Pilgrim tours Israel – Why do pilgrims love Israel so much?
Israel has the roots of Christianity for almost 2000 years. Israel is where you can find Jesus's birthplace, the tomb where he addressed his followers and where Jesus walked on water. Because of the connection with Jesus, Israel is a holy place for Christians. According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, last year, around 350,000 Christian pilgrims dipped into the Jordan River for baptism. Every fall, thousands of Christians come to this amazing country to praise the Lord and to walk in his last footsteps.
Christian tour travel agents estimate that between 500,000 and 700,000 Christian pilgrims visit Israel every year, and soon it will reach a million visitors.
Just to mention some of the leading pilgrimage sites in Israel:
1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the holiest Christian site of the world. It is the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most visited pilgrim sites in Israel. It also holds the Stone of Anointing, the Place of the Skull, and the Aedicule chapel, along with the Tomb of Jesus and the Angel's Stone – the stone that was used to close the entrance to the tomb of Jesus. For six centuries, different Christian denominations have shared the church but a Muslim family holds the key to the church.
2. Church of Annunciation
The Church of Annunciation is built on top of a cave that is believed to be where the Virgin Mary stayed and the angel Gabriel appeared announcing to her the birth of Jesus. For Christians, it is one of the holiest places. The Basilica of the Annunciation is also the largest church in the region.
Bethlehem is home to the Church of the Nativity and probably the most spiritual place for Christians. Jesus was born in an underground grotto under the church. It is also one of the most crowded spaces as Christians come here in groups to see the 14 pointed stars set in the ground to mark Jesus' birthplace.
Muslims believe that Bethlehem is where Prophet Muhammad offered a prayer on his way to Jerusalem while, for the Jewish community, this is also an important place.
Your tour agency or agent will help you go through the security checkpoint.
4. Via Dolorosa
"The Ways of Grief" or Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is a 500-meter long route that Jesus Christ took on the way to his crucifixion. Undeniably, the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem in one of the most popular holy sites in Jerusalem and most famous holy places in Israel.
The bigger part of the route goes through the Muslim Quarter, while the smaller part is in the Christian Quarter.
5. Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is an important place for Christianity. According to the Holy Bible, Jesus walked on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and four fishermen, Peter, James, John, and Andrew, followed him. The lake is situated among the hills in Northern Israel. It is the lowest freshwater lake on earth and the second lowest lake in the world.
6. Mount of Beatitudes (Har Nahum)
The Mount of Beatitudes is a hill next to the Sea of Galilee where Jesus is believed to have preached the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes. Later on, a church was built in the same place.
At the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes, there is a site called Tabgha. According to the Holy Bible, Jesus fed almost 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
7. Qasar el Yahud
Baptism is considered an important spiritual event for Christians. They feel an emotional connection when dipped in the water for baptism. According to legend, Qasar el Yahud is where Jesus was baptized by John. It is also one of the most popular pilgrim sites and is accessible to tourists every day. If you want to get baptized at the same place as Jesus experienced it, Qasar el Yahud should be on your top ten places to visit while being in Israel.
8. Experience history in the desert
In the Judean desert, you can find one of the oldest and most spiritual monasteries in Israel and a must-see if you love history. The church is maintained and managed by Greek monks who welcome visitors or people seeking a place of worship.
9. Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is an important religious landmark to both Jews and Christians, located next to the Old City of Jerusalem. Over the last 3,000 years, until today, the Mount of Olives is used as a Jewish cemetery.
It is located above the Temple Mount and offers amazing views of the city. You can visit the Church of All Nations at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. It is believed that here Jesus offered his last prayer before being betrayed by Judas and the Romans captured him.
While you are here, visit the adjoining Garden of Gethsemane. According to history, it is the same garden that existed in the era of Jesus and where he gave his last sermon.
This city, where Jesus Christ lived with his mother Mary and with Joseph after coming back from Egypt, is home to a few very important religious sites, like St. Gabriel's Church and the Mary of Nazareth International Center, where you can learn about the history of Mary, the Holy Caves in the center of ancient Nazareth, and much more.
During Christmas and on other Christian holidays, the city is especially popular and festive and holds a Christmas market and other special events.
So, if you want to visit the places where Jesus was born or walked on water or was resurrected, Israel welcomes you with open arms.
Contact us now for more information about pilgrim tours to Israel!