Must-See Holy Sites in Israel and the West Bank

Temple Mount is one of holy sites in Jerusalem

A complete guide to popular holy sites in Israel and the West Bank.

Traveling Israel and the West Bank, but not visiting religious places of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, means not trying to understand the cultures and beliefs of people inhabiting this area and far. 

Religious, spiritual, or simply curious for other cultures and respectful to their beliefs, here is a recommended list of the most important religious sites and the most popular holy sites in Israel and the West Bank.

The list covers sacred places of four monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Bahai’s Faith.

It sums up holy places of Judaism, holy places of Christianity, holy places of Islam and holy places of Bahai Faith in Israel and the West Bank.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO. 

RELIGIONS OF ISRAEL AND THE WEST BANK 

Today Christianity is the biggest religion in the world with about 2.1 billion followers worldwide. Islam is the second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers. Judaism has about 13 million followers and the Bahai Faith about 7 million followers worldwide. Summarizing, that’s more than 4 billion people.

4 billion people, out of currently estimated 7.5 billion people on the Earth. What those 4 billion people have in common? Holy places in one country, today called Israel.

Israel and the West Bank cover the biggest part of the biblical Holy Land, while the minor number of the sites is in Jordan and Egypt (Sinai mountain).

Speaking of religions in Israel, today about 75% of the population of Israel are followers of Judaism, about 18% are followers of Islam, 2% are Christians and about 1.6% are Druze (an Islamic sect). Talking about the main religions in the West Bank, about 75% of the West Bank’s population are followers of Islam, about 17% are followers of Judaism and 8% are followers of Christianity.

Must-See Holy Sites in Israel

Contents

40 POPULAR HOLY SITES IN ISRAEL AND THE WEST BANK

The following list of popular holy sites in Israel and the West Bank covers most important holy sites of Judaism, holy sites of Christianity, holy sites of Islam and holy sites of Bahai’s Faith.

The list wraps up 40 sacred places in Jerusalem, holy places in Bethlehem, religious places in Nazareth, sacred sites in Hebron, religious sites in Sea of Galilee, religious places in Haifa, holy sites in Acre and religious sites in Safed.

The collection of 40 sacred places in Israel and the West Bank starts with the holiest city in the Word – Jerusalem.

1. HOLY SITES IN JERUSALEM

JERUSALEM, meaning ‘the City of Peace’ in Hebrew, is called the holiest city in the World.

Jerusalem is a holy city of 3 major monotheistic religions and the oldest monotheistic religions in the world. Jerusalem is a holy city for Muslims, Jews, and Christians holding a striking number of holy sites in Israel and most sacred places in the World.

The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into 4 quarters: the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Armenian quarters. Present-day Jerusalem holds about 1.200 Jewish synagogues, about 150 Christian churches, and more than 70 Muslim mosques.

To briefly outline the history of Jerusalem, let me say that the official history of Jerusalem starts with 1.000 BC when King David made Jerusalem the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. After that Jerusalem was conquered many times and ruled by Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, Muslims, Crusaders, Egyptian Mamelukes, Ottoman Turks, Brits, partially by Jordanians and now Israelis.

Knowing the history of Jerusalem, historical places in Jerusalem, and sacred sites in Jerusalem, it’s quite obvious why Jerusalem is a holy city of Islam, a holy city of Judaism, and a holy city of Christianity. Even more, Jerusalem is the holiest city of Judaism, the holiest city of Christianity, and one of the 3 major Islamic holy cities. Therefore, it’s not surprising that once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Jerusalem is on the wish list of many believers.

The most important sacred sites in Jerusalem are the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif), Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa mosque, Western Wall (Buraq Wall), Church of Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, King David’s Tomb, Last Supper Room, Church of Dormition, Dome of Ascension, Church of St Mark, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Church of All Nations, and Tomb of the Prophets.

But, 3 major holy sites in Jerusalem and famous landmarks in Jerusalem are the Temple Mount (with Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque), the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Temple Mount (with Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque), the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem are considered as the holiest places in Israel and some of the holiest places in the World.

Popular holy sites in Israel

1.1 TEMPLE MOUNT or HARAM AL-SHARIF

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel.
Temple Mount or Haram Al-Sharif is a holy place in Jerusalem
What is the Temple Mount?

The TEMPLE MOUNT, also called HARAM AL-SHARIF what means the NOBLE SANCTUARY, is a plateau in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount is considered to be the holiest place in Jerusalem and a place of huge importance to today’s 3 main religions in the World: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Why is the Temple Mount important? Why is the Temple Mount a source of argument?

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. It is the site where once King Solomon’s First Temple stood.

But, for Muslims, the Temple Mount is Haram Al-Sharif (or the Noble Sanctuary,) the site where Prophet Muhammed ascended to Heaven from the Earth on a winged horse during his Night Journey.

Haram Al-Sharif is the 3rd holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina and a place of Islamic worship. Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, and Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem are the most important holy sites of Islam. On that account, major Islamic holy cities are Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.

Why is the Temple Mount important to Judaism? 

