Raring to visit Israel at least once in your lifetime? Why not? It is home to many sacred sites which we ought to see and appreciate. Also known as the ‘Land of the Bible’, Israel is home to several of the most sacred sites in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Pilgrims from these three monotheistic religions are compelled to visit these holy places at least once in their lifetime. Pilgrimages, which is a journey to sacred sites, have been part of the plans of every believer as acts of devotion, penance, thanksgiving, seeking blessings, or even miracles.
Here are some interesting sites you might want to include in your itinerary (or what we call “Tour Highlights“), especially when you visit Israel around Christmas season:
CHURCH OF THE ANNUNCIATION
Located in Nazareth, this is the site and the church that celebrates the news from Gabriel that Mary would give birth to Jesus. (John 1:14)
THE SHEPHERDS FIELD IN BETHLEHEM
This is located at the hills of the Christian Palestinian village of Beit Sahour , just outside of Bethlehem. According to John 10:11, the angels’ good news was not given to the nobles or pious, but to the shepherds. Note that during those times, being a shepherd was a low reputation in Jewish society, yet Jesus identified himself as a “Good Shepherd”.
CHURCH OF NATIVITY
The Church of Nativity is a UNESCO Heritage site. It is the oldest church in the Christian world, and it is built on the site of Christ’s birth. It has no pews, but it is decorated with wall mosaics dating as far back as the 12th century. The church is located in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. Being the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the church holds a very prominent religious significance to Christian denominations all over the world.
VIA DOLOROSA / STATIONS OF THE CROSS
The Via Dolorosa, “Sorrowful Way”, often translated as “Way of Suffering”, is a processional route in the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to the path that Jesus walked on his way to crucifixion. The winding route from the former Antonia Fortress up to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with a distance of about 600 meters (2000 feet) is a celebrated site for Christian pilgrims.
THE SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE
Another exciting tour highlight is visiting the site as stated in Matthew 14:26-27, “Where Jesus walked on the water”.
The cruise will sail along historical sites, such as Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes and Tabgha, where tour leader may lead you in joint prayers, or provide a geographical and historic explanation about the area. It may include mass, a sermon or any ceremony or events such as : intimate leisure boat trips, special occasion boat trips for Weddings, Birthdays or any celebration, office parties and team building, or just a pilgrim exposure trip.
You will have an opportunity during the sail to learn Israel’s folk dancing. The dances will not only connect you to the people and place you are visiting, but are bound to uplift your spirits in that great magical journey for the soul and mind.
At the end of the journey, you will receive a participation certificate for you to take home and share with your loved ones. This certificate shows to all that you have taken part and seen a piece of the Holy Land history.
Generally the cruise lasts between 45 minutes to an hour. A longer sail may be arranged upon request.
YARDENIT / TRADITIONAL BAPTISMAL SITE
One important tour highlight if you want to visit Israel once in your lifetime in a pilgrimage is the Yardenit or the traditional baptismal site. This is located along the Jordan River in the Galilee Region, south of the river’s outlet from the Sea of Galilee. Acknowledged to be the site of Jesus’ baptism, pilgrims who wish to be baptized in the same place as Jesus was are accommodated here.
Above are just few of the many tour highlights one may opt to see when they visit Israel.
For more information on Israel, check out the Israel Ministry of Tourism site.
For tour package schedule, check out our offered tours to Israel, we will be glad to assist you as you plan to visit Israel at least once in your lifetime!