In a year that has seen a resurgence of religious pilgrimages worldwide, Israel stands at the forefront as the Holy Land, securing an impressive 14 spots in patheos’ coveted list of the 100 Most Holy Places on Earth, with three of these sacred sites claiming their spot in the top 10.
This in-depth study was conducted and published by Patheos.com, the leading online platform for global discussions about religion and spirituality. Patheos serves as the go-to website for millions seeking profound insights, inspiration, and engaging conversations about faith.
Many of the remarkable sites that have earned Israel its prominent position in this esteemed list are on the must-visit sites on every holy land tour and christian pilgrimage visit to Israel –
From the serene shores of the Jordan River to the awe-inspiring heights of Mount Zion, each of the 14 holy places in Israel offers a unique spiritual experience. The list, comprising renowned sites such as the Church of the Annunciation and the Garden Tomb, showcases the diverse tapestry of beliefs that find their home in the Holy Land.
Awarded the 89th spot on the most sacred places on earth, Capernaum (The Village of Nahum) is considered by many to be as important as the most visited holy sites of Jerusalem, as Capernaum was the center of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. It is also believed that five out of Christ’s original twelve apostles were from Capernaum or the surrounding region. Together with the fact that certain sites in Capernaum were identified in the first century as sacred, it is regarded as a significant christian pilgrimage site in the Holy Land.
Considered as a sacred site both by Jews and Christians who travel to the Holyland, the next site on the list, in the 70th place, is Jordan River. Stretching 250 km (156 miles) with Israel on its west bank and Jordan on the east into the Dead Sea, the Jordan River is visited by approximately 600,000 people annually.
For Jews, this site is sacred because it is the location where ancient Israel crossed into the Promised Land. For Christians, it is where John the Baptizer baptized Jesus. It is a popular pilgrimage site for Christians, and also a popular baptism site for believers.
Further up on the list is the church on the Mount of Beatitudes (43rd). Also known as Mount Eremos, this is where Jesus is believed to have delivered his “Sermon on the Mount”—from which the famous eight “Beatitudes” are drawn and where Jesus demonstrated his blessings to the crowd by the miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes. From here, you can actually see some of the most popular Christian travel destinations, including Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, and many other places associated with Jesus’ life and work.
No faith-based itinerary in the northern part of Israel is complete without a visit to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Securing the 61st spot on the list, the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation was built to commemorate the appearance of angel Gabriel to the young Virgin Mary, informing her that she would give birth to the Messiah. It was built on top of a 4th century Christian shrine and a small grotto, said to have been the childhood home of the Virgin Mary.
Further west, two sites on the most holy sites in the world are Baháʼí pilgrimage sites that most Baháʼís hope to visit at least once in their lifetime. Overlooking the Mediterranean coast of Haifa, number 99, are the Bahai Gardens; and the Bahai Shrine of Bahaullah (36) can be found on the Northern Coast of Acre. Together, these sites draw approximately 2 million (mostly non-religious) travelers per year.
It is no surprise that six of the sites on the list, three of which in a top-10 position, are in Jerusalem.
Devout believers from around the world go on a Christian pilgrimage visit to Israel that encompasses Jerusalem’s key sites that resonate deeply with the Christian faith. The Via Dolorosa (25), retracing the steps of Jesus on his way to crucifixion, is a poignant testament to his sacrifice. The Garden Tomb (15), believed by many to be the burial site and resurrection place of Jesus, evokes a profound sense of reverence.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (7) stands as a beacon of Christian heritage in Israel, encompassing both the crucifixion and resurrection sites, and the Mount of Olives (6), with its panoramic views of Jerusalem, is where Jesus ascended to heaven, making it a deeply spiritual site for pilgrims on their Holy Land trip itinerary.
At a short distance is The Wailing Wall (10), also known as The Western Wall, or Kotel, is not only a revered site for Jews, but also holds great importance for Christians as a place of prayer and reflection, as it is the closest thing remaining to the temple that Jesus once frequented.
The Kotel is a popular site for Jewish group travel to Israel, and families on a Bar Mitzvah trip and a Bat Mitzvah trip to Israel. The tradition is for visitors to place written wishes and blessings in the cracks of the Wall. More than a million prayer notes are placed in the cracks of the Wailing Wall each year.
At the pinnacle of this prestigious list stands the iconic Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount. Its golden dome is a beacon of spirituality, drawing devotees and visitors alike to witness its architectural marvel and spiritual significance.
It is most known as a site sacred to Islam and Judaism, however it holds a major significance for christians as well, as the site of much of biblical history, as well as the location of some of the most important events in the life of Jesus.
At Eshet Incoming, we take pride in curating customized group travel to Israel, enriched by experiences that allow you to explore these sacred places. Our expert travel planners and tailored itineraries ensure that your pilgrimage to Israel is not only enjoyable but also deeply transformative.
Connect with us today to start planning your group’s unforgettable trip to Israel with Eshet Incoming.