Israel is a very unusual country. Not only it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world if you are talking about nature, but it is a country filled with a mixture of multiple cultures and if that is not enough, also thousands of years of history.
One of those cultures are the Christians and their unbelievable beautiful churches. For the eye of an European, it’s something from a fairy-tale. Here follows an overview of the seven most beautiful churches and monasteries in Israel.
Bahá’í Gardens and the the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb
The Shrine of the Báb is a structure in Haifa, Israel where the remains of the Báb, founder of the Bábí Faith and forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh in the Bahá’í Faith, have been buried; it is considered to be the second holiest place on Earth for Bahá’ís, after the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre. Its precise location on Mount Carmel was designated by Bahá’u’lláh himself to his eldest son, `Abdu’l-Bahá, in 1891. `Abdu’l-Bahá planned the structure, which was designed and completed several years later by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi.
Stella Maris, Carmelite Monastery
The Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery in Haifa, Israel, is a 19th-century monastery located on the slopes of Mount Carmel. The site can be reached by cable car or on foot.
In the 12th century, during the Crusader occupation of the region, groups of religious hermits began to inhabit the caves of this area in imitation of Elijah the Prophet. Within a century, these monastic hermits were organized into the Carmelite order and the Carmelite order spread throughout Europe.
The Stella Maris church is a beautiful structure, with Italian marble so brightly and vividly patterned that visitors sometimes think the walls have been painted. The cave situated below the altar, which you can walk down into, is “Elijah’s Cave,” where the Old Testament prophet is believed to have lived.
Orthodox Beautiful, Mt Tabor Israel
It was the site of the Mount Tabor battle between Barak under the leadership of the Israelite judge Deborah, and the army of Jabin commanded by Sisera, in the mid 12th century BCE. It is believed by many Christians to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
Between 1919 until 1924 an impressive Roman Catholic church of the Franciscan order named “Church of the Transfiguration” was built on the peak of Mount Tabor. The architect who designed the church, as well as other churches in Israel, was Antonio Barluzzi. The church was built upon the ruins of a Byzantine church from the fifth or sixth century and a Crusader church from the 12th century, which was built in honor of Tancred, Prince of Galilee. The friars of the church live next to the church in a monastery established in 1873.
On the northeast side of the Church of the Transfiguration there is the more modest Orthodox Church which was built in 1862 with funds from Romania. The church was dedicated to Elijah the prophet and was the first religious structure built by Romanian Christians in the Holy Land.
Christian School and Salesian Church in Nazareth
One of the largest and most beautiful churches in Nazareth located on the highest hill on the west of the city and visible from afar, this church is a great beginning point for city tour going all the way down to the Market and the city center.
The Church, established in 1923, was built in Neo Romanski-style (from the 12th century), with a wide columns’ yard by a model made for a church in France. On the roof of the church there’s an impressive statue of Jesus the Adolescent.
If you want to visit the school or church, call for an appointment. Telephone is 972-(0)4-6468954.
Wedding Church, Cana
History records that a church was built in Cana by Empress Helena (mother of Constantine) in the 4th century, and this was identified with the remains of a large building found by travellers to Kafr Kanna in the 17th century. Recent excavations have uncovered ruins of houses from the 1st-4th centuries AD, of a 5th-century atrium with portico, a Christian funerary building from the 5th or 6th century, and a medieval building. The land at Kfar Kana was sold by the lord of Sidon to the Knights Hospitallers in 1254. The Franciscans became established here in 1641 and began building the present church over an older church in 1879. It was consecrated in 1883.
Shepherd Field Church
There are two enclosures in the eastern part of Beit Sahour that are claimed by different Christian denominations to be the actual ‘Shepherds Field‘: one belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church and the other, the Catholic site, to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
This site interested the earliest Christian pilgrims; in 384 the pilgrim Egeria was shown the church called “At the Shepherds” in a valley near Bethlehem. She reported, “A big garden is there now, protected by a neat wall all around, and also there is a very splendid cave with an altar.” The pilgrim Arculf remarked in 670 that this site was “about a mile to the east of Bethlehem.” The Orthodox site seems to correspond better with Egregia and Arculf’s accounts.