Mt. Sinai, also known as Mt. Horeb and Jebel Musa, translated as "the 'Mountain of Moses," is the epicenter of a venerated holy land destination that includes the Burning Bush (Exodus 3), Elijah's Plateau, the Plain of ar-Raaha, and the impressive Monastery of St. Catherine at the base of Mt. Sinai.
Mt. Sinai is the traditional site where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, and where the golden calf was forged (Exodus 32). There are several small chapels at the top of Mt. Sinai, from where you'll experience stunning sunrise views of the surrounding holy land. The trail to the summit is known as the Path of Moses and you'll encounter remains of several chapels along the way. Many Christian take the time to read from the scriptures and for prayer, and watch the sunrise which is stunning. On the summit of Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa) you'll find a small chapel commemorating the Holy Trinity. This chapel, was erected in 1934 on ruins of a 16th church, believed to house the rock from which God made the Ten Commandments Tablets given to Israelites. On it's western wall there's a cleft in the rock where it's said Moses hid himself as God's glory passed (Exodus 33:22). 750 steps down the summit and chapel is Elijah's Basin plateau, where Elijah spoke to God in a cave for 40 days and nights. Not to far from here is a rock where the brother of Moses, named Aaron, and seventy elders stood with Moses receiving the law (Exodus 24:14). To the northwest there's the Plain of ar-Raaha, the Israeli camp site when Moses ascended Mt. Sinai and erected the tabernacle.
Bethany is situated on the main road in the out-skirts of Jerusalem, which in the days of Jesus was a thriving city. According to Christian teachings, this is the same village mentioned in the New Testament as the site where Jesus stayed during his visits to Jerusalem. Bethany began as a holy site destination in the beginning of the Beyzantine period, and since the birth of the Church, being mentioned by it's founders, especially in connection with the traditions with the grave of Lazarus.
Two New Testament Scriptures mention Bethany. Each of these are commemorated on the walls of the Franciscan Church of Lazarus situated on the main road to Jerusalem. The most important of the three scripture to Christians- the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus after he had laid in his grave for 4 days (John 11:1-47). This is considered the greatest miracle by most scholars and the faithful alike of Jesus. It not only amazed the town-multitudes, but also angered and create fear to theSanhedrin, and according to the Gospel of St. John led to the decision to plan a end to Jesus life (John 11:53).
The second Scripture is associated to the visit of Jesus to the house of Simon the Leper in Bethany, and the anointment of his feet, according to John (John 12) with precious oil by a woman, that being Mary Magdalene (Matthew 26:6-13, John 12:1-8). In the Scriptures, the disciples were indignant that precious oils had been wasted, as they believed the oil could have been sold for a good sum of money that could have been given to the poor, but instead Jesus praised the act of Mary Magdalene, foreseeing the future of anointing Jesus body in anticipation on his death on the cross.
Queen Melisend, a sister of Yvette a nun from the order, took it upon as a service to rebuild the damaged portions of the church. However, Christian pilgrims accounts of their travel to the holy land from early 4th century note that the Church of St. Lazarus had been converted into a mosque. Not until the 7th century, Christian presence to the holy site was allowed to the Franciscans, whom managed to get access buy creating a staircase leading down to Lazarus's grave, but only in 1952-1953, the Franciscans succeed in building the present church and monastery that you see today.
The sunlight that comes from the top of the dome, symbolizes the resurrection of Lazarus. The churches walls are adorned with beautiful mosaics, commemorating the two scriptures which occurred and the important tradition of the processions occurring in Bethany. Holy Land pilgrims also will find the remains of churches and monasteries from the Byzantine and Crusader periods have been uncovered in the area adjoining the church. On a small slope above the modern church is the actual site of Lazarus' tomb, currently under the Muslim authority. a passageway with 42-steps lead pilgrims to the tomb's entrance. Entry into the burial room was blocked, described in the New Testament, by a stone which Jesus asked to be moved so that he could resurrect Lazarus (John 11:38-39). The spot where Jesus stood has been made into a chapel.
The Chapel of the Ascension in the Mount of Olives is situated where Jesus is believed to have ascended to heaven, however all that is left is a small octagonal-structure in an area that ones was part of a large Christian church complex , which after became a monastery, and is today an Islamic mosque that is controlled by Islamic authority.
The dome contains a unique slab of stone believed to have Jesus last footprint on earth, despite this the shrine remains a simple holy site shrine, and is regularly overlooked by most Christian pilgrims touring Jerusalem. Simple and unadorned, the Dome is located in a walled-compound east of the main road that goes up to the top of Mount of Olives. Soon after Jesus resurrection, early Christians used a small cave in the Mount of Olives area as a secluded place to commemorate the Ascension because of early persecution by the government. After this period, the spot of commemoration was moved in 384 to it's present location, uphill from the cave location. The famous pilgrim Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great whom traveled to the holy land from 326 to 328, was moved after her travels to construct two sanctuary complexes at the site. While many Christians touring the Holy Land prefer to visit other Christian Churches commemorating the Ascension, you'll find a few believers whom take private tours to the holy site today since it is currently opened to visitors of all faiths, for a nominal fee. Several different Christian communities are also allowed to hold celebrations specially on the Ascension feast days in the holy land.
Bethlehem the birthplace of Jesus offers a spiritually rewarding experience to Christians traveling to the holy land. The Palestinian city located in the West Bank is home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, although the size of the community has dwindled due to emigration. The city also known as Beit Lahm, Beit Sahur, Bet Lehem, Betar, Beth-Lehem, and several other names as well as the "City of David" since the Hebrew Bible identifies it as the city David was from and where he was crowned as the king of Israel. Bethlehem is an important holy land pilgrimage destination which peaks during the Christmas season when Christians make pilgrimage to the Church of Nativity, as they have done for nearly two millennia. But Bethlehem is not only a Holy Land destination for Christians, Jewish pilgrims travel to Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish holy site destination, located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.Today's local Bethlehem economy is largely sustained by tourism, and in particular holy land pilgrims visiting the Church of Nativity. The entrance to this famous church is surprisingly non-impressive. The large courtyard is perfect for groups of pilgrims and tourist however some vendors are noticeably allowed in this area. The church building is the oldest standing church in the Holy Land. Built by Constantine's mother Helena in the 4th century, and later badly damaged by the Samaritans revolt in 529, but was rebuilt only a century later by the emperor Justinian I, and stands today very much the same in its present form, being spared destructions by Persians due to local Muslim-Christian friendships. From early tradition the birthplace of baby Jesus has been in a cave. While there is no mention of a cave in the Scriptures, it is true that many houses in Nazareth at the time were built in front or nearby caves. The cave would serve as a household storage or shelter for domestic animals.
The stunning location of Saint Catherine's Monastery makes it an amazing holy land tour destination, located in the triangular zone between the Desert of El-Tih, the Gulf of Aquaba and the Gulf of Suez is made of granite rock blending with the colors of Mount Sinai. Saint Catherine's Monastery a UNESCO World Heritage site was built between 548 and 565, and is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world that has never been destroyed in its long history. Today the monastery is visited by thousands of Christian and those of Jewish faith, and because of this a small town has grown nearby to the monastery called Saint Katherine City. Moses led his people through these rugged mountains in to the Promise Land, and for this the location has long been a magnet and sacred site for Christian pilgrims traveling to the holy land, after all it is in Mount Sinai, where God showed himself to Moses to deliver to him the tablets containing the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).
The monastery is known as Saint Catherine's, however its full official name is the Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai. The earliest description refers to the Monastery of the Holy Virgin, for the revelation of God at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3) was seen as a type of the Virgin Mary and the Incarnation. The monastery is dedicated to the holy prophets Moses and Elias, whom both came to Mount Sinai, and spoke with Christ at the Transfiguration. You'll find Saint Catherine Monastery to be one of your highlights during your Christian Holy Land tour, and on one of the mornings during your tour at day break, those who desire and are physically capable, can climb-up Mt. Sinai Jabal Musa (6,900 ft) to the summit (750 steps) walking the Footsteps of Moses, and enjoy a time of praise and incredible views of the Sinai wilderness.