For Jews, the Temple Mount is the site where once originally the First Temple or the Great Temple of Jerusalem built by King Solomon stood.

The temple held the Ark of the Convent with the Ten Commandments. The Temple Mount is believed to be the place of Biblical Mount Moriah with a sacred rock on which Abraham planned to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.

The Temple Mountain is the holiest site in Judaism holding the Foundation Stone where Earth was created. It is a Jewish place of worship.

Why is the Temple Mount important to Christianity? 

The Temple Mount is also a sacred place of Christianity.  For Christians, this is the place where Jesus as a baby was first presented to God, and where he was praying and preaching to his disciples daily.

Jesus as a child impressed the Jewish teachers by his knowledge at that time synagogue on the Temple Mount.

Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the Temple to prove his status on the Temple Mount. Jesus in anger overturned the tables of moneychangers in front of the synagogue (temple) on the Temple Mount.

1.2 DOME OF THE ROCK

The TEMPLE MOUNT holds another two important religious sites in Jerusalem and Jerusalem landmarks: the DOME OF THE ROCK and AL-AQSA  MOSQUE.

The Dome of the Rock is a Jerusalem landmark that dominates the architecture of Jerusalem. Thus, when you see postcards from Jerusalem most likely you see the golden cupola of the Dome of the Rock.

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is one of holy sites in Israel and the West Bank
Dome of the Rock is a holy site in Jerusalem and a Jerusalem landmark
What is the Dome of the Rock? Why is the Dome of the Rock important?

The Dome of the Rock is a Muslim shrine in Jerusalem built on the Temple Mount or the Noble Sanctuary.

Why is the Dome of the Rock important to Islam​?

The Dome of the Rock is built over the sacred stone where the Prophet Muhammed ascended to Heaven from the Earth on a winged horse during his Night Journey.

Thus, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is one of the most important Islamic holy sites in the world.

Why is the Dome of the Rock important to Judaism​?

According to the Jewish beliefs, this is the very same rock on which Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son to God and the rock in the center of the Solomon’s Temple.

Therefore, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is one of the most important Judaism holy sites.

Why is the Dome of the Rock important to Christianity?

Abraham is highly praised by all Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

In short, all Abrahamic religions come from Abraham’s family tree.

So, the Temple Mount has been a Christian pilgrims site for centuries as well.  Furthermore, in medieval times during the conflict between Christians and Muslims, when a Fatimid Caliph ordered the destruction of the Church of Holy Sepulchre (the church where Jesus was crucified and buried), the Crusaders took the Dome of the Rock and turned it into a church called ‘Templum Domini’ or ‘Temple of the Lord’.

1.3 AL-AQSA MOSQUE

Al Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and one of major Jerusalem’s famous places.

The mosque stands on Haram-Al Sharif (or, the Temple Mount) compound in Jerusalem.

While the Dome of the Rock was built around 690 AD, the Al-Aqsa mosque was built 20 years later around 710 AD.

In the 11th century during the Crusaders times, Crusader kings converted Al-Aqsa mosque to a royal palace. In the 12th century, it became the headquarter of the Knights of Templar. Later in the 12th century, Sultan Saladin took it, followed by Mamluks in the mid 14th century.

Today Muslims, or more precisely the Waqf – the Supreme Muslim Religious Council, manage the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque, while the City of Jerusalem is under Israeli governance.

The entrance to the Temple Mountain for non-Muslims is from the wooden Mughrabi Bridge next to the Western Wall.

Opening times: 7:30 am -11 am, and 1:30 pm- 2:30 pm (closed on Fri and Sat to non-Muslims)

1.4 WESTERN WALL or THE BURAQ WALL

the Western Wall in Jerusalem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel
The Wailing Wall is the holiest Jewish site. The Buraq Wall is one of the holiest sites in Islam.

The WAILING WALL, or the Western Wall or Kotel HaMa’aravi in Hebrew, is the last remaining wall of the Temple Mount where once the ancient Solomon’s Temple of Jerusalem and the Holy of Holies – the Gate to Haven stood.

The Holy of the Holies is the most sacred site in Judaism. Therefore, the Western Wall in Jerusalem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel.

The Wailing Wall is one of the holy sites in Israel

There are separate prayer sites for men and women on the Western Wall. The left side of the wall is reserved for men’s praying and the right side for women. According to the tradition, prayers put their prayers notes in the cracks between the rocks.

The Western Wall is the Buraq Wall for Muslims. It is the site where Prophet Muhammad tied his horse Buraq on the Night Journey to Jerusalem and on that account one of Islam’s sacred sites and one of the most important Islamic holy places.

1.5 CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the most important and the holiest Christian site in the World.

It is the holiest place in Christianity where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel and one of the most famous sacred sites in the World.

Where is Jesus buried? Where is Jesus’ tomb?

The tomb of Jesus is in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. 


