Churches of Jerusalem are a wonderful way to discover the history, architecture and art of the city, in the past and present, so whatever your religious believes are, why not include a few churches in your tour?
Jerusalem is a famous pilgrimage site for people from various religions and believes. It transforms the bible into vivid reality – one can actually see, feel, hear and touch the places where biblical heroes lived and died.
Jerusalem is home to monumental churches, which are part of the highlights of a Holy Land tour. These churches have prolific ancient history and beautiful architecture that makes them noteworthy to visit at any time of the year when visiting the city.
Church of All Nations
This is a 20th century Roman Catholic Church, also known as Basilica of the Agony at Gethsemane, was built in the place where Jesus was brought after having his last supper with his 12 apostles on Mount Zion. It is located in the Garden of Gethsemane in East Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Olives. This Neo-Byzantine church was built in 1924 on the ruins of two older churches. Its ceiling has 12 domes, representing the 12 apostles. It contains several mosaics that represent the 12 nations that have contributed to fund it.
The stone in the center of the church is supposed to represent where Jesus leaned on during the night, before he was turned over to the Romans. On its left is a wall painting of Judas kissing Jesus. The flooring of the church still contains remnants of Byzantine mosaic. The church area is known for having eight beautiful olive trees that are believed to be over 2,000 years old.
The church is open daily from 8 am to 12 noon and from 2 pm to 5 pm in winter and until 6 pm in summer.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This 12th century church is located inside the walled Jerusalem Old City within the Christian quarter. It is one of the most significant pilgrimage site for Christians because it was built on the site where Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead. The church has been burned, destroyed, repaired, and restored many times, the current church was built in 1810.
The Rock of Calvary encased in a glass at the Altar of the Crucifixion, which is believed to be the place where the crucifixion occurred, is the most visited place inside the church.
The road leading to the church is called Via Dolorosa (“the way of grief” in latin). Jesus walked along this way from the place where he was sentenced to the location of the crucifixion, and many pilgrims chose to walk it as well, stopping at various stations. Every Friday, at noon, a procession of Franciscan monks walks the Via Dolorosa up to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Church is open 7 days a week from 5:30 am until 7 pm in winter and from 5:30 am to 8 pm in summer.
Dominus Flevit Church
This church was built in the mid-1950s on Mount Olives, opposite of the old city’s wall. It is designed to look like a tear, symbolizing Jesus’ tears. During its construction, archaeologists uncovered artifacts dating back to the Canaanite period. In the courtyard, there are reminds of Byzantine mosaic and a wine press.
The church is open daily from 8 am to 11:45 am and from 2:30 to 5 pm.
The Russian Church of Maria Magdalene
One of the most beautiful churches in Israel, this church was dedicated by the Russian Czar in 1888. The body of the wife of Grand Duke Sergei, Elizabeth Fyodorovna, who was killed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian revolution, is buried in this church – there is a marble sarcophagus that contains her remains on the right side of the church. A marble pillar found across the entrance gate of the church signifies the place where Judas handed Jesus over to the Roman soldiers.
The church is open to visitors on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 11 am.
Church of Mary’s Tomb
An Eastern Orthodox Church that was built in the 12th century on the remains of a Byzantine site. It is situated near the tomb of Mary, mother of Christ. There are drawings and engravings typical of Orthodox churches. The church is lit by hanging oil lanterns, which contribute to its special beauty.
The church is open daily between 8 am to 12 noon and from 2 pm to 5 pm in winter, until 6 pm in summer.