Mount Nebo standing 3,300 ft high located only six miles northwest of Madaba Jordan is according to the scriptures, the mountain from where God showed Moses the Promise Land to his people before he died (Deuteronomy 34). Naturally Mount Nebo has traditionally been an important site for Christians traveling to the Holy Land, and is a popular stop for tours that go on to Jordan from Israel.
In 1564 the site was abandoned and remained mostly neglected until 1993, the site was purchased by the Franciscans, who excavated and restored the area. Excavations led by the Franciscans, have discovered remains of an early Byzantine basilica and its magnificent mosaics, which today have been incorporated into the present structure of a simple church building known as the Memorial Church of Moses, where you'll find Christian pilgrims visiting the holy land site every day..
According to the scriptures, Moses was buried on Mount Nebo, but the exact locations no one knows. Rising over above the Jordan Valley, the mountain offers spectacular views of the Holy Land as seen by Moses. Mount Nebo also serves as a unique aerial panoramic view of the Holy Land and Jordan. If you look to the south, the spectacular panoramic view extends all the way across the Dead Sea.
When visitors to the holy site look to the west, they can view the lush greenery and landscapes of the Jordan valley. When visiting Mount Nebo one of the things you'll see atop of the platform is a sculpture called the Brazen Serpent. The monument was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni. It is symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness (numbers 21:4-9) and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified (John 3:14). During the Exodus journey, God sent plague to kill the rebellious Israelites. God also instructed Moses to hold up a bronze serpent on a pole to stop the plague. All who looked up at the raised serpent survived the plague. Just like God wanted to show the Promise Land to Moses, you can also have this rich spiritual experience and stand and see the Promise Land atop of Mount Nebo as Moses once did.
One of the highlights during our tours to Israel is visiting the Western Wall, the remaining wall of the Second Temple, where Boy Jesus is found in the Temple court after three days of being lost (Luke 2:41-52), and where later Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Matthew 21:12-17) overturning tables during a pilgrimage by Jesus and his disciples to the holy city of Jerusalem, and it is the Temple that Jesus uses his body to compare to foretelling the high Jewish council he will be raised after being destroyed after three days (John 2:19).
The Western Wall, also known as The Wailing Wall, the Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the area known as The Noble Sanctuary. The Western Wall is not only the exposed section facing a large plaza commonly used for a site for prayer, but also to the sections behind structures running along the whole length of the Temple Mount, like the Little Western Wall - a 25 ft. section in the quarter. Parts of the wall are ruins of the ancient wall that surrounded the Temple, and is arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith. Just over half the wall, including its seventeen courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, believed to have been constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great, but recent excavations indicate that the construction of the Temple were not finished during Herod's lifetime. The remaining layers were added from the Umayyad era onwards, especially during Ottoman rule.
Many Christians traveling to the Holy Land come here to pray, and many enjoy watching the festive Bar / Bat Mitzvahs at the Western Wall. The practice of placing prayer notes into the cracks of the Wall began over three hundred years ago. The earliest account of this practice is told by the Munkatcher Rebbe. The story involves Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, the Ohr Hachaim, in Morocco. The story goes that a man came to him in great distress after he had become so anguished that he was not able to provide food for his family. The Ohr Hachaim wrote him an amulet in Ashuri script on parchment and instructed the man to place it between the stones of the Western Wall. Today, more than a million prayer notes or wishes are placed in the Western Wall each year. Notes that are placed in the Wall are written in all languages and format. Their lengths vary from a few words to very long requests. They include poems and Biblical verses. They are written on a wide variety of papers, including colored paper, notebook paper and even bubblegum wrappers, using a variety of inks. Twice a year these notes are collected and buried in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
The tradition of leaving notes for God in the Western Wall has also been adopted by Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land and people of other faiths. During your Christian holy land tour to Israel you can be part of this amazing experience by praying and placing a note for God in the cracks of the Western Wall, after all it was a highlight in Jesus times to travel to the Temple, and it will also be yours during this special day visiting the Holy Land Israel.
During your Christian Holy Land Israel tour we'll stop at Mount Carmel for a spectacular view of Haifa Bay. Mount Carmel is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. A number of towns are located in this region, most notably the city of Haifa, Israel's third largest city, located on the northern slope. The 1500-foot high limestone mountain impeded armies and merchants traveling to the Jezreel Valley. Mt. Carmel is referenced many times in the Bible as a symbol of beauty and fertility. To be given the "splendor of Carmel" was to be blessed indeed (Isaiah 35:2). Solomon praised his beloved: "your head crowns you like Mount Carmel" (Song of Solomon 7:5). But for Carmel to wither was a sign of devastating judgment (Nahum 1:4). Both Epiphanius and Josephus believed, Mount Carmel had been the stronghold of the Essenes sect that came from a area in Galilee named Nazareth; though this Essene group are sometimes consequently referred to as Nazareans, they are not to be confused with the Nazarene, which followed the teachings of our Lord Jesus, but associated with the Pharisees. Members of the modern American groups claiming to be Essenes, however viewed by scholars as having no ties to the historical sect, believe Mount Carmel has great religious significance on account of the protection it afforded to the historic Essene group. According to the Bible in (1 Kings 18), the challenge was to see which deity could light a sacrifice by fire. After the prophets of Baal had failed to achieve this, Elijah had water poured on his sacrifice to saturate the altar and then he prayed; fire fell and consumed the sacrifice, wood, stones, soil, and water which persuaded the Israelite witnesses to proclaim, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!" In the account, Elijah proclaimed the end to a long drought; clouds gathered, the sky turned black, and it rained heavily.
Travel to the Holy Land and visit the Sea of Galilee Boat, known as the Jesus Boat, an ancient fishing boat from the time of Jesus, and for Christians the boat is one of the most precious and meaningful archaeological discoveries in the world. The discovery at the Sea of Galilee was made by two brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan whom were fishermen from Ginosar, or known as Gennesaret in Jesus times (Matt. 14:34, Mark 6:53), walking along the shores of the Galilee after a recent drought they noticed a mysterious object in the mud. A couple of weeks later, an ancient vessel saw the light of day for the first time since it sank nearly 2,000 years ago. Expert scholars believe the boat was a combined ferry and fishing-boat, and some consider that it might have even served in a sea-battle against the Romans. Today millions of Christians whom have visited the museum during their holy land tour stop here, and while no one truly knows exactly who rode the boat or how it was used, it will always be "the Jesus boat" for the pilgrim believers serving as a powerful present reminder of the past of the Gospel stories of Jesus and his disciples, whom were fisherman themselves and there is little doubt that they used similar boats to the Sea of Galilee Boat you will witness on your holy land trip.
