the 3rd century. However, its authenticity is unlikely. Today there are ruins of a Byzantine-Crusader basilica and a museum on the site as well as an interesting group of Christian believers. Jesus appeared to his disciples and others in various places and times after his resurrection. The first time was to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who did not recognize their Lord at first. Lk 24

Church of the Primacy of Peter, Tabgha
A Franciscan chapel stands on the site of a 4th-century church just offshore near Tabgha. A large rock is revered as the place where Jesus laid out fish and bread for his disciples, and reinstated Peter with the words “Feed my sheep.” The third time Jesus appeared (Post-Resurrection) was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he helped Peter and other disciples catch a net full of fish, then shared breakfast with them. Jn 21
Ascension Church

Chapel of the Ascension, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
The traditional site of Jesus’ ascension into heaven after his Resurrection is marked by the Chapel and Mosque of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. The chapel includes an impression of Christ’s footprint. “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” Lk 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11

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