Most Popular Holy Land Sites to See in the Middle East
Thinking about taking a trip to the Holy Land? Better than yet another vacation at the beach or a ski trip in Colorado, feasting your eyes on the lands of Israel, Egypt, and more for the very first time is a downright religious experience. But what are some of the most popular Holy land sites for Christians to see? After all, that’s a lot of ground to cover. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the highlights. Here are some of our recommendations on the most popular Holy Land sites for Christians to visit.
Starting with the obvious among the most popular Holy Land sites for Christians is the city of Jerusalem. The capital of ancient Israel, so many important historical and religious events have taken place here. Jerusalem is “the city of David” where the king spent decades building up the city to a level of notoriety which has lasted centuries. You can see the remains of the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man as well as the locations where Christ was crucified and buried. There are many great sites for Christians to see in Israel, but Jerusalem offers several great options within one city.
Sea of Galilee
A 13-mile long body of water found in the northern section of Biblical Israel, the Sea of Galilee is home to several key events from the story of Christ. It is here that Jesus told Peter and other disciples how to become fishers of men. Another amazing story found in Mark 4 tells of how Jesus stilled the waters of the Sea of Galilee during a storm. This is also where Jesus walked on the water.
Mount of Beatitudes and Tabgha
Just on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee you’ll find Tabgha and the Mount of Beatitudes. In this small area is the hill upon which it is believed that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7. There are some who believe the Feeding of the 5000 occured here as well, but that is a matter of contention at this point. Like some of the other most popular Holy Land sites for Christians, you’ll be able to visit historical Roman Catholic churches and other worship sites in Tabgha.
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
Aside from Jesus’ death and burial site, one of the most important places you can visit in the Holy Land is Bethlehem. As the birthplace of Jesus, it serves as a wonderful start to your journey through the life of Christ. The Church of the Nativity was built on this site nearly 1500 years ago and it (as well as the greater Bethlehem area) still brings in roughly a million visitors each year.
Masada National Park
If you’re craving wide open spaces during your trip to the Holy Land, you should consider a trip to Masada National Park. Although its name may sound modern, this location has some deeply historical roots. Masada is the fortress of Herod the Great, who sought to kill Jesus as a baby. The desert structure, constructed about 40 years before the birth of Christ, is built upon a high mesa where visitors can see for miles.
Among the many features of Jerusalem is the Via Dolorosa (translated in Latin to “Painful Way”). This path through the city is believed by many to match the different stops by Jesus along his way to the cross. The Via Dolorosa is crafted by a series of stations throughout the city which mark Jesus’ trials and where He may have fallen or received help from Simon of Cyrene. Some facets of this popular attraction are not exactly backed up by scripture, but it’s still an interesting place to see.
For those who want to see some of the most popular Holy Land sites from the Old Testament, Mount Carmel is a great choice. In 1 Kings 18 we see the importance of Mount Carmel as the site where the prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven. Today the mountain is part of a national park which features a number of historical artifacts and archeological sites. Its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea gives the area a lush presentation pleasing to all who visit the mountain range.
Capernaum - Most Popular Holy Land Sites for Christians
Not far from Tabgha and the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum sits next to the Sea of Galilee. While the most popular Holy Land sites for Christians often refer to events from the Holy Week before Easter, Capernaum has a different reason for its importance. This city is the known host of the most miracles which Jesus performed. Among these healings are bringing Jairus’ daughter back to life and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman (Matthew 9:18-26) and the paralyzed man who was let down through the ceiling (Mark 2:1-12).
Not all of the most popular Holy Land sites for Christians are found in Israel. Anyone who has read through the highlights of the Old Testament knows how important Mount Sinai is to the Biblical story. Located in Egypt, the mountain where God passed down the ten commandments is also known as Jebel Musa, Gabal Musa, and Mount Horeb. If you can make it to the summit, you’ll find St. Catherine’s Monastery, one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in existence.
Connecting the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee is the Jordan River, one of the most often discussed bodies of water in the Bible. Funny enough, the river is barely more than a stream in many places most of the time. Still, people love to travel to this part of the Middle East for its religious connotations. This is where John the Baptist conducted his ministry, including the baptizing of Jesus.
Mount of Olives
As you might expect, the Mount of Olives is a hill that received its name for the large number of olive trees which covered it in the past. The area is located to the east of Jerusalem and is significant throughout several portions of the Bible, especially the final days of Jesus. It is here that visitors will find the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent His last free moments prior to being arrested.
Nazareth - Most Popular Holy Land Sites for Christians
While Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus, He spent much of His upbringing in the town of Nazareth. Today this area is full of beautiful churches and historical sites leading tourists through the early life of Jesus. There may be some disagreement on the exact spots where Jesus or Mary and Joseph would have performed certain tasks, but it is exciting to walk through the same areas in which Jesus lived His early life. You can also see the Mount of Precipice where Jesus was nearly thrown off by the locals.
Jumping back into some Old Testament sightseeing, the town of Jericho is perhaps most well known for its mighty walls which were knocked down by the Israelites shortly after Joshua took over as the human leader of God’s people. Like many cities in the area, its reason for relevance in the New Testament is due to Christ’s impact on the local community. It is in Jericho where Jesus made friends with Zacchaeus and healed the blind man named Bartimaeus.
These may be some of the most popular Holy Land sites for Christians to see in the Middle East, but there’s even more great locations to visit than you could imagine. These distant areas offer so much for those who love to peel back the pages of history and experience something truly spectacular. Premier Cruises is a company that seeks to provide that level of unique opportunity combined with family friendly vacation packages. We offer cruises to the Caribbean with Christian celebrities, Holy Land tours, and so much more. Find out how you can join us for a vacation like no other by clicking on the link below.