The Hebrew word for Jericho means "fragrant," and today is called the "City of Palms." Jericho lies on the lowest place on earth down in the Jordan Valley, about 6.2 miles from the Dead Sea and 16.7 miles from Jerusalem. The town is located 250m below sea level. While Jericho is on hot scorching desert sands, it has a very good supply of freshwater from local springs. The history of Jericho in the bible begins with Moses looking west across the Jordan from Mount Nebo, "the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees," (Deuteronomy 34:3). It was Joshua who led the Israelites into the "promised land" and made plans to conquer Jericho first. Archaeologists have discovered ancient city walls surrounding the city. These walls as high as nine meters high were built with rooms within the walls, and are mentioned in the scriptures (Joshua chapter 2), when the faithful women Rahab living in a house on the wall, sheltered and helped the spies sent out by Joshua by hiding them and lowering them from windows to escape. In the scriptures we learn how the city was conquered and destroyed in a very unusual manner. The Israelite army marched around the city walls for six days carrying the ark of the Lord. On the 7th day they circled seven times and the priest blew with their trumpets and the people shouting made the walls collapse. Joshua took the city and saved only Rahab, 'her father's household, and all her belongings.' (Joshua 6.1-25) Rahab appears in the genealogy of Christ and is mentioned in the scriptures as a woman of faith. While some scholars believe in the scriptures happening exactly as it's written others argue the exact conquest of Jericho by Joshua. Believers feel that the hand of God had a direct impact on Jericho. Having destroyed it Joshua made a prophecy: "Cursed before the Lord is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates" (Joshua 6:26.NIV). This prophecy was fulfilled a few centuries later when King Ahabreigned and Hiel of Bethel set about reconstructing the city walls and lost his two sons as Joshua had predicted (1 Kings 16:34NIV). On your travel to the Holy Land, you can read about the encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus in Jericho. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector, a man of wealth and hated by the local people. As Jesus traveled through Jericho, he was determined to see Jesus but because he was a short man, he climbed a tree to get a sight of Jesus. However it was Jesus who sought out Zacchaeus, seeing in him a readiness to change his life. The scriptures tell how Jesus, despite being criticized, stayed in Jericho at this man's house, and brought salvation to him. (Luke 19:1-10). The Priests and the Levites also used Jericho as their resting-place. The Jewish Talmud comments that there were as many priests in Jericho as there were in Jerusalem, and Jesus used this fact to illustrate his parable (Luke 10:25-37).
The last writing of Jericho in the Bible is in the letter to the Hebrews, where the author tells us how the faith of the Israelites in the power of God brought the walls of ancient Jericho crashing down (Hebrews 11.30). It was not long after, that the city was destroyed by the Romans to put down the Jewish revolt in AD 70. You can marvel and stand today on the ruins of the city during your Christian trip to Israel, and witness history and archeology with your own eyes.
One of the important places in the scripture you will visit during your tour of Israel is Bethlehem, where according to tradition Mary gave birth to Jesus in a cave, and where it's currently marked by a star in the Byzantine church the Church of the Nativity that commemorates the birth of Jesus. Scriptures do not mention the existence of a cave, however it was during these times custom to build houses in front of caves, which provided additional shelter for animals and storage space. Bethleham also known as Beit Lahm is currently a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, neighboring south ofJerusalem and is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Besides being identified in the New Testament as the birth place of Jesus, it's mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the city David was from. The area to the east of Bethlehem is believed by tradition to be the area of the fields of the shepherds "keeping watch o'er their flocks by night." Many churches have been built to commemorate this event in the surrounding area, and still to this day you will see shepherds tending their flocks in this same area during your tour to Bethlehem. Bethlehem today is a popular holy land destination home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. Besides the Christian sites of the Church of Nativity, Shepherds' field, and Manger's Square, you will find Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy site, located in the north of the city.
On our holyland tour to Israel, one of the first picturesque views of an ancient city will be that of Jaffa situated on a natural harbor atop a hill on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and only minutes from Tel Aviv. This ancient port city is the oldest municipality in Israel, and famous for being mentioned in the bible stories of Solomon, Jonah, and Peter. The city was strategically located in the center of Israel, with an ancient coastal road that connected the region north of Israel to Mesopotamia, Asia, and Syria, and to the south to Egypt. Several of our Christian Israel tours include touring in Jaffa or give leisure time in Tel Aviv where you can explore and walk through the narrow passages of Old Jaffa, see St. Peter Church and take a spectacular view of Tel Aviv shoreline from Jaffa Hilltop.
Perhaps one of the more significant biblical stories of Jaffa is the mention of the port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for the building of Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 2:15) "And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the Lord, and an house for his kingdom, and Solomon sent to Huram the king of Tyre, saying, send me also cedar trees, fir trees, and algum trees, out of Lebanon, and we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need: and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem." Other biblical stories include as one of the cities that were given to the Hebrew Tribe of Dan (Book of Joshua 19:46), as the place where the prophet Jonah embarked sailing to Tarshish (Jonah 1 3). A great storm threatened the safety of the ship, and the mariners threw him overboard, an he was swallowed by a whale, "and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."Eventually, Jonah agreed to do as commanded by the Lord, so he was "vomited out upon dry land," and then went to Ninveh to complete the mission. Jaffa was also port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for the Second Temple of Jerusalem (Book of Ezra 3:7). Jaffa is mentioned as well in the Book of Joshua as the territorial border for the Tribe of Dan, and where the modern term "Gush Dan" for the center of the coastal plain comes from. Many descendants of Dan lived along the coast and earned their living from ship-making and sea navigating. In the "Song of Deborah" the prophetess asks: "Why doth Dan dwell in ships." In the New Testament account of St. Peter's resurrection of the widow Tabitha (Dorcas, Gr.) written in (Acts 9:36 -42) takes place in Jaffa. The bible relates that while Peter was in Jaffa (Acts 10:10 -23), he had a vision of a large sheet filled with "clean" and "unclean" animals being lowered from heaven, together with a message from the Holy Spirit to accompany several messengers to Cornelius in Caesaria.
A visit to Caesarea during your tour to Israel is programmed in your tour itinerary. A tour through this ancient port city, and Caesarea's antiquities park is like walking through a story that spans history between the Old and New Testament. Built by the Roman Empire and Herod the Great, the name of Cesarea derives from the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, which in the New Testament is the Emperor according to the Gospel of Luke, who orders a census making Joseph and Mary (pregnant with Jesus), travel on a long journey from Nazareth to the Kingdom of Judea in Bethlehem. Besides the presence of Caesarea in Jesus times, the city is featured throughout the New Testament in the lives of St. Peter and Paul. Its in Caesarea where St. Peter baptizes the first man that is not a Jew, the Roman Officer Cornelius, and it is from Caesarea where the message of the Lord is first introduced to the Gentiles. Here in Caesarea, Paul was captured and imprisoned by the Romans, and after two years in prison he sails from Caesarea to his country Tarsus. Paul makes many more visits to Caesarea during his mission in the early Christian church. Also, Philip the Apostle lives in Caesarea, and is a follower of Jesus from this very city.
Nazareth holds a special meaning to all Christians, and is a must and popular destination during your trip to the Holy Land. Nazareth is the home to the the largest church in the middle east the Church of Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel announced the news from God that the Virgin Mary is carrying his son. Nazareth during Jesus time was a small village, and of little interest compared to its neighboring large city of Sepphoris, but due to Jesus growing up and having his childhood here as mentioned in the New Testament, Nazareth today is a thriving large town, while Sepphoris is now in archaeological ruins.This Holy Land city is home to hundreds of churches and monasteries belonging to different Christian denominations. Its a prime destination for pilgrims on their Holy Land Tours to Israel, and a very important event which took place here in the New Testament, so much so that most shrines and Churches are named after and dedicated to the Biblical event surrounding Christ's life and the miracle of the Annunciation.
The city of Nazareth is also a great destination stop during your Holy Land Tour, because it is currently the largest Arab-populated city in Israel, with many of its Arab residents of Christian faith. Similar to the Arab-Christians that call Nazareth their home, the city's monasteries are home to a wide variety of clergymen, and monks whom come from all over the world to live, and worship in the Holy Land. With its rich and Christian history, the city of Nazareth is a distinguished destination and the perfect stop when touring on yourBible land tour to Israel.
Matthew 2:19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20 "Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."
John 1:45 Philip found Nathana-el, and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 Nathana-el said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
The Jordan River or River Jordan is a 156 mile long river flowing to the Dead Sea. Yardenit is perhaps one of the most important places during a Holy Land Israel tour for pilgrims. The Jordan River is where Jesus was Baptized by John the Baptist and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven in shape of a dove.
Here in Yardenit you will find Christian pilgrims on their Holy Land trips in inspirational baptismal ceremonies, and Christian believers touching the waters of the river and in prayer. The baptismal site is on the banks of the Jordan River surrounded by majestic eucalyptus trees, and a beautiful river flora.
