Israel is a place of great religious and historical significance an extremely important place for millions of people across the world. No wonder then that there are mesmerising churches of great historical and cultural significance everywhere in Israel, from Roman Catholic to Greek Orthodox churches, from old edifices to modern structures. These architectural beauties are visited throughout the year and are packed during Easter and Christmas periods, welcoming all travellers who wish to enter. When on a Holy Land Christian tour to Israel, here are some of the most beautiful churches to visit.
Constructed in 1982, this Roman Catholic church is located at Tabgha, on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee, on the site of two earlier churches. It is cared for by the Benedictine order and is believed to be the place where Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 of his followers. Visitors can see the restored 5th-century and Byzantine-era mosaics, as well as the block of limestone believed to be the rock on which Jesus created the meal.
This magnificent Russian Orthodox church is situated on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. It was built by the Russian Tsar Alexander III in 1886 in honour of his mother. It was heavily inspired by the Russian architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries and was built in the traditional tented roof style. Furthermore, several influential people of the pre-Soviet period are buried here.
This edifice is one of the most significant Christian sites in Jerusalem. First constructed in the 4th century, then reconstructed in the 11th, it has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination for seventeen centuries as it is believed that here are the sites of Jesus’s crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Numerous Christians of all denominations and other travellers visit this church yearly.
Situated on Mount Tabor, this Franciscan church was built in 1924 on the location of a Byzantine and a Crusader church. It’s believed to be the site where the Transfiguration of Christ took place. The church features beautiful mosaics and chapels dedicated to Moses and Elijah. Also, you can visit the cave believed to have been the dwelling of St. Melchizedek. Nearby stands a Greek Orthodox church, called the Church of St. Elias.
This architectural beauty, with its warm-coloured bricks, vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, and marble walls is situated in Old Jaffa near the beach and is surrounded by palm trees. It is a Franciscan church, built in 1894 during the period of the Ottoman Empire and dedicated to Saint Peter’s raising Tabitha from the dead in Jaffa.
Opened in 1769, St. Gabriel’s Church is located in the centre of downtown Nazareth. This significant structure is also known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Annunciation and is visited by travellers of all faiths. It is believed to be the place where Gabriel delivered the news to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Hence, it’s built over the spring that fed Mary’s Well where she’d fetch water. It is decorated with stain-glass windows, murals, and depictions of Mary.
The Catholic counterpart of St. Gabriel’s Church is the Basilica of Annunciation, built in 1969 on the remains of Byzantine and Crusader-era churches. The first shrine on this spot was built around the 4th century, and many more were erected here since. This church belongs to the Franciscans and contains the cave where Mary is said to have received the news of her pregnancy. It is decorated with mosaics of Mary and Jesus, and the visitors can also see its famous dome.
This Roman Catholic church was built in 1924 on the ruins of a Byzantine basilica and a Crusader chapel and is decorated with mosaics depicting the twelve nations that funded its construction. It’s located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, next to the Garden of Gethsemane, famous as the place where Jesus prayed the night before the crucifixion. The church contains a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed.
Church of the Beatitudes is a neo-Byzantine Roman Catholic church completed in 1938, which commemorates the Sermon on the Mount. It stands on a beautiful spot, near Tabgha and Capernaum, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It is believed that this is the site where Jesus uttered the eight Beatitudes. The church itself has eight sides that represent the eight Beatitudes.
Finally, for a trip to a famous site outside of Israel, visit this World Heritage Site, located in Bethlehem in the West Bank. This church commemorates the cave in which Jesus is said to have been born, so it is extremely important to Christians of various denominations. Completed in 565, this Romanesque complex is one of the oldest constantly used churches in the world, and it also houses the Church of St. Catherine and the Grotto of the Nativity.