As the home to the three major world religions, Israel has no shortage of holy sites to see. There are several world-renowned churches in Israel that are worth visiting and admiring. With the churches in Israel spread across the country, it can be tricky to see them all. Our experts have compiled a list of the best-known churches in Israel to help you decide which ones to see on your visit.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Undeniably the most famous church in Israel, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre should be on your itinerary regardless of your religious affiliation. Located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is known for being the site where Jesus was crucified and where he was resurrected. Within the church and surrounding it are the stations of the Via Dolorosa, where there are often processions recreating the crucifixion. The church is shared among many different denominations of Christianity, making this a definite must-see for anyone affiliated with the Christian faith. The church itself is grand and beautiful on the inside, and it is considered as one of the most frequently visited sites in Jerusalem.
Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth
The Church of the Annunciation was built in 1969 and is the biggest Catholic church in the Middle East. The church itself was constructed on top of former Crusade and Byzantine churches. According to Catholic tradition, the church is on the same site of the house of the Virgin Mary and where the angel Gabriel told her that she would give birth the Jesus. Therefore, this site is revered by Christians and considered to be one of the holiest religious sites. The church contains some lovely mosaics of Jesus and Mary, which have been donated by Catholic communities from all over.
Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Considered to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, this site is one of the holiest in Israel. It also has the distinction of being one of the oldest continuously used churches in the world, with its establishment dating back to 325. While largely unchanged since its construction, there have been renovations and additions throughout the years. Today, the expanded church is now made up of three different monasteries: a Greek Orthodox one, an Armenian Apostolic one, and a Roman Catholic one. The Church of the Nativity is one of the most important things to do in Bethlehem, and it’s a site that should not be missed!
Church of All Nations, East Jerusalem
Also referred to as the Basilica of Agony, the Church of All Nations is located on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. The Church of All Nations is said to be the place where Jesus prayed before he was arrested. Inside the Catholic church there are several mosaics that are meant to represent the 12 nations that assisted in the church’s funding. It sits next to the Garden of Gethsemane, which is both beautiful and historically significant due to its 2,000 year-old olive trees.
St. Peter’s Church, Jaffa
St. Peter’s Church is located in the Old City of Jaffa, not far from Tel Aviv. The church is dedicated to raising Tabitha from the dead, which was an act performed by St. Peter in Jaffa. The church itself is striking because of its tall brick exterior and bell tower. It is actually the largest building in Old Jaffa and is very recognizable due to its bell tower. The interior looks similar to many cathedrals in Europe, containing stained glass, marble walls, and high ceilings. The artwork inside the church depicts the life of Saint Peter and his miracles. The church is also home to remnants of the 13th century St. Louis’ citadel, including two rooms where Napoleon was said to have lived in 1799.
Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Galilee
Another one of the famous churches in Israel, this site is renowned for being the location where Jesus multiplied a few loaves of bread and two fish in order to feed thousands of his disciples. There are several beautiful 5th century mosaics in the church, and the most prominent one shows two fish surrounding a bread basket, which represents the miracle that happened there. A slab of limestone rock is meant to be the place where the meal was made. The church is less than 100 years old, however, it was built in the aesthetic style of an original Byzantine-era structure.
Church of the Beatitudes, Galilee
The Church of the Beatitudes is know to be the site where Jesus spoke some of his most famous phrases: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God.” The phrases are meant to be uplifting and inspiring to his believers and the world. As a representations of Jesus’ eight beatitudes, the church has eight sides. It is surrounded by serene nature, and its small stature does not impose on the beautiful area that overlooks the Sea of Galilee.
While there are many more churches and religious sites to be visited in the Holy Land, these are the most popular churches in Israel to visit. If you have enough time to visit all of them, each one offers something unique and inspiring. However, if you’re short on time, we suggest contacting our travel experts so that we can build an itinerary that fits your schedule and includes the best churches and other sites.