Besides the importance of being the traditional baptizing place for Jesus, the Jordan River is mentioned several times throughout the Bible in the New Testament, with the ministries and teachings of John the Baptists, as well as the prophets of Elijah and Elisha mentioned in the New Testament.
The Jordan River is mentioned as early as the Book of Genisis in the Old Testament where its beautiful vegetation and flora are tied together to those of the "Garden of God". When Jacob in the bible was renamed Israel at the river of Jabbok, it's a reference to the Jordan River. This important place in the bible is also mentioned in the book of Joshua, when the Jordan was parted for the Israelites to cross to the Promise Land, similar to the Red Sea partying when Moses freed the Israelites from the Pharaoh.
The region of the Galilee is a powerful and uplifting place to visit on a tour to the holy land for Christian pilgrims. It is where the slopes and hills of the Galilee reach down to the most famous lake in the Bible, the Sea of Galilee the largest fresh water lake in Israel.
Matthew writes 4:13, Jesus went from Nazareth, in the heart of Galilee, to Capernaum by the shore of the lake they called Genesaret. Here he gathered his first disciples - fisherman whom he found casting their nets from the shallows (Matt. 4:18). In the Galilee you will walk where Jesus walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in the very place where the disciples lived and worked as fisherman every day, and where you will see the Bible come to life.
On a tour to Israel, you can experience and understand why Jesus chose fishermen for his first apostles, "the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake" (Matt. 13:47). The Sea of Galilee was also the landscape setting for the feeding of the 5,000 (Matt. 15:32-37) with a few loaves and fishes. There are also revered testaments of miraculous fishing and catches at the Sea of Galilee, especially that in John 21, when Peter was recruited by Jesus (John 21:15-17).
When on a tour to Israel, sailing in the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake on Earth is very popular with tours. The lake is fed by underground springs, although its main source is the Jordan River where Jesus was later Baptized by John the Baptist at around age of 32, and it is in this very area around in the Galilee where he begins his ministry.
In the northern Galilee, hills and mountains raise up on either side of the valley highway that once led to the ancient kingdoms. Here you will come to Hazor, conquered by Joshua and created by Solomon. You will also find the Dan, where you can stand at the High Place that despite Jeroboam's efforts was no match for Jerusalem, and Caesarea at the headwaters of the Jordan, where Jesus asked his disciples "who do people say that I am?" (Mark 8:27).
On your tour to the Holy Land you will have the opportunity to visit one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in the lowest place on earth (417 meters below sea level) The Dead Sea. Due to the quantity of water that evaporates from the lake being greater than the water that flows into it on a daily basis, the Dead Sea has the highest concentration of salt in the world (340 grams per liter of water).
This lake gets its name the "Dead Sea" because of the waters high salt content prevents the existence of any life form in its waters. However it is this same salt, which provides world recognized therapeutic health benefits, and relief to many visitors who come to the Dead Sea to benefit from its healing properties. All this and floating on the Dead Sea on your Holy Land Tour is truly an experience you will never forget!
The Dead Sea is perhaps the largest and "the lowest spa in the world." The southern part of the lake is for salt industry, and in the north section of the lake you will find world class resort tourism facilities and therapeutic health industry promoted.
Besides floating on the Dead Sea it is very popular to cover yourself with the black mud, that hold high concentration of mineral deposits for therapeutic health. This provides the skin with nourishing minerals that are not found anywhere else in the world. If this were not sufficient, bromide in the air also promotes good health, thus making the Dead Sea truly a remarkable experience during your tour to Israel.
There are two important traditions related to Bethphage, a village at the time of Jesus on the eastern slope of Mount of Olives. This is the holy place where Jesus sent two of his disciples to fetch a colt and an ass that he would use for his entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10) , "saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me" (Matthew 21:2). Bethphage is also the site where Jesus met Martha, and after her sister Mary (John 11:17-34) upon his return from exile from Jordan to resurrectLazarus.
The Church of Bethphage, meaning "house of the early figs," was built by the Franciscans and contains a stone traditionally believed to be the one Jesus used to mount the donkey at the beginning of his procession into Jerusalem. This church built in 1883 commemorates the event of the fruitless fig tree- cursed by Jesus and withered away (Mark 11:12-14, Mark 11:20-25). In order to hide the true intent of the building to the Muslim authorities, the church was built as an ordinary fortified structure, therefore the church building is unusual to traditional structures in the Holy Land. The arch was later added in 1897, and its tower only in 1954. The entrance of Jesus with his disciples into Jerusalem, is commemorated on the church walls. Near the arch of the Church there is a stone that was discovered in 1876 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau, a French scholar and translator in diplomatic service in Jerusalem. This stone known today as the Stele of Bethphage, was decorated with paintings from the Crusader period describing the holy events which occurred in Bethphage- the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, disciples carrying the palm fronds, Jesus' meeting with Martha and Mary, and the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:38-44).
Christian pilgrims that travel to Israel during Easter will experience The Palm Sunday procession, an annual tradition that re-enacts Jesus' last entry into Jerusalem on the day before Easter, which usually starts out from the Bethphage Church.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the Virgin Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus escape from Palestine into Egypt out of fear from persecution of Herod the Great. The Holy Family traveled all the way to Assiut, and on their way back home spent several weeks in Old Cairo. Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church stand traditionally on the spot where the Holy Family rested at the end of their journey in Egypt. They may have even lived here while Joseph worked at the fortress.
The Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus (Abu Serga) is considered to be the oldest Christian church in Cairo. It is dedicated to the two Saints Sergius and Bacchus who served as soldiers in the Roman Army, and were devoted faithful followers of Jesus and refused to worship Roman idols. For their Christian faith, the two Saints suffered martyrdom in Syria in 296 during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maximinus. Their relics are partly kept in Abu Sarga and others are buried in Syria.
The church is of great historical importance since it's where many patriarchs of the Coptic Church were elected with the first Patriarch Isaac 681-692. From the 9th to the 12th century, several bishops were also consecrated in Abu Sarga until the 11th century. Even thou the church was restored several times (11th & 17th century, the last restoration was completed in 2000), it still preserves its Medieval beauty and charm. It is the episcopal church of Cairo, and it was the episcopal See of Masr (the district of Old Cairo) that replaced the former See of Babylon. Many bishops of the See were consecrated in the Church until the reign ofPatriarch Christodulus in 1047-1077.
The most interesting feature you'll find on our Christian Holy Land tour is the crypt where Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus are said to have rested. The crypt is 10 meters deep and, when Nile levels are high, is often flooded. Abu Sarga also once housed Egypt's oldest altar which was transferred to the Coptic Museum. When visiting this Holy site you can marvel at the roof of the church, it is said it was constructed in the shape of Noah's ark. The Church was built in the 4th century and was likely completed during the 5th century. After it was burned during the fire of Fustat during the reign of Marwan II around 750. There was a restoration in the 8th century, and has been rebuilt and restored constantly since medieval times; however, it is still considered to be a model of the early Coptic churches and a must Holy Land site to visit.
The Roman Catholic Church Ecce Homo Church meaning in Latin "Behold the man," is located in the heart of the historic Old City of Jerusalem on the famous Via Dolorosa. Thousands of Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land each year walk right beneath its arch, and not realize the remains from first-century Jerusalem. All Jerusalem renowned holy land sites are within easy walking distance and Ecce Homo itself is a location revered by Christians for its importance in the Passion of Jesus.
The church is today part of The Congregation of Notre Dame de Sion, and contains one arch of a Roman gateway, which crosses the Via Dolorosa walkway outside the church. The words in the scriptures Behold the Man, are attributed to Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of John (John19:5), when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ, bound and crowned with thorns, to a hostile crowd. The New Testament says that Jesus was dressed in fake royal attire to mock the claim that he was "King of the Jews" (Mark 15) (John 19).