Furthermore, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem holds the STONE OF ANOINTING (also called the STONE OF UNCTION), the GOLGOTHA HILL (also called the CALVARY, or the PLACE OF THE SKULL) where Jesus was crucified, the AEDICULE CHAPEL (the Mausoleum) with the TOMB OF JESUS and the ANGEL STONE – the stone door which was used to close the tomb of Jesus. For that, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Christianity

For centuries six Christians denominations share the church: the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Ethiopian, Coptic, and Syriac Orthodox, while a Muslim family keeps the key to the church.

Opening hours: 5 am – 8 pm (summer), and 4 am-7 pm (winter)

1.6 VIA DOLOROSA

WAY OF SORROWS  or VIA DOLOROSA in Jerusalem marks a 500 m long route of suffering Jesus Christ on his way to crucifixion.

Undeniably, the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is one of the most famous holy places in Jerusalem and the most popular holy sites in Israel.

14 Stations of the Cross start with the first station in the courtyard of Al-Omariya School for boys in Jerusalem (close to the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem) and finish with the last 4 stations in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The biggest part of the Via Dolorosa is in the Muslim Quarter, while the smaller part is in the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem. On Good Friday the Christians procession goes via Via Dolorosa which is accompanied by Muslim guards in the Ottoman uniforms marking their authority.

1.7 KING DAVID’S TOMB

The TOMB OF KING DAVID is one of the most important for Judaism places of worship and holy sights in Jerusalem.

It is a Jewish holy place on Mount Zion located just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in the Armenian quarter. King David was the second king of the ancient Kingdom of Israel and highly praised in the Old Testament. The Tomb of King David in Jerusalem is a Jewish holy place of worship and one of the most popular holy sites in Israel.

Just above the room with the Tomb of King David is one of the holy sites of Christianity – the Room of Jesus Last Supper.

Opening hours of the Tomb of King David in Jerusalem: 8 am-5 pm (Sat – Thu), 8 am-1 pm (Fri)

1.8 LAST SUPPER ROOM

The list of Christian sites in Jerusalem goes on with the ROOM OF THE LAST SUPPER which is located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

The Room of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, also called the CENACLE ROOM, is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel.

This is a holy site of Christianity as this is the room of the Last Supper where Jesus washed feet to his apostles and shared his last meal with them the night before he died and the night when he instituted the Eucharist. This is also the place where the Holy Spirit came on the apostles on the Pentecost. The Last Supper Room is also known as the UPPER ROOM since it is located in an upper room in the King David’s Tomb compound.

Opening hours of the Room of Last Supper Room in Jerusalem: 8 am – 5 pm (Sat Thu), 8 am-1 pm (Fri)

1.9 CHURCH OF DORMITION

The Church of Dormition in Jerusalem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

The Church of Dormition stands on the top of Mount Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem.

It is another sacred site of Christianity as it is believed to be the place where the Virgin Mary fell asleep and died.

Opening times: 8:30 am-11.45 am, 12:40 pm-5:30 pm, (Mon-Fri); 8:30 am-11.45 am, 12:40 pm-2:45 pm, 3:30 pm-5:30 pm  (Mon); 10:30 am-11:45 am, 12:30 pm-5.30 pm (Sun)

1.10 DOME OF ASCENSION

The Dome of Ascension in Jerusalem is another popular holy site in Israel.

It is one of the sacred sites of Christianity but also one of the sacred sites of Islam. It is a Christian sacred site and Islam sacred site on Mount Zion where Jesus ascended to Heaven. The shrine has been a part of a mosque since the 12th century when Sultan Saladin defeated the Crusaders. Since Muslims believe also in the Ascension of Jesus Christ, the church was converted into a mosque. Ergo, it is one of the sacred places of Islam. Christians are allowed to celebrate the Ascension here on the Ascension Feast Day.

1.11 CHURCH OF SAINT MARK

The Church of St Mark is a Syriac Orthodox church in the Armenian quarter.

Syriac Christians are the first people who adopted Christianity as indigenous people of the Holy Land. Syriac is the Aramaic dialect Jesus spoke. The oldest surviving liturgy in Christianity is served in Syriac. Syriac Orthodox Church is an Oriental Orthodox church that is autonomous and doesn’t belong either to Rome nor Constantinople. The Church of St Mark is one of the most beautiful churches I have seen in Jerusalem and one of Jerusalem’s religious sites that shouldn’t be missed out in Israel.

Opening times: 9 am-5 pm (Apr-Sep); 7 am-4 pm (Oct-Mar); 11 am-4 pm (Sun)

1.12 MOUNT OF OLIVES

The MOUNT OF OLIVES is a Christians holy place and a Jewish holy site.

According to the Old Testament, King David ran away from Mount of Olives when his son rebelled. For Jewish believers, the Messiah will descend on the Mount of Olives and enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate on the Judgment Day.

Christians believe that on the Palm Sunday Jesus went from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. Also according to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested on the Mount of Olives.

1.13 GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE

The GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE is another holy site of Christianity in Jerusalem.

It is the garden on the foot of the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed the night before he was arrested and crucified. The Church of All Nations, or also called the Basilica of Agony, is in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden of Gethsemane and the Basilica of Agony are for Christianity sacred places.

