Christian visitors to Israel often concentrate on the Christian
pilgrimage sites within the city of Jerusalem.
This may be where Jesus lived and died but there are many interesting
Christian sites in Israel outside of Jerusalem.
Starting with Nazareth, in northern Israel, where the angel Gabriel
appeared to Mary to tell her of her eminent pregnancy with the future son of God.
This is also where Mary and Joseph lived and brought up Jesus.
In Nazareth you can see the holy family's former home and Joseph's
carpentry workshop. Reaching Nazareth is possible by rental car, public bus or by taking
an organized one day tour.
A journey to the Christian sites in northern Israel will take you past
Mount Tabor where the miracle of the transfiguration took place. You will also pass by
Megiddo where many ancient battles were fought and where it is believed that the final
Armageddon will occur.
While in the north you can see the towns in the Galilee where Jesus
spent time during his ministry. These towns include Capernaum where Christ lived and
preached; Tabgha where he performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and
fish and Tiberius, a vibrant city on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, which Jesus would
most likely have visited.
Close by is also the site where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the
These were the sites that early Christian pilgrims first visited in
the 4th century. Along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, also in the north, you can visit
the site where Jesus was baptized by John. It is possible for Christians to get baptized
here at the same place along the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized.
On your trip to or from the north you will inevitably pass by Haifa,
Israel's large port city.
Haifa is built on and around Mount Carmel; where the Profit Elijah is
thought to have resided, in a cave.
Many of the tours which travel north stop by the site thought to have
been Elijah's cave. Again these sites can be accessed by rental car or by an organized
tour but visiting these Christian sites will be a little more difficult by public
Moving south of Jerusalem you have the birth place of Christ in
Bethlehem, which is across the Palestinian border.
The crossing is not that difficult to navigate and many tour buses and
even independent travelers make the journey daily. In fact it is only about half an hour
from Jerusalem to the boarder.
Once in Bethlehem visitors can see the grotto within the Church of the
Nativity where Jesus was born and Manger Square.
If you are lucky enough to be in Israel at Christmas time you can
attend the Christmas Midnight Mass held here on Christmas Eve.
Close to Bethlehem, and usually included in organized tours is Jericho
and the Mount of Temptation where the devil tempted Jesus.
Israel has much more to offer but if your time is limited and you want
to follow in the footsteps of Jesus these are the essential Christian pilgrimage sites
outside of Jerusalem.
Using either one day tours in Israel, or a rented vehicle, you should
include them in your Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
By Petal Mashraki.
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