Archaeologists believe the arch stood on a great plaza constructed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian when he rebuilt Jerusalem in AD 135, nearly a century after Jesus was crucified. But many consider that it was more likely that Pilate judged Jesus at Herod the Great's palace, on the site of the modern Citadel inside the Jaffa Gate.
The Church and Congregation of Notre Dame de Sion, offers hospitality to all and pride themselves in receiving Holy Land toursand guests from all over the world, as Christian pilgrim groups or individuals. The simple Basilica is housed within the complex and visitors are at liberty to enter for reflection and prayer.
Mount Tabor located in lower Galilee and sitting at the eastern end of the Jazreel Valley is a holy land destination famous with Christians as the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Rising 1,843 feet high it is referred in the Scriptures as a symbol of majesty and greatness. Jeremiah 46:18-19 "one will come who is like Tabor among the mountains."
Early Christianity and tradition believed that the Transfiguration took place on Mount Tabor. Among believers this included Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius, and Saint Jerome. Others were uncertain of the location due to different interpretations of the scriptureMatthew 17:1, "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves." instead being misinterpreted as "by itself."
The Transfiguration of Jesus is mentioned in the New Testament in which Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory upon a mountain. The Gospels (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36) describe it, and 2 Peter 1:16-18 refers to it.
In these accounts, Jesus and three of his apostles, Peter, James and John, go to the Mount of Transfiguration. On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called by the voice of God from the sky, "Son" as he also referred to him as son in the Baptism of Jesus in theJordan River. In Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth. Mount Tabor is also the location where the Israelite tribes battle on Mount Tabor in the days of Deborah (Judges 4-6) with the Lord's intervention on behalf of the Israelites in a form of rainstorm. Led by Barak the Israelites charged with 10,000 men against the army of Jabin commanded by Sisera in the mid 12th century BCE.
Today you'll find the Basilica of Transfiguration, part of a Franciscan monastery complex completed in 1924 among the three chapels atop of Mount Tabor commemorating the Transfiguration. While it's not a normal tour visit during an Israel tour, many Christian pilgrims traveling to Israel find their way up the Mountain on private tours to the Holy Land. Instead on regular tours you'll view and admire Mount Tabor during a scenic drive through the valley, and you can count on your Israel tour guide to point out Mount Tabor during your trip.
In the foot of Mount of Olives in Jerusalem you'll find the Crusader church marked to be the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The cave church provides a wonderful atmosphere for deep spirituality during your Holy Land Jerusalem trip, with it's carved out tomb in the church center and adorned with beautiful hanging lamps. The Tomb of the Virgin Mary, also Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary, is a traditional Holy Land site of Eastern Christianitywhom hold the belief that the Virgin Mary died a natural human death; and that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day, at which time she was taken up, soul and body, into heaven. Her tomb, according to this teaching, was found empty on the third day. Roman Catholic hold the belief that Mary was assumed into heaven in bodily form, the Assumption; the question of whether or not Mary actually underwent physical death remains open in the Catholic view.
The Scriptures provide no information about the end of Mary's life or the place of burial, but there are as many as 50 early Biblical apocrypha about Mary's final fate at time of her resting. Several places have claimed the right of where Mary's death occurred, including as far away in Ephesus, Turkey however claims here have been strongly disputed since the 5th century.
The tomb of Christ at the Holy Sepulchre was carved out by quarrying out surrounding rock by Emperor Constantine, and a similar quarrying process was made at the Tomb of the Virgin Mary at the Mount of Olives in 455. The first mention of the Tomb was written around the 6th century. In commemorating Mary's death a round church was built above the tomb by Maurice Tiberius (582-602), and after destroyed by the Persians in 614.
The church was then reconstructed after the visit of the Holy Land pilgrim Arculf in 680. He provided historical accounts of the holy land in De Locis Sanctis including his description of Mary's Tomb that the church had two levels, both being round with the upper level having 4 altars, the lower level with an east altar and the tomb of Mary on its right. A 9th-century church record records that the church was staffed by 34 members of religious order.
At the time of the Crusaders arrival to the Holy Land, all they found was rubble. The Crusaders reconstructed the church in 1130 along with a Benedictine monastery making the complex of the Abbey Church of St. Mary of Jehoshaphat. Yet shortly after in 1187, Saladin destroyed most of the upper church and quarried the stones to repair the city walls for fortification, while leaving the lower level completely untouched. The church was taken over by Franciscans after the Crusaders left, and has since been shared by many religious factions and nationalities, and the tomb location since owned by the Greek Orthodox Church, while the grotto of Gethsemane has remained in the possession of Franciscans.
Today on an Israel tour you'll find steps from the street descend into a square shape courtyard containing the upper church, with an 1130 a.c. portal, and eight marble columns supporting its pointed arch. In the church leading down a staircase of 47 steps you'll find the tomb of Queen Melisende, placed here on her death in 1161. The stairs and walls, and windows of this section were made in the 12th century, and at the bottom of the stairs is the 5th century Byzantine crypt, with original Byzantine masonry. This lower section of the church provides a feel of great antiquity with blackened walls from smoke of years of burning lanterns, and opulently decorated with Christian icons.
The tomb of Mary here is very similar to Jesus at the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Mary's tomb is marked by a small square chapel with an altar inside the tomb concealing the remains of a bench tomb which could date back to the 1st century. An alter to the west and a longer rock alter facing the east marks Mary's tomb. While Mary's tomb is not a popular Holy Land tour site for Western Christians, it is still worth the effort to try and visit this iconic site dedicated to the remembrance of the mother of God.
With a prominent location on Mount Zion, the monastery Dormition Abbey commemorates the memory of Virgin Mary in the traditional place of her death. The name of Dormition Abbey means "Eternal sleep," and on your Christian Holy Land Tour of Jerusalem you'll easily distinguish the monasteries unique beautiful structure. The complex is nearly one hundred years old built over stone ruins and known to be in the general area frequented by the disciples and Jesus during his last days inJerusalem. Nearby on your Holy Land Tour to Israel you'll also find the room of the Last Supper, and the Tomb of King David.
The monks provide great attention and care for Holy Land pilgrims visiting the monastery, it is after all one of the most important shrines in the Holy Land, the remembrance of Mary, the Mother of God, causes believers from all over the world to visit the Church. The Dormition Abby is happy to offer groups of Christian pilgrims the possibility of celebrating the Eucharist in the Church. This is usually in the choir area of the upper Church, where the monastic family celebrates its divine worship. Besides celebrating the Eucharist, the monks have lived at the Abby for over 100 years, offering great experiences of the Holy Land, living in the present, the monks are also available for group discussions and conferences. It is important to contact the monastery in advance, so they make this a possibility during your Christian Holy Land group tour.
The Dormition Basilica is relatively young with barely 100 years of history. However it stands on old ruins and oral testimonies of Christian belief. When the room of the Last Supper was destroyed and lost during the Roman conquest in 70 A.D., a Jewish-Christian synogogue was built on Mount Zion, later named as the "Church of the Apostles." In the 4th century it was renovated and became a small church. At the beginning of the 5th century a large Byzantine basilica was constructed in its place. This was also destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614. Only in the 12th century was a new church built by the crusaders, larger than all its predecessors and called "Santa Maria in Monte Sion." However, when the Muslims retook the city from the crusaders in 1187, many traces of the brief Christian period were once more destroyed. The stone remains of Santa Maria are found today only in the area of the present day Room of the Last Supper and deep in the ground beneath the monastery and the church.
At the end of the nineteenth century, when Germans purchased the plot of land on Mount Zion, it was still a field of rubble behind which arose the Prophet David complex. On October 7 the corner stone was laid down for construction of the Dormition Abbey, and in April 2010 the monks celebrated it's 100th birthday. During the centuries, the local Christians have preserved the memory of two stones that they honored as stones from the house where Mary lived and died. Both these stones have found a place on the ground floor on the outer side of the tower, where even now holy land pilgrims come to pray
The Church of All Nations also known as the Basilica of the Agony for its official name is a Roman Catholic Church which will be visited during our Holy Land trip located on the Mount of Olives, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. The church enshrines a section of bedrock where is said Jesus prayed before his arrest (Mark 14:32-42).