1.14 CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS
The CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS in Jerusalem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

The BASILICA OF AGONY, or the Church of All Nations, is a church just next to the olives of the Garden of Gethsemane and again a holy place of Christianity and one of the important holy sites of Jerusalem.

The church was built over the rock where Jesus has prayed in agony before he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot.

The BASILICA OF AGONY in Jerusalem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

A pair of thornbirds on the Rock of Jesus Agony symbolize souls who want to share Christ’s Passion.

Opening time: 8 am – 12 pm, 2 pm – 6 pm (or 2 pm – 5 pm in winter)





1.15 TOMB OF THE PROPHETS

The TOMB OF THE PROPHETS  on the Mount of Olives is again one of the holy sites in Jerusalem that is a Christian holy place and a holy place of Judaism as well.

It is a catacomb with the tombs of Biblical prophets Zechariah, Malachi, and Haggai. If you are looking for the tomb of Old Testament prophets, the Tomb of the Prophets on the Mount of Olives is the place to visit.

Opening hours of the Tomb of the Prophets: 9 am-3 pm (Fri, Sat, Sun closed)

If you are traveling independently here’s recommended Jerusalem accommodation:
BUDGET: Chain Gate Hostel, Stay Inn Hostel,
MID-RANGE: Jerusalem Hotel,
UPSCALE: The Sephardic House Hotel in the Jewish quarter, Jaffa 60 Apartments ( Jonathan Hotel Chain)

Day tour in Jerusalem: 4-Hour Walking Holy City Tour in Jerusalem

What are the most important holy sites in Jerusalem?

The most important sacred sites in Jerusalem are the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif), Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa mosque, Western Wall (Buraq Wall), Church of Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, King David’s Tomb, Last Supper Room, Church of Dormition, Dome of Ascension, Church of St Mark, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Church of All Nations, and Tomb of the Prophets.

But, 3 major holy sites in Jerusalem and famous landmarks of Jerusalem are the Temple Mount (with Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque), the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

What are the holiest places in Israel?

The Temple Mount (with Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque), the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem are considered as the holiest places in Israel and some of the holiest places in the World.

2. HOLY SITES IN BETHLEHEM

The City of Bethlehem in the West Bank is located only 9 km south of Jerusalem.

Bethlehem in Hebrew means “the City of Bread”.  Bethlehem is a holy city holding several important sacred places of Christianity, sacred places of Islam and sacred sites of Judaism.

Bethlehem is one of the most important holy cities of Christianity since it is the birth town of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is a prophet for Muslims, Bethlehem is also a holy city of Islam. But Bethlehem is also the birth town of King David, the Israeli’s second king and therefore a sacred place of Judaism.

Jerusalem and Bethlehem are the most important two holy cities for Christianity. For Christianity holy sites in Bethlehem are Church of the Nativity, Church of St Catherine, Milk Grotto and Tomb of Rachel (near Bethlehem).

2.1 CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY and GROTTO OF THE NATIVITY

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

If you want to see the place where Jesus was born, you should head to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY in Bethlehem was built over the grotto where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. To enter the church the visitors need to go through small and narrow doors and bow themselves in the respect of the place where God humbled Himself and became a human.

Small steps in the church lead down to the GROTTO OF THE NATIVITY. The biggest part of the church is run by the Greek Orthodox Church and smaller parts by the Armenian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. Thus, Christmas in the Church of Nativity is celebrated in line with the Julian Calendar on 7 January, not on 25 December.

UNESCO listed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as a World Heritage Site.

Opening hours of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem: 6:30 am – 7:30 pm (Apr-Sept), 5:30 am – 5 pm (Oct-Mar); the Grotto is closed on Sundays

2.2 CHURCH OF ST CATHERINE

The Church of St Catherine in Bethlehem is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

The Church of St Catherine is a Catholic church adjacent to the Nativity Church in Bethlehem.

In the 4th century St. Catherine of Alexandria was an advocate of Christianity who was beheaded by Emperor Maximian for her faith.
On 25 December the Christmas Mass is celebrated and broadcasted worldwide from this church, not from the Nativity Church.

Opening times: 6 am-7:30 pm (Apr-Sep), 5:30 am-5 pm (Oct-Mar)

MAYBE YOU ALSO WOULD LIKE TO READ: Climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt 

2.3 MILK GROTTO

The Milk Grotto in Bethlehem is a sacred place for Muslims and Christians.

According to the legend, Mary and Joseph stopped in the cave, above which now a chapel stands, while running away from the Roman soldiers to Egypt. While nursing baby Jesus, a drop of Mary’s milk dropped down onto the stone which became white.

This is a pilgrim site of women who want to conceive.

Opening hours: 8 am-5 pm (Sun closed from 1 pm-2 pm)

If you are traveling independently here’s recommended Bethlehem accommodation:
Habibi Hostel, The Walled Off Hotel, Hosh Al-Syrian Guesthouse, Dar Sitti Aziza

2.4 TOMB OF RACHEL

The Tomb of Rachel is the burial site of Rachel, who was the wife of patriarch Jacob and who died while giving birth to son Benjamin.

