Christianity is the largest religion in the world with about 2.1 billion followers. It is a monotheistic religious group based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. All over the world, there are holy sites associated with Christianity and believed to play a significant role in the life of Christians. Thousands of Christian pilgrims visit these sites annually for site seeing, soul-searching, and for Christian traditions.
Along the boundaries of West Bank in modern-day Israel lies Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world. It is home to the three Abrahamic religious groups of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Remarkable holy sites of Christian faith include the Hill of Golgotha/Calvary that is located outside the city walls where Jesus was crucified. Upon his death, Jesus was buried in a tomb believed to be located at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, although the exact location of the tomb is unknown. After the Last Supper, Jesus led his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. It was at the same garden where Jesus was betrayed and arrested by his disciple Judas. The garden is lush with ancient olive trees creating a cool Mediterranean-style forest perfect for those in search of a secluded place for prayer. The Hall of the Last Supper where Jesus sat with his disciples before the crucifixion is also found in the city of Jerusalem. Thousands of Christian pilgrimages from across the globe visit the holy sites of Jerusalem.
According to Christian literature, when the Roman emperor ordered citizens to return to their hometowns for a census, Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem where Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger. The manager is believed to be located at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. The church, which bears the shape of a cross, is among the oldest churches in the world. A few meters away from the church is the Milk Grotto, where the holy family took refuge when Herod ordered all newborns to be killed. Many Christians believe that when Mary was nursing, a drop of her milk fell on the ground and turned the cave white. People from across the globe believe in the fertility powers of the chalk rock. The old city of Bethlehem is an interesting town for strolls. The Star Street is believed to be the ancient path followed by Joseph and Mary to the Nativity and Grotto.
Sephoria is a Roman-Jewish town set atop a hill four miles away from Nazareth. Although the town is not mentioned in the New Testament, it is believed to be the home of Mary’s parents, Anna and Joachim. It is also assumed the place where Joseph worked at some point as a carpenter since it was the capital of Nazareth. Sepphoria is a ruined city with a synagogue dating to the 5th century CE. The synagogue is decorated with mosaic designs including the Binding of Isaac, the Consecration of Aaron in the Tabernacle, and the visitation of Abraham and Sarah by the Angels. During the Roman era, the Romans built important roads that connected the city with other major cities like the port of Acre, Galilee, and Yifat making it is a major trade town. Christians visit Sepphoria to view the ruins that display the early Christian life.
Sea of Galilee
The Sea Galilee often referred to as the Kinneret by modern Israelis, is located along the early trade route of Via Maris that connected the northern kingdoms with Egypt. Galilee is one of the most significant Christian sites in Israel. It is believed that its location attracted Greek, Roman, and Jewish settlers including the family of Jesus and his followers who settled at Capernaum. According to the Gospel of Matthew, it is at Galilee that Jesus performed most of his miracles, including his first, where he turned water into wine at Cana, the modern-day Arab village of Kafar. The garden of Tabgha located on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee is believed to be the plain where Jesus feed 5,000 people with one loaf and two fish. At the same town is the St. Peters Church of Primacy where Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection. The octagon-shaped Church at the Mount of Beatitudes is the place where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. The Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist flows from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
Nazareth, often known as the hometown of Jesus is located in northern Israel. The modern city is built over the old villages with archeological ruins from the times of Jesus spotted in different locations. The Basilica of Annunciation is considered one of the holiest Christians sites in the world. It is believed to be the house of Mary where the angels announced about the birth of Jesus. The Synagogue Church built by crusaders is believed to be the site of the first synagogue where Jesus began his messianic journey. The Jews, who accused Jesus of blasphemy, chased him from the synagogue and he fled to Mountain Precipice, which is located in south side of the city. The site offers a picturesque view of the Yizrael valley, Mount Tabor, and Afula. The St. Joseph Church is located at the site believed to be the place where Joseph had set up his workshop.
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