From the bible we read; Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:36-39.
The Basilica of Agony which stands today was built from 1919-24 with funding from 12 different nations, thus the name "the Church of All Nations." The church has a rich history including being built on the foundation of two ancient churches including a 4th century Byzantine basilica which was destroyed by en earthquake in 746, and atop a 12th-century chapel built by theCrusaders, and later abandoned in 1345.
The Basilica is run by the Franciscan order, but an open altar located in the gardens of the church is used by many Christian denominations including followers who are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Protestant, Lutheran,Evangelical, Anglican, and any other version of Christianity or Orthodoxy that is culturally unique to any particular nation.
One of the interesting features of the church are the respective coat-of-arms of each donating country incorporated into the glass of the ceiling, each in a small dome. The countries honored in its contributions are; starting from the left side, beginning with the apse: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico; in the middle of the Basilica you will see: Italy, France, Spain and the United Kingdom, and to the right: Belgium, Canada, Germany, and the United States. The mosaics in the apses were donated by Ireland, Hungary, and Poland. The crown around the bedrock was a gift of Australia.
The facade of the Basilica is supported by a row of large columns set below a stunning-modern mosaic depicting Jesus as mediator-connection between God and man. The designer of the facade mosaic and the architect of the church was ProfessorGiulio Bargellini. The Basilica's three aisles culminate in 3 apses at the east end, which are decorated with mosaics depicting biblical events in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the center, the high altar overlooks a large slab of rock, which is said to be the very rock on which Jesus prayed in agony on the night of his betrayal by Judas. The Church of All Nations is a powerful and important place to visit during your Christian Holy Land tour, and one of great interest from all Christian denominations during Christian pilgrimages to Israel.
The Pool of Bethesda is a pool of water located in today's Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem that you will visit during your tour to the Holy Land, on the path of the Beth Zeta Valley, and it is celebrated as the place Jesus performed one of his most famous miracles, the healing of the paralytic at the Bethesda Pool (John 5:2-9). The Gospel of John describes such a pool in Jerusalem, while the actual location and pool is argued among scholars, the Bethesda Pool was discovered in the 19th century fitting the description in John's Gospel, and also recently the Pool of Siloamwas discovered in 2005. This second pool is also mentioned in the Gospel of John, and is where Jesus healed the blind man. The Siloam Pool has been accurately identified as a mikveh, or ritual pool, and it appears by most scholars that the Bethesda Pool was also a mikveh.
The name of the pool in Hebrew language, beth hesda, means either house of mercy or house of grace however the word could also mean 'shame, disgrace' due to a double meaning in the Hebrew language. This dual meaning may have been given intentionally since the location was seen both as a place of disgrace due to invalids and sick being in the site, and a place of grace, because of miracles and healing. The Pool of Bethesda has been an area of controversy, and according to the Gospel of John, Bethesda was a swimming bath with five porticos, which many believed was only a literary creation, however the archaeological discovery proved beyond doubt that the description of the Gospel was not a creation, and instead an accurate description of the location near the Sheep Gate, and details of the five porticos pool, with rushing water. All the details uncovered of the pool were corroborated through literary and archaeological evidence affirming the historical accuracy of the Gospel of John.
John the Apostle describes the porticos as a place that large groups of infirm people came for cures. The biblical Gospel continues by describing a Shabbat visit to the pool by Jesus, this is when he heals a bedridden man who could not make it into the pool in time while the water stirred up, so Jesus instead cures him immediately, and he is able to get up and walk. Jesus demonstrates that it is not the pool or the stirring water that heals, instead in is Jesus himself who heals.
The Gospel story of Jesus in Bethesda also describes how many people made pilgrimages to the healing pools. It was believed that the first person whom entered the waters when the water stirred would be healed, and the man whom Jesus healed would never make it in to the waters in time. This is when Jesus immediately heals the man. The story also gives in insight that the pools had a long history of healing, including after with Roman medicinal baths constructed centuries after the miracle of Jesus. After when Christians governed Jerusalem during the Byzantine era, St. Anne Church was constructed to commemorate the site of the miracle, which now covers the Bethsda Pool complex.
The site of Bethsda Pool is also believed to be the location of the grotto where Saint Mary mother of Jesus was born. You'll visit this special place on day 7 of our Holy Land tour in Jerusalem.
The Cenacle, also better known as the Upper Room is traditionally the site of The Last Supper that you will visit during yourHoly Land Israel trip. This two-story room in Jerusalem commemorates the Last Supper shared by Jesus, as well as several other events described in the New Testament took place such as; the Washing of the Feet, the resurrection appearance of Jesus, the gathering of the disciples after the Ascension of Jesus, election of Saint Matthias as apostle, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on Pentecost. The room is also directly above the Tomb of David and near to Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion.
The present room of the Last Supper and location of the Pentecost can not be this room built only in the 12th century. Yet the present location that could be near the original place mentioned in the Gospels, has provided a place to commemorate the scriptures for thousands of pilgrims whom have traveled to the Holy Land of Israel for centuries.
Some believe that the "little Church of God" mentioned by Epiphanius of Salamis on Mount Zion was on this very site, which perhaps a wealthy Christian of this time opened his home to be used as a church. Later on the 4th century after Christian persecution ended, a Church was constructed here on Mount Zion, at which point it was known as "the Upper Church of the Apostles," named after the occurrence of the Pentecost, the receiving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13, 2:1).
Later in the 5th century the churched was renamed to "Zion, Mother of all the Churches," and it was around this period that it was traditionally identified as the site of the Last Supper. The natural conclusion seems to come about that since both the Pentecost and Last Supper occurred in the same location, the two events must have been in the same room.
The present church standing today and the Upper room pilgrim's visit today on holy land tours was built by the Crusaders in the 12th Century as part of the Church of St. Mary of Zion, having found the Byzantine church in ruins in 614, and in 965 from twoPersian attacks. After this time the Crusader church became a glorious pilgrim Jerusalem site, but it fell in ruins yet again after the Crusaders were defeated, only to have the remains pillaged for building materials.
The site was reconstructed again and restored by Franciscans in the fourteen century and used as a Franciscan monastery until 1552, and even though in 1524 the Ottoman Empire transformed the room in to a mosque, they were more concerned with the Tomb of King David, which to Muslim tradition is the "Prophet David," then the Upper Room. Today the site is no longer a mosque and the building of the Crusaders remains.
You'll find on your holy land tour in Israel an attractive Last Supper Room with classic Crusader arches and pillars, and a mostly empty room. There are still remnants of the 14th century paint on the wall inside to the right of the room, the chamber with it's mosque trappings including restored stained-glass Ottoman windows with Arabic inscriptions and the ornate mihrab (an alcove indicating the direction of Mecca). There is also two Arabic plaques in the wall and a Levantine dome.
Stairs in the south-west end corner of the room lead down to the Tomb of King David. A dome above the stairs is supported by marble columns with adorned pelicans pecking their parent's breast, a symbol of sacrifice and charity in Christianity. Stairs by the minaret lead-up to the roof top, from where there are beautiful views to the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem.
