Christian Tourism in Israel
One of the most experiential trips to Israel is the pilgrimage to Christian holy places. On this trip to Israel, the tourist pilgrimages to Christian holy sites in the Holy Land, churches and other sites that Jesus and other Christian saints visited or lived in, and sites from the stories of the Bible and the New Testament. Most of the sites are now located in Israel and their minority is in the territories of the Palestinian Authority.
The Roots of Pilgrimage in Israel.
The roots of pilgrimage to the Holy Land are probably in the Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple during the Second Temple period, when Jesus arrived to Jerusalem during Passover.
The pilgrimage frequency increased after Emperor Constantine’s rise to power and after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD. The emperor’s mother, Helena, came to Israel in 326, in a pilgrimage, the first of its kind, and many followed her. Pilgrimages continued in the days of Crusade rule as well, an even when the country was under Mamluk and Ottoman rule.
Christian Holy Sites in Israel
There are approximately 30-40 pilgrim visiting sites which are considered mandatory in a pilgrimage to Israel. 50% of the sites are concentrated in the Jerusalem area or a short drive away, 30% of the sites are located in the Galilee and around the Sea of Galilee, and the rest are in the Western Galilee and coastal plain. Prayers and sermons in these places intensify the religious experience.
The Classic Pilgrimage Route in Israel
The classic pilgrimage route includes about 4 nights in Jerusalem, 2 nights around the Sea of Galilee and one night in Tel Aviv . The route includes the classical Christian sites like Nazareth,Kefar Cana, Mount Tabor, Tabgha, Caesarea, the religious sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem,Qumran and Masada.
The classic route is basically the essence of Jesus travels in the Holy Land, including the biblical sites that appear in the New Testament. While travelling, the pilgrims visit all the places where Jesus lived, studied and performed miracles.
Other sites of interest to pilgrims are mainly historical or biblical sites that are located in a driving range of up to an hour from Jerusalem, Like Beit Guvrin or Mini Israel and other sites in the Galilee that a longer stay in the country allows to visit, including Beit Shean, the boat in Ginosar and other different places in the Galilee.