Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, is one of the oldest cities in the world. The old walled city is a mix of small alleys and has several revered sites such as the Western Wall, the Church of holy Sepulcre, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. It is considered a holy city for the Islamic, Christian and Jewish faiths and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage listed site.
The Western Wall (better known as the Wailing Wall) attracts thousands of Jewish worshippers each day, who come to pray, write notes to God and place them between the ancient stones of the Wall because they believe that the presence of God resides there. The Holy Sepulcre is a beautiful church built in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem. It is considered one of the holiest places in Christian Religion as it believed to be the site of Jesus’ Crucifixion and burial. Inside the church is a rocky outcropping which is the traditional place where the cross was placed. Inside the lavishly decorated church is the opulent marble tomb (Sepulcre) of Jesus, where you will find many pilgrims in prayer and paying homage.
Nazareth is a town in Galilee where the Virgin Mary lived and raised Jesus and it is therefore a centre of Christian pilgrimage. The town sits between the hills of the Lebanon range and a beautiful spring called St Mary’s well, and various Jewish tombs on the northwestern side. Today, white and clean modern houses run up the hillsides and are spread out in the shape of an amphitheatre, set in a green framework of vegetation. Nazareth is also the capital and largest city in the North district of Israel. A must see in Nazareth is the beautiful Church of Annunciation, a Byzantine church that was built over the place where it is believed that the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary.
A short drive south of Jerusalem into the Palestinian Territory is Bethlehem. Christians beleive Bethlehem to be the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. The main sites of interest are Rachel’s Tomb (considered the third holiest site in Judaism), Manger Square in the city centre and the Church of the Nativity, which has the Star of David etched into the floor and is reputed to be the oldest church in the world and the site where Jesus was born.