she would become the Mother of God.
The site of the present Cathedral has been celebrated as the
location of the Annunciation, since the 4th century A.D. and numerous
churches and their successor churches have celebrated the location. The shrine may have reached
the apex of its historic grandeur in the form of church built by the Crusader Tancred, Prince of the Northern Territories
in the early 12th century. The Crusader Church,
reputed to be the largest built by the Crusaders in the Holy Lands, was
damaged during an earthquake and was never fully rebuilt, as the Crusaders were expelled
from the Holy Lands before the restoration was complete.
The next church to mark the site was constructed in the19th century, but torn down to make way for
the present massive Basilica , which was dedicated by Pope Paul VI in 1969.
See the official
website of the Basilica for more details on visiting. The
highlight of a visit is the Grotto of the Annunciation, although the
Archaeological Museum is of some interest.
Bethlehem is under the control of the Palestinian Authority
and entering the town is at the discretion of the Palestinian Authority.
Church of the Nativity contains the underground Grotto of the Nativity where
many believe Christ was born. The exact spot is marked on the floor
with a silver star. Across the room
is the Chapel of the Manger. The Grotto area is compact and
often warm and humid due to the crowds.
The original church was built following the the instruction
of Constantine 1 (4th century) at the request of his mother Helena who had determined that this
was the site of Christ’s birth. The church was rebuilt by Justinian
(6th century) and parts date from the time of the Crusaders in the 11th
The present Church is decorated in the style
common to Orthodox churches. The Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian
Apostolic religions are responsible for the upkeep and management of the
facility and their inability to agree on maintenance is a primary factor in
the poor condition of the building. Worse yet, the clerics who are
responsible for maintaining the building often clash with each other, as
Along the route to the church, there are a number of shops, many selling
hand crafted religious items and these shops are great places to buy a gift for those
interested in the religious aspects of your journey to the Holy Lands.
Tiberias is a flourishing tourist center famous for its
hotels, spas, tombs of the Jewish sages and numerous lunch spots along that
lake that feature the "type" fish that Christ fed to the thousands (as
well as a local delicacy known as the St. Peter’s fish). Tiberias,
which dates from the time of Christ, became an important religious center
for the followers of Judaism, especially after the Jews were expelled from
Jerusalem in the 2nd century. The city became a Christian outpost in the Holy Lands
during the Crusades (the 11th and 12th centuries).
– “the Town of Jesus”, where Jesus is thought to have met and converted many of the
Apostles, is located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There are
several attractions of interest in Capernaum that attract Christian
visitors on pilgrimage.
The Franciscans order acquired the ruins of the town near the end of the 19th century and
today the site is an open-air museum. St. Peter’s Church (a massive
modern concrete structure is cantilevered over ruins believed to be
the former home of Saint Peter. In addition, there is a partially reconstructed synagogue
where it is believed the Christ once taught.
a location near Capernaum where many believe that Christ fed a crowd of five-thousand with
five loaves of bread and and two fish.
Beatitudes – a lovely grass covered hill near Capernaum
that many believe was the location at which Christ gave the Sermon of the
Mount. A modest Catholic chapel, built in the last century, crowns the
hill. Many scholars have debated the locations and events in
Christ's life and it may be that their true position is lost in the fog of
history. However, many Christians celebrate these locations and crowds
are always visible.
The Gospel Trail and the Jesus Trail
In January 2011, the Israel Tourism Ministry opened a hiking trail that
is approximately forty miles in length and thought to follow the routes used
by Christ once he departed Nazareth to visit other locations in the Galilee.
You can find more details about the Gospel Trail at the Tourism
Go Israel. The page includes links to a handbook and map for traveling the Gospel
You might be interested in finding out about the
Jesus Trail, a public effort that predated the Gospel Trail and one that
is regarded as authentic and reputable. The Jesus Trail is a
commercial effort and offers tour packages, as well as a helpful guidebook
that is regarded as the best source for a walking tour of this area.
Next - click to read about the the best
archaeological sites in Israel
Or - explore our menu on the right to find other
types of sightseeing in Israel.
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