Your tour to Israel with professional guide will include a visit to the site of the Rejection of Jesus described in Luke: 4:29-30 to Mount Precipice, also known as Mount of Precipitation, and Mount of Leap- His own people of Nazareth, not accepting Jesus as the Messiah "mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill," "they intended to push him over the cliff," but "he passed through the midst of them and went away." According to the Gospels (Mark 6:1-6, Matthew 13:54-58, Luke 4:16-30), Jesus is rejected by his own people in Nazareth after he returns to his home town. This occurs after his first set of teachings and before John the Baptist is executed. It's on a Sabbath, Jesus is described as entering the synagogue and teaching, reading of scriptures, and claiming he was the son of God fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2. Reading this well known passage of Isaiah, many common people during Jesus life time were tired of poverty and the brutal Roman empire ruling Israel, they looked for the day God would make things good for the Israelites, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. This is what the Nazarenes hoped of the Messiah. But the passage of Isaiah asks people to think in grand terms. Jesus reading stops and says the promise of the prophet is being fulfilled before their eyes. What disappointment to the people, thinking this son of Joseph, a simple carpenter will save us they must have asked. Thinking of great apocalyptic wars, instead a ordinary man as described in Matthew and Mark, the crowd is also described as referring to Jesus as being the brother of James, Simon, Joseph, and Judas (in Mark they also write of, but do not name, Jesus's sisters) in a way suggesting that the crowd sees them as just ordinary common people.
The mount has been a holy land tour pilgrimage to thousands of Christians including Pope Benedictus XVI, which in 2009 gave a mass on the mountain, during his visit to Israel. More then 40,000 believers participated in the Catholic mass. On your tour to Israel, request for special time with your group to take time for prayer and readings from the bible.
The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem is an alternate location of prayer and reflection, believed by some to be a possible location of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Here you can also see a rock formation that perhaps is the one mentioned in the bible as Golgotha or also known as "Calvary." No matter the exact place of these events in Jerusalem both the Church of the Holy Sepluchre, as well as the Garden Tomb, provide for a beautiful yet different holy land tour experience to read from the Gospel, and reflect about the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
The Garden Tomb is a quiet beautiful place ideal for prayer in a garden setting. There are places to sit and rest along the Garden, drinking water and pleasant tourist facilities, including provision for the disabled with very good wheelchair access along the entire grounds. The Garden Tomb also offers a gift shop with nice souvenirs to bring back from your Christian holy land tour of Israel.
The Israeli Tour Guides' Association recently named the Garden Tomb as a one of the great Christian tour site in Israel, and among a popular stop during our escorted tours of Jerusalem.
Christian pilgrims on a Holy Land tour to Israel are amazed when they learn that the gnarled olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are most likely been young saplings when Jesus came and prayed here with his disciples on that fateful night after the Last Supper (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32; John 18:1). In the New Testament the Garden of Gethsemane is the place that Jesus and his disciples customarily visited, which allowed Judas to find him on the night of his arrest, and according to Luke 22:43-44, Jesus' anguish in Gethsemane was so deep that "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Today when traveling to the Holy Land, the ancient trees are surrounded by manicured flower beds; the time Jesus' walked these lands there would have been an olive grove where an olive oil-press - gethsemane in the Greek language - would have been located.
Adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane is the beautiful Church of All Nations Catholic church build in 1920's with a marvelous detailed mosaics: Jesus praying alone (Mark 14:35-36); Judas' betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 26:48); the cutting off of the ear of the High Priest's servant (Mark 14:47).
Across the rode is a less popular grove, where arrangements can be sometimes made for visitors to spend more quiet and private time for prayer.
The Mount of Olives holds a special place in the heart of Christians and a must visit when on a tour to the Holy Land, located just east of Jerusalem's Old City and separating it from the Judean Desert. The Mount of Olives is a prominent site mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, first as King David's escape route during the rebellion of his son Absalom, then later in the prophets, but it is most known and referred in the New Testament, where Jesus' taught his pupils, and where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and where Jesus says "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:36-39).
At the foot of the mountain, stands the Church of all Nations, and the Gardens of Gethsemane, where you will also find the Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene, and to the north you will find a compound of churches including the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Basilica Eleona, and the convent of Pater Noster, best known for it's extensive and largest cemetery facing Jerusalem along the western slopes, and believed to be the place from which God will begin to redeem the dead when the Messiah returns.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is just one of many Christian sites you will be visiting during your Holy Land Tour, this church described by many as being very different then your typical church back home, and the main reason why it is usually a very nice experience to the visitor to the holy land. It is here where traditionally Orthodox and Catholic Christians celebrate and mark the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, Christian Evangelicals and other denominations explore the world of "historic churches," described by many scholars. Six denominations in and around the cavernous house of worship are Christianity's most ancient. Including the less known church of the Ethiopians, whom trace their origins to Christianity back to Philip's conversion on the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-34).
While many Christians celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection at the Garden Tomb, where a tomb is still present in it's garden, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a very important visit to understand and learn about contemporary Christianity and it's history which is both long and very complex. Experience the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea on your tour to Israel, located in the original second temple cave tomb, and the tomb of Jesus, which was destroyed in 1009 by Muslim Caliph Hakim, this area was covered up by the Edicule, a building completed in the Rotunda by the Russian Orthodox in the 19th century which at that time were a major force in the country and church.
This church is known to be one of the most complicated buildings in existence. The foundation and first structure was in fact a pagan shrine built in the 2nd century by the emperor Hadrian, using stones from the ruined Temple to show Jews and Christians that the Roman empire was in charge of the country. Later Constantine the Great built the first church in the 4th century, extending across a couple of blocks in today's Old City Christian Quarters.
At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre you can descend a flight of stairs which walls are decorated by crosses carved by hundreds of pilgrims over decades and hundreds of years. In the ground level is the Armenian chapel, where it is said that Queen Helene found the cross in a stone quarry. The main focus from the main floor is the Edicule, where many pilgrims say they experience elevated spirituality from moments spent in the small room marking the traditional tomb.
Near to the Edicule, is a large stone slab where traditionally it is said that the body of Jesus was prepared for his burial, and where today you will see Orthodox and Catholic Christians in prayer. Continue up a steep flight of stairs, in a beautiful decorated room with a Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic altar where the site of the crucifixion is traditionally marked. Here you can kneel and touch the very rock which is held sacred, and move many Christians in great emotion.
As long as Christian pilgrims have been traveling and visiting the Holy City of Jerusalem, they have been walking where Jesus walked along the last path on the "Via Dolorosa," and for the last 1,000 years it is the exact path that is walked today in the Old City. With time, sacred past stories became revered landmarks - known today as the Stations of the Cross.
In the Old City a new experience, you will find the streets an organized chaos of noise - with store owners and venders competing for your attention calling out their prices and displaying their goods on your travel tour to the holy land. Narrow stone roads and stone building on each side, make this a unique experience of different smells, colors, and sounds. Many Christian tourists are many times surprised to learn that this is nothing new, and it is in fact exactly what Jesus would have experienced when walking these streets on any given Friday.
It was here in the Via Dolorosa on Passover week; where the Romans forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross (Mark 15:21). There are fourteen traditional stations marked. The first is the Praetorium, where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus and Jesus took up the cross (Mark 15:15), and where now you will find a convent. In the basement you will find flagstones, known as Gabata (John 19:13), stone pavements. Beneath this pavement is a large water cistern built by Herod the Great, which could have quenched the thirsty Roman soldiers who taunted Jesus (Matt. 27: 27-31).
Christian visitors on their holy land tours find the Stations of the Cross only modestly marked. Continuing after the Praetorium you will find station three, where Jesus fell with his cross; which mentioned in the new testament this recurred two more times. In the fourth station is where Simon takes up the cross. At every station and it's individual story; Jesus meets mary and a women of Jerusalem whom wipes the sweat of Jesus face, Jesus speaks of this women from Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-30), and on to the last stations the crucifixion and burial, located in the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Via Dolorosa provides a unique atmosphere and experience in Old Jerusalem, and it's always a popular visit on your holy land tour.
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!' 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" 32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.
Perched on top of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Haifa is Israel's third largest city. It has Israel's largest port, thriving industries, institutions of higher learning and many interesting museums. Haifa is especially well-known for the harmonious interaction among the different faiths, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and is World Center of the Bahai Faith.