The Tomb of Rachel is a Jewish, Christian and Muslim pilgrim site north of Bethlehem, on the road Jerusalem-Bethlehem. It can be accessed only from the Jerusalem side. This is a pilgrim site on the West Bank, especially for women who want to conceive.

Day Tours to Bethlehem:
Bethlehem Half-Day Tour from Jerusalem
Bethlehem and Jerusalem Day Trip from Tel Aviv

3. HOLY SITES IN NAZARETH 

Nazareth is one of the most important Biblical places in Israel and religious places in Israel as it is a Christian pilgrim city where the Holy Family (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus) lived after coming back from Egypt.

There are several Christian holy sites in Nazareth and thus, several popular holy sites in Israel.

3.1 BASILICA OF THE ANNUNCIATION

The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

The Basilica is made over the cave which is believed to be once home of the Virgin Mary and the place where the angel Gabriel appeared announcing her birth to Jesus. It is one of the most important sacred places in Christianity.

The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth is the largest Christian church in the Middle East.

Opening times: 8 am-6 pm

3.2 CHURCH OF ST JOSEPH

Next to the Basilica of the Annunciation stands the Church of St Joseph which is a sacred place in Christianity. The Church was built over a cave which is believed to be the carpentry workshop of St Joseph.

Opening hours of St Joseph Church in Nazareth: 8 am-6 pm

3.3 SYNAGOGUE CHURCH

East to the St Joseph Church in Nazareth you can find another holy place of Christians – the Synagogue Church. This is a Melkite Greek Catholic church. Melkite is a Greek word for the carpenter.

Opening hours of the Synagogue Church in Nazareth: 8 am-5 pm (Apr-Sep),  8 am-4 pm (Oct-Mar); Sun closed 

3.4 MARY’S WELL

The Mary's Well in Nazareth is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

The Mary’s Well is actually a public fountain and is believed to be an ancient well fed by Mary’s Spring.

The Mary’s Well is close to the Orthodox Church of St Gabriel with an altar under which Mary’s Spring flows.

Orthodox Christians believe that Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary at the place where today is St Gabriel Church, not the Basilica of Annunciation.

Opening hours of St Gabriel Greek Orthodox church in Nazareth: 8 am-12 pm, 1 pm-5 pm

If you are traveling independently here’s recommended Nazareth accommodation:
Simsim Guest House, Michel HouseAl Mutran Guest House, Al Bishara Guest House

Day Tours to Nazareth:
Nazareth, Tiberias & Sea of Galilee Day Trip from Tel Aviv
Nazareth, Tiberias & Sea of Galilee Day Trip from Jerusalem

3.5 CHURCH OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

7 km east of Nazareth, there is a Christan religious site on Mount Tabor in Galilee which is believed to be the place of Jesus transfiguration.

Mount Tabor is a special holy place in Israel where the connection between humanity and divine is visible in sublime surrounding nature best-experienced by hiking Mount Tabor. Elegant Church of the Transfiguration stands on the Mount Tabor from the beginning of the 20th century. The church was designed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi who also designed, among others, the church on the Mount of Beatitudes, and Church of All Nations in the Gethsemane Garden.

Opening hours of the Church of the Transfiguration on the Mount Tabor: 8 am-12 pm, 2 pm-5 pm

4. HOLY SITES IN HEBRON

4.1 TOMBS OF THE PATRIARCHS AND MATRIARCHS

Ancient Hebron was one of the holiest cities of the Holy Land.

Hebron is a holy city of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The holy city of Hebron is the 5th holiest city in Islam, the 2nd holiest city in Judaism, and a holy city in Christianity.

The Tombs of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron is a sacred site to all Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

It is a burial site of three prophets and their wives – three biblical couples: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeckah, Jacob and Leah. Abraham bought this property with the Cave of Machpelah – Cave of the Double Tombs about 2.000 BC as the burial place for his wife Sarah and himself.

It is also called the Sanctuary of Abraham or Ibrahimi Mosque by Muslims. The Tombs of the Patriarchs in Hebron is the 2nd holiest site in Judaism, after the Western Wall. It is also a sacred site for Christians. To Muslims who refer Abraham to be a prophet of God, the Cave of Machpelah is the fourth holiest site in the World.

This over 2000-year-old complex with the tombs of the prophets looks like a walled fortress. Herod the Great built the complex with an open roof to the sky. The complex is divided into 3 sections. Each section holds the cenotaphs of a prophet and a wife. Actual graves are in the caves beneath the cenotaphs.

The complex today is divided into two sides: a Muslim side with a mosque and a Jewish side with a synagogue. The mosque holds the cenotaphs of Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah. The synagogue holds the cenotaphs of Jacob and Leah, although all cenotaphs can be seen from each side through small openings.

Jews are not allowed to enter the mosque side while Muslims are not allowed to access the synagogue side, except on mutually agreed few days a year. As a Christian, I was allowed to enter both sides. And although I haven’t initially planned to visit Hebron in my Israel and the West Bank itinerary, Hebron became one of the highlights of my trip.

