Churches in Jerusalem The Complete Jerusalem Pilgrimage Guide

Revised and Updated - May 2024

  • Jerusalem, the heart of many faiths, is a treasure trove of sacred sites for Christian pilgrims. Within its ancient walls lie some of Christianity’s most sacred sites, each whispering tales of Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection.

  • For those planning to go on a spiritual journey in Jerusalem, the array of churches and Christian landmarks can feel overwhelming. This guide highlights the most popular Christian sites and churches in Jerusalem in order to help you navigate Jerusalem with deeper comprehension and enrich your pilgrimage experience.

1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Where Faith Takes Center Stage

  • The undisputed crown jewel of Christian Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is a revered complex encompassing two of Christianity’s holiest sites: the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion (Golgotha) and his empty tomb. Prepare to be awestruck by the grandeur of this architectural marvel, a fusion of Byzantine, Crusader, and Ottoman influences. Weave through throngs of pilgrims as you ascend Calvary’s worn steps, where Jesus is believed to have carried the cross. Venerate the exposed bedrock, believed to be Golgotha, and descend into the grotto housing Jesus’ empty tomb, a place of profound reverence and reflection.
  • Location: Christian Quarter, Old City of Jerusalem
  • Opening Hours: Summer (April-September) – Sundays: 5:00 AM – 8:00 PM, Mondays-Saturdays: 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM. Winter (October-March) – Sundays: 4:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Mondays-Saturdays: 5:00 AM – 7:00 PM.
  • My Tip: Photography is permitted within the church, but be respectful of pilgrims engaged in prayer.
front entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

2. The Via Dolorosa: Walking the Path of Jesus' Suffering

  • The Via Dolorosa, or “Way of Sorrows,” is a poignant pilgrimage route retracing Jesus’ steps from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate to his crucifixion. Marked by 14 Stations of the Cross, each depicting a scene from his final journey, the Via Dolorosa winds through the bustling alleys of the Old City. Pause at each station for prayer or reflection, imagining the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice. The route culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, adding a powerful dimension to your experience there.

  • Location: Starting from the Antonia Fortress (Muslim Quarter) to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Christian Quarter)

  • Opening Hours: The Via Dolorosa is a public alleyway and is always open. However, specific Stations of the Cross may be located within opening hours of nearby shops or churches.

  • My Tip: Find a good guide to the Via Dolorosa with historical information and descriptions of each station. 

via dolorosa jerusalem israel

3. The Garden of Gethsemane: A Sanctuary of Tranquility

  • Nestled at the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the Garden of Gethsemane, a place of immense spiritual significance. Here, amidst ancient olive trees, some believed to be over 2,000 years old, Jesus spent his final night before the crucifixion in prayer and anguish. Step into the serene atmosphere and contemplate the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice. Imagine the disciples sleeping nearby as he wrestled with his fate. The tranquility of the garden offers a stark contrast to the events that unfolded here, a powerful reminder of Jesus’ humanity.
  • Location: Eastern slope of the Mount of Olives
  • Opening Hours: Summer (April-September) – Sundays to Thursdays: 4:30 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM, Fridays & Saturdays: Open until Noon only. Winter (October-March) – Sundays to Thursdays: 4:30 AM – 11:00 AM & 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM, Fridays & Saturdays: Open until Noon only.
  • My Tip: Arrive very early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds and experience the garden’s tranquility at its finest.
Garden of Gethsemane Jerusalem israel

4. Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony): A Unifying Place of Prayer

  • Located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the Church of All Nations, also known as the Basilica of the Agony, is a stunning architectural marvel. Its dome, adorned with mosaics depicting various Christian denominations, reflects the church’s role as a shared space for prayer by Christians from all backgrounds. Descend into the grotto beneath the church, believed to be the site where Jesus prayed in agony before his arrest.

  • Location: Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives

  • Opening Hours: Daily: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

  • My Tip: Attending a short prayer service or lighting a candle in the Church of All Nations can be a deeply moving experience.

Church of All Nations Jerusalem israel

5. Mount of Olives: A Mountain Steeped in History and Faith

  • The Mount of Olives, a prominent hill east of the Old City of Jerusalem, is a treasure trove for Christian pilgrims. The lookout on top of the Mount of Olives is a popular spot for panoramic views of the city. My tip is to start your walk there and descend down the steep alleys to visit these churches and sites:
  • The Chapel of the Ascension: Located near Pater Noster Church, where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, this octagonal-shaped chapel is believed to be the site where Jesus ascended into heaven. It offers a place for quiet reflection on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Open daily 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Dominus Flevit Church (The Lord Wept): Located between the Church of the Ascension and the Garden of Gethsemane, this church is believed to mark the spot where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, foreseeing its destruction. For a deeper understanding of the biblical passage associated with this church, consider reading Luke 19:41-44. Open daily 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Church of Mary Magdalene: Known for its striking Russian Orthodox architecture, with golden onion domes, this church is dedicated to Mary Magdalene, a devoted follower of Jesus. It is a serene place for prayer and reflection. Open Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
panorama of jerusalem from mount of olives