Haifa is circled by natural sites- mountains and sea, and the city offers and interesting mix of old districts- churches and mosques, as well as modern neighborhoods. This unique multi-faceted city provides tourist many wonderful places to visit. The bustling sea-port area draws merchants, as well as tourist eager to shop. The beautiful beaches are filled with people during the summer. In addition, because of their excellent conditions, the beaches host many of Israel top water sports and events including sailing competitions.
The city is home to the 3-largest religions in the world, as well as other minority faiths, becoming a symbol of tolerance and co-existence. Nearly ten percent of the population is Arab ( Muslim and Christian), residing mostly in Khalisa, Abas, and popular with tourist Wadi Nisnas- with charming streets, and host to the popular "Holiday of Holidays" lifestyle festival.
Christianity has strongly influenced the city, you'll find many Christian churches and places; The Sacre Coeur Catholic School on Allenby, with it's beautiful garden and impressive statues of Saint Mary. A Maronite church situated next to Kikar Paris or "Paris Square" commemorating the Prophet Elijah, and nearby Christian's traveling to the holyland can visit Saint Mary's Greek Orthodox Parish Church. Christians consider the top of Carmel, a holy site, and where you'll find the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery, which contains a Baroque-style-church, and a cave considered by Christian-tradition as the site of the grave of the Prophet Elijah. The monastery also houses a small museum dedicated to the Prophet.
Yet another religious community home to Haifa is the Ahmadi Muslim community who live in Haifa's Kababir neighborhood- an Indian sect of Islam, since the late 19th century, promoting peace among nations and religious tolerance. Their large mosque also houses an exhibit on their rich history in addition to the large prayer hall.
Haifa's fame of religious tolerance is also embraced by the Bahai Faith, their religion World Center is located in Haifa- with their amazing Bahai gardens; an impressive garden which extends up the slope of Carmel, with a gold-domed Shrine of the Bab, burial tomb of Bab, atop the slope. Visitors traveling on holy land Israel tours often stop at the gardens to enjoy the peaceful view of the bay and gardens, which are illuminated during evenings with special lighting.
At the foot of the Gardens you'll find the quaint German Colony, founded in the 19th century by German Templars whom immigrated to establish a German Christian community in the Holyland. Many residents homes have been so welled preserved that tourist traveling to the old community can still see the names of the original home-residents etched on it's entrances and stone walls. The German colony is a popular attraction, and its worthwhile visiting it's colorful walkways and streets during a trip to Israel.
Haifa also offers many cultural activities and museums including: the Dagon Grain Silo, the National Museum of Science and Technology, the National Maritime Museum, the Haifa Museum of Art, the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, the Railway Museum, the Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum, and the Israel Oil Industry Museum.
The city is also home to the annual Haifa Film Festival honoring high quality local and international films. Throughout Haifa are hundreds of inspiring sites and activities offering amazing and charming experiences waiting to be discovered during a tour to Israel.
The archeological site of Caesarea Philippi is situated in Banias, today a Natural Reserve in Northern Israel. At the time of Jesus it was a city of Greek-Roman culture known for worship of false gods. The city had been known as Banias, the name honoring the Greek god Pan - a half-man, half-goat deity depicted most of the time playing a flute. Here in this Holy Land destination is where Jesus proclaimed he would establish his church giving authority to the apostle Simon.
When Jesus asked, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Simon inspired by the holy spirit answered "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." After hearing this Jesus declared "and I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:13-20)
Located 25 mi north of the Sea of Galilee, the area of Caesarea Philippi was the northern most Jesus took his disciples. After Jesus crucifixion, the region was ruled by Philip, the son of King Herod the Great, and was renamed Caesarea. To distinguish it from the coastal Caesarea Maritima, it became known as Caesarea Philippi. The city had been constructed near the Banias spring, which runs down a massive rock-face, and continues down into one of the streams that feed the Jordan River.
Because Jesus taught in parables and liked to use grand locations in the Holy Land, it's not hard to imagine Jesus standing by the rocky click at the Banias spring saying to Peter that he would be the "rock of my church" to build his church.
The city mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and Mark is now nearly uninhabited, however it is an archaeological site in theGolan Heights and today a natural reserved. It remains an important Holy Land pilgrimage destination because of what took place in the Gospel. The region of Banias continues to be a regular Holy Land tour stop, and a wonderful experience to Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land.
A holy land travel trip to Israel is not complete unless you visit Jerusalem, known as the city chosen by God, and by the Israeli's as the Golden City. Enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the city from the Mount of Olives, where the Lord ascended into heaven. Walk the stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa, Visit the Holy Sepulchre, learn about the Israeli government in the Knesset, and experience the Memorial to the Holocaust. Jerusalem is alive with numerous famous landmarks within its ancient walls of Jerusalem. The stunning Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount dominates the view of Jerusalem, it is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. It is believed by all three of the world's main religions that the Rock is where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son to God in the founding act of Monotheism. Experience the Western Wall the remains of the temple of Solomon that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, and the most important place of worship for the Jews, making it a very important location during the time of Jesus.
One of the most important Christian sites you will visit during your holy land tour in Jerusalem is Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built where traditionally it's believed to be where Jesus is said to have been executed on the cross and buried, a reminder of faith for all Christians whom visit this holy site. Here you will find over thirty chapels built in the general area of The Holy Sepulchre, including an Armenian, Catholic, Coptic, Ethopian, Greek, and Russian priest walking in and around the Church.
Just about every step you take around Jerusalem will remind you of the enormous effect it has in Christianity and in the history of the world, and as the Bible predicts will have a crucial role in the future as well. Here in the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem experience holy spiritual places including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, St. Anne Church, and the Pool of Bethesda, Mt. Zion, King David Tomb and the Garden Tomb among many.
Today Eilat, the southernmost city in Israel, is famous for beaches, five star resorts, and the preferred beach destination and holiday paradise town of Israeli's and many European's in and around Europe. Eilat lives by the rhythm of the sun, in the desert, the sea and the nature around the Red Sea, and is also recommended for a tour extension for time of leisure whentraveling on a holy land tour.
The city of Eilat is a new city just established only in 1950, yet it has been a strategically significant area in history for many periods and as a important port - starting in the days of King Solomon (whom built a fleet of war ships which he sent to Ophir), as well as through the Nabataeans, Romans, Arabs, and Crusaders, all whom have ruled the Land of Israel during it's Biblical and human history.
In the winter and colder months it attracts tourists from Europe who prefer holidays in a warmer and more pleasant climate then their ice and snow covered countries, while Israelis flock to the Red Sea beaches in the summer. The attraction of this city's charm is its special location in the northern end of the Bay of Eilat. The combination of a hot climate, a tropical sea, and beautiful backgrounds of the mountains around Eilat has turned it into a tourist oasis all the year round.
One of the major attractions in Eilat is the bay in the Red Sea which allows developed water sports, and some of the best diving around the world with majestic Coral Reserves that support an abundant tropical sea life. Within the grounds of the reserve is the Underwater Observatory, with a marine museum that shows collections of fascinating sea animals. Nearby from the observatory is the popular Dolphin Reef with its resident school of dolphins.
While not all Christian Holy Land tours offer Eilat within their itineraries, it's a popular tour extension after a week of busy touring for rest and relaxation, as well as a main launching gateway for tour excursions in to Petra Jordan. Eilat offers many restaurants that suit all tastes, as well as cafes, clubs, colorful shops and a popular promenade which has a vibrant bazaar (market) during the summer months. There are additional attractions for the family, such as an amusement park, a new "Kings City" (a high tech theme park based on the Bible). Eilat also has IMAX 3D theatre offering an incredible visual experience.
Eilat is also know for its incredible local mountains landscape, and picturesque arid desert that provides many beauty spots and archaelogical and historical sites, which also make a great area for special holy land trips, that include camel treks, jeep off road tours, and hiking tours.
The many natural wonders and attractions of this area, the inviting beaches, crystal seas and sunny climate, make Eilat a choice holiday destination for travelers from all over the world.