2017 UNESCO declared Hebron and the Tombs of the Patriarchs a World Heritage Site.

Opening hours of the Tombs of the Patriarchs in Hebron: 7:30 am-11:30 am, 1 pm-2:30 pm, 3:30 pm-5 pm (Muslim side closed on Fri, Jewish side closed on Sat)

Day tour to Hebron: Hebron Day Tour From Jerusalem

5. HOLY SITES IN SEA OF GALILEE

The Sea of Galilee is an important Christian site where according to Holy Bible Jesus calmed the water and asked Peter, James, John, and Andrew to follow him.

Lake Kinneret is the Biblical site where Jesus walked on the water. So if you are after the Biblical place where Jesus walking on water story took place, you should head to Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee area holds an impressive number of Biblical sites in Israel, religious sites in Israel and popular holy sites in Israel. But, Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee is also one of the main holy cities of Judaism as well.

5.1 MOUNT OF BEATITUDES

The Mount of Beatitudes is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

The Mount of Beatitudes is a hill on the northwestern part of the Sea Galilee where Jesus is believed to have taught the Seron of the Mount, including the Beatitudes.

Today a Roman Catholic church stands at the top of the Mount of Beatitudes.

Opening hours of the Church of the Mount of Beatitudes: 8:30 am-12 pm, 2:30 pm-5 pm (2:30 pm-4 pm winter)

5.2 TABGHA

Tabgha stands at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes and only 3 km south-west from Capernaum.

It is a Christians sacred site believed to be the Biblical place where Jesus made the miracle of the multiplication – where Jesus fed 5.000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Thus, Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee is for Christianity holy site.

Opening hours of the Tabgha: 8 am-5 pm (Mon Fri), 8 am-4 pm (Sat), Sun closed 

5.3 CAPERNAUM 

Capernaum is a hometown of Jesus miracles and His first apostles: the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James and John, and the tax collector Mathew. Therefore, Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel.

Today beautiful Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles stands on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in ancient Capernaum.

Opening hours of the Church of the Holy Apostles: 10 am-4:30 pm (summer), 10 am-5:30 pm (winter)

5.4 JESUS TRAIL

The Jesus Trail cover several popular holy sites in Israel

What about the idea of walking with Jesus in Israel?!

Jesus Trail is a 65 km long pilgrim route in Galilee following footsteps of Jesus Christ. The Jesus trail covers several of Christian’s sacred places and popular holy sites in Israel.

The route starts in Nazareth and goes through Cana, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha, and the Mount of Beatitudes. The Jesus trail lasts 4 days. If you wish to trek several historical sites in Israel where Jesus walked and to follow Jesus walks, this trail is for you.

If you are traveling independently to Israel, click here to get the best rates for your stay in Tiberias.

5.6 QASR EL YAHUD – THE BAPTISM SITE OF JESUS ON THE RIVER JORDAN

Qasr El-Yahud is one of the most popular holy sites in Israel

This is the site where Jesus was baptized by St John the Baptist on the western bank of the River Jordan in the Palestinian territories.

In fact, the original site of the baptism of Jesus is just across this site, on the east side of the river Jordan in Jordan. The original site of Jesus baptism in Jordan is called Al-Maghtas.

Qasr El-Yahud is a Christians, Muslims, and Jews sacred site on the West Bank. Jews believe that this is the site where Israelites crossed the river Jordan and where Elijah the Prophet ascended to Heaven. That’s why this site is on the list of Judaism sacred places too.

Opening hours of Qasr El Yahud: 8 am-4 pm (Sat-Tue), 8 am-3 pm (Fri, holidays)

Day tour to Jesus baptism site: Jordan River, Nazareth & Sea of Galilee from Tel Aviv

6. HOLY SITES IN HAIFA

Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel with some exquisite sacred places for Christianity, Islam and the Bahai Faith.

6.1 MUHRAKA MONASTERY

The Muhraka monastery is a Carmelite monastery on the top of the Carmel mount and the place where the prophet Elijah lived and fought the prophets of Baal.

This is a sacred place for Jews, Christians, and Muslims and one of the most popular holy sites in Israel. A Catholic religious order called the Carmelite Order was founded here more than 800 years ago. The views over the Jezreel Valley from the monastery are simply spectacular.

Opening hours of the Muhraka Monastery: Mon-Sat 8 am – 12 pm, 2:20 pm-4:30 pm (Sep-Apr), Mon-Sat 8 am-12 pm, 2:20 pm-5 pm (May -Aug), Sun closed 

6.2 STELLA MARIS MONASTERY and ELIJAH’S CAVE

The Stella Maris Monastery, or in Latin ‘the Star of the Sea’ referring to the Virgin Mary, is the World Headquarters of the Carmelite Catholic religious order.

On the foothill of Mount Carmel just below the Stella Maris monastery, you can find the Elijah Cave. The Elijah cave is one of the most sacred sites in Israel and a religious place to Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze. It is believed to be the grotto where the prophet Elijah mediated before defeating the prophets of Baal.