6. Tomb of the Virgin: The Shrine of Mary's Eternal Rest

  • Located in the Kidron Valley, beneath the Garden of Gethsemane, lies the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. This sacred site, venerated by some Christian denominations, is believed to be the burial place of Mary, mother of Jesus. Descend into the cool grotto and admire the beautiful icons and flickering candles.
  • Location: Kidron Valley, beneath the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Opening Hours: Daily: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • My Tip: Dress modestly when visiting the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, as it is a revered place of prayer.
tomb of the virgin mary in Jerusalem Israel

7. The Cenacle (Upper Room): Witnessing the Last Supper

  • Descend from the Mount of Olives to the bustling Old City and enter the Church of the Holy Dormition, also known as Hagia Maria Sion Abbey. Within this 12th-century abbey lies the venerated Upper Room, believed to be the location of the Last Supper. The simple yet powerful space evokes a sense of intimacy and allows for contemplation of Jesus’ final meal with his disciples.
  • Location: Mount Zion, outside the Old City walls
  • Opening Hours: Summer (April-September) – Sundays: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Mondays-Saturdays: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Winter (October-March) – Sundays: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Mondays-Saturdays: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM.
  • My Tip: The Upper Room is a venerated space, so dress modestly and be respectful of ongoing services or prayer times.
While visiting the Upper Room, take time to explore the Church of the Holy Dormition. This impressive abbey, built by Benedictine monks, is believed to be the place where the Virgin Mary fell asleep (dormition) before her assumption into heaven. Admire the beautiful artwork and serene atmosphere within the abbey walls.
The Cenacle upper room jerusalem

8. Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu: Where Denial Echoes

  • Just outside the Old City walls lies the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu, built on the traditional site of Caiaphas’ house, the high priest where Jesus was imprisoned and denied by Peter three times before the rooster crowed (Gallicantu in Latin). The church’s design incorporates a cave believed to be Jesus’ prison cell.
  • Location: Western slope of the Mount Zion, outside the Old City walls
  • Opening Hours: Daily: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • My Tip: Combine your visit to the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu with a walk along the nearby Armenian Quarter for a unique cultural experience.
Church of St Peter in Gallicantu Jerusalem

9. Church of the Visitation: A Celebration of the Meeting

  • Ein Karem, a picturesque village nestled in the hills southwest of Jerusalem, holds significance for Christians. Here, the Church of the Visitation commemorates the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. Descend into the beautiful church and admire the depictions of this joyous encounter. A spring located nearby is believed to be where Mary quenched her thirst during her visit.

  • Location: Ein Karem, Jerusalem

  • Opening Hours: Summer (April-September): 8:00 AM – 11:45 AM & 2:30 PM – 6:00 PM. Winter (October-March): 8:00 AM – 11:45 AM & 2:30 PM – 5:00 PM. Closed Yom Kippur.

  • My Tip: Enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the many cafes in Ein Karem after your visit to the Church of the Visitation. 

Church of the Visitation Jerusalem Israel

10. Church of Saint John the Baptist: A Prophet's Birthplace

  • Another significant site in Ein Karem is the Church of Saint John the Baptist, traditionally believed to mark the birthplace of John the Baptist. Descend into the grotto beneath the church, said to be John’s birthplace, and explore the beautifully decorated chapels within the church grounds.

  • Location: Ein Karem, Jerusalem

  • Opening Hours: Summer (April-September): Daily: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Winter (October-March): Daily: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. Closed Yom Kippur.

  • My Tip: Combine your visit to the Church of Saint John the Baptist with a stop at the nearby Church of the Visitation for a well-rounded experience in Ein Karem. 

Church of Saint John the Baptist Jerusalem Israel

Conclusion

  • These sites represent just a fraction of the Christian holy places gracing Jerusalem. From the hallowed halls of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the serene Mount of Olives, each location offers a unique window into Jesus’ life and ministry. So lace up your walking shoes, embrace the spiritual significance, and embark on your own unforgettable pilgrimage through the Holy City. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or for personalized recommendations.

moshe barak

About The Author

Moshe Barak is a highly knowledgeable and reputable private taxi service operator in Israel, renowned for his professional approach, friendly attitude, and attention to details.
With over 20 years of experience and a long list of satisfied customers he is the trusted choice by many international travelers seeking reliable transportation with a personal touch during their trip to Israel.

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