Opening hours of the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa: 6:30 am-12.30 pm, 3 pm-6 pm

6.3 SHRINE OF THE BAB and THE BAHAI’S GARDENS

The Shrine of the Bab in Haifa is a mausoleum and the burial site of the Bab, the forerunner and the prophet of the Bahai Faith.

This is the second holiest place of the Bahai Faith, after the Shrine of Baha-Ullah in Akko.  The Shrine of the Bab, Bahais Gardens and Shrine of Baha-Ullah are Bahai places of worship. The Bab in Arabic means the Gate. Beautiful gardens surrounding the Shrine of the Bab are well-known as the Hanging Gardens of Haifa. The Shrine of the Bab and the Bahai’s Gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Israel.

The Bahai Faith is a monotheistic religion founded in the 19th century in Persia advocating the spiritual unity of humanity and the fundamental oneness of all religions. Bahai believe that there is only One God whose messengers were Abraham, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad. Bahai’s holy places in Israel are Haifa, Acre (Akko) and Bahji, near Akko.

Opening hours of the Shrine of the Bab: 9 am-12 pm
Opening hours of the Hanging Gardens in Haifa:  9 am-5 pm

If you are traveling independently here’s recommended Haifa accommodation:  Port Inn, Haifa Hostel, Templers Boutique Hotel Zohar’s Apartment, Schumacher Hotel Haifa, Almog Boutique apartment

7. HOLY SITES IN AKKO

Old City of Acre (Akko), popularly known as the Crusaders town as once it was the home of the Templars,  is one of UNESCO sites in Israel.

7.1 HOUSE OF ABBUD

The House of Abbud is a house in the center of the Old City of Akko where once the founder of the Bahai Faith lived.

The Bahai Faith was founded by a man called Bahá’u’lláh, meaning the Glory of God. Baha-Ullah was Bab’s main follower. He was expelled from Teheran and lived his last 32 years in Akko. He died and was buried in Akko.

The House of Abbud is recognizable for its white painted walls and turquoise windows. In this house, Baha-Ullah lived for a few years and composed the principles of the Bahai Faith summarized in the Bahai’s Holy book called Aqdas.

7.2 BAHJI MANSION AND SHRINE OF BAHA-ULLAH

The Bahji mansion with the Shrine of Baha-Ullah is the holiest place for the Bahai Faith. 

The Shrine of Baha-Ullah holds the tomb of Baha-Ullah surrounded by beautiful Persian gardens and stands next to the Bahji mansion, which was a summer house in which Baha-Ullah spent his last years of life. The Bahji mansion is located in Bahji at the northern edge of Akko about 1.2 miles (2 km) from the center of Akko.

Opening hours of the Gardens: 9 am-4 pm 

Opening hours of the Shrine and inner gardens: 9 am-12 pm (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)

If you are traveling independently here’s recommended Akko accommodation: HI – Akko Knights HostelOld City apartments, The Sultan House, Zidan Sarai, The Efendi Hotel Akko

8. HOLY SITES IN SAFED

TZFAT or SAFED is the City of Kabbalah and is one of four holiest cities for Jews.

Four Jewish holy cities with holy places of Judaism are Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed.  There are four main sacred places of Judaism in Safed:

8.1 TOMB OF RABBI SHIMON BAR YOCHAI

The Tomb of Rabbi Shimon is the burial site of the author of the Book of Zohar (the main textbook of Kabbalah, one of the most important Judaism sacred sites in Israel and a Jewish place of worship.

The tomb is located on Mount Meron 6 miles (10 km) from Safed. Rabbi Shimon lived in the 2nd century and taught mystical Kabbalah which covers the esoteric dimension and the deepest secrets of Torah.

Opening hours of the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai: open daily 

8.2 HAARI ASHKENAZI SYNAGOGUE

Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue is one of the popular holy sites in Israel

The Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue in Safed is the oldest synagogue still in use in Israel and for Judaism sacred site.

The synagogue was built in the 16th century in memory of Rabbi Ari, a well-known kabbalist who lived in Safed.

Opening hours of Haari Ashkenazi Synagogue in Safed: 11 am-2 pm (winter), 11 am-3:30 pm (summer), Sat closed

8.3 SEPHARDIC HAARI SYNAGOGUE

The Sephardic Synagogue of the Ari is the oldest synagogue in Safed. The synagogue was called ‘Elijah the Prophet’ but over time got renamed after Rabbi Ari who came to Safed in the 16th century to share his knowledge of Kabbalah.

Opening hours of Sephardic Haari Synagogue in Safed: 11 am-2 pm (winter), 11 am-3:30 pm (summer), Sat closed

8.4 ABUHAV SYNAGOGUE

According to some beliefs, the Abuhav Synagogue was miraculously transported from Spain to Safed.

It is named after a 15th-century famous rabbi and kabbalist Abuhav.

Opening hours of the Abuhav Haari Synagogue in Safed: 11 am-2 pm (winter), 11 am-3:30 pm (summer), Sat closed

If you are planning a trip to Israel and wish to see all or some of these religious places in Israel, I suggest to check out my 10 day Israel itinerary.

MAP of HOLY SITES IN THE HOLY LAND

I have created this Holy Land map to help you see the exact location of the popular holy sites in Israel and the West Bank. You can download the map via Google Maps and save the map on your phone or tablet. The Holy Land Map will be available to you offline on your phone or tablet. Once when in Israel you can easily find the holy sites navigating by the map.

Map of holy sites in Israel and the West Bank for your Holy Land Pilgrimage

Famous holy sites in Israel

FAQ

Why is Jerusalem a holy city?

Jerusalem is a holy city of 3 major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jerusalem is the holiest city of Judaism, the holiest city of Christianity, and one of the 3 major Islamic holy cities (along with Mecca and Medina).

Why is Jerusalem important?

Jerusalem is called the holiest city in the World. Jerusalem is important to all Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
Jerusalem holds the Temple Mount that is considered to be the holiest place in Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism where once the First Temple (or the Great Temple of Jerusalem) built by King Solomon stood. The temple held the Ark of the Convent with the Ten Commandments.
But, for Muslims, the Temple Mount is Haram Al-Sharif (or the Noble Sanctuary), the site where Prophet Muhammed ascended to Heaven from the Earth on a winged horse during his Night Journey.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the holiest Christian site in the World as it is the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Why is Jerusalem important to Jews? 

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism where once the First Temple (or the Great Temple of Jerusalem) built by King Solomon stood. The temple held the Ark of the Convent with the Ten Commandments. The Temple Mount is believed to be the place of Biblical Mount Moriah with a sacred rock on which Abraham planned to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. The Temple Mountain is the holiest site in Judaism holding the Foundation Stone where Earth was created. The Wailing Wall, (or the Western Wall, Kotel HaMa’aravi in Hebrew), is the last remaining wall of the Temple Mount where once the ancient Solomon’s Temple of Jerusalem and the Holy of Holies – the Gate to Haven stood. The Holy of the Holies is the most sacred site in Judaism.

Why is Jerusalem important to Christians?

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the most important and the holiest Christian site in the World where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem holds the Stone of Anointing (also called the Stone of Unction), the Golgotha Hill (also called the Calvary, or the Place of the Skull) where Jesus was crucified, the Aedicule Chapel (the Mausoleum) with the Tomb of Jesus and the Angel Stone (the stone door which was used to close the tomb of Jesus). For that, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Christianity.

Why is Jerusalem important to Muslims?

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is also called Haram Al-Sharif (or the Noble Sanctuary) by Muslims. Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem is the site where Prophet Muhammed ascended to Heaven from the Earth on a winged horse during his Night Journey.
Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem is the 3rd holiest place in Islam, after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. On that account, major Islamic holy cities are Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.

RECOMMENDED READ

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Then and Now Bible Maps

Jesus: A Pilgrimage

Come and See: A Catholic Guide to the Holy Land 

Israel Biblical Sites Travel Guide

The Holy Land for Christian Travelers: An Illustrated Guide to Israel

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13 comments

    1. I had been to the holyland from 26 August to 31 August but I got to understand more of these sites from your article. Thank you very much

  1. There are so many historical sites related to the life of Jesus that I have never heard of before. I went to a Catholic school for 8 years, but I learned more about the holy land and it’s historical significance in your post. The Milk Grotto? They never taught us any of this.Thank you!

  2. Such in incredible wealth of information. I’ve never looked into visiting Israel but it is truly a beautiful location. I would love to travel the Jesus Trail one day.

  3. I would absolutely love taking this trip. We had friends that visited last year and they think it’s a trip everyone should take at one point in their lives. They felt safe and took day trips from one location with guides. I had no idea there is a church over the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. What an incredible experience.

  4. We heard about and saw photos of many of these places when our daughter was living in the area, but have NEVER read such a wonderfully complete and descriptive accounting of all the religious and historical sites! Brilliant and bookmarked!!!!

  5. That’s such a comprehensive and beautifully pictured guide. I had not seen much of Capernaum before, and the beauty of the Greek Orthodox church there is incredible.

    I was interested to see that Hebron became the highlight of your visit, and wondered what prompted that. There is clearly an immense amount of information to see and absorb in a visit like yours. I can imagine it would take a long time to sink in and be digested after your trip.

  6. Fantastic post, I learnt so much reading it! I’m so fascinated by this part of the world and have yet to explore it for myself, though I’m hoping to remedy that within the next two years. It’s hard for me to even begin to grasp the very depth of history that must hide around every corner there. Excellent descriptions and thanks for putting so much detail into this post.

  7. There are some truly beautiful sights here. It’s always amazing to remember how much the major religions of the world share, despite the differences that seemingly drive them apart. I would love to make a visit here one day to learn more about all of the faiths. This is a great compilation and description of the sights. Reading thru them, I was especially intrigued by the Mount of Beatitudes and the Bahai Gardens and would especially like to visit those.

  8. There is so much to see and do in Jerusalem that it can be overwhelming. I’m glad I went with a tour group but I’d like to go again on my own.I’ll certainly use this guide when I do, thank you!

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