Israel sacred sites are abundant, and travelers interested in visiting holy places will have a wealth of destinations to explore. Israel holy sites are located throughout the country, from the northern portion of the country to the southern region beyond the Negev desert. Travelers with extended vacation packages can continue their exploration and sightseeing of Israel holy sites along the border and into neighboring Egypt, Jordan, and the Sinai Desert.
Israel holy sites include the cities of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth, Caesarea, and Tabgha, which is near the Sea of Galilee. Tours of the sacred sites focus on the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, with several holy sites for all three faiths designated in the city of Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock, located at the Temple Mount, also known as the Noble Sanctuary, is an important Islamic site, as the shrine covers the sacred stone where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The al-Aqsa Mosque, also located at the Noble Sanctuary, is a religious gathering place for Muslims and the third holiest site, following Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Within Jerusalem stands the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, which is one of the most sacred Jewish religious sites. The wall is the remainder of the Second Temple of Jerusale, built by King Herod in about 20 BC and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Visitors can tour the underground Wall of Tunnels to see the ancient stone foundations of the original temple.
One of the most sacred Christian holy places in Israel, the Via Dolorosa or Path of Sorrow, follows the route Jesus took as he left the city after being condemned by the Romans. Travelers can follow the path, whose name translates roughly to the Way of Suffering, stepping back in time to retrace the steps Jesus walked. Along the route that begins at Lions Gate and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, you will see the fourteen Stations of the Cross that mark his journey to Calvary, where he was crucified.
The first nine Stations of the Cross are marked to denote each significant incidence along the path, and the last five stations are located inside the Holy Sepulcher, one of the most visited religious sites in Israel. The Holy Sepulcher, or Sacred Tomb, in Jerusalem was built for Emperor Constantine during the fourth century, after demolishing Herodian's temple built from 132 through 135. In 1149, the Crusaders built the basilica that surrounds the tomb of Jesus, now one of the many Israel sacred sites.
Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, remains a significant site for Christian pilgrimages. The city contains one of the most ancient Israel holy sites, the Church of the Nativity, constructed in the fourth century. Bethlehem is in the West Bank, so travelers who want to visit the site should exercise caution during their time in the Palestinian Territories.
Israel sacred sites are also found in the city of Tabgha, situated along the Sea of Galilee where the Church of the Multiplication resides. The current church is of modern architecture and built on the site where ancient churches stood in the fourth and fifth centuries. Another of the holy places in Israel in that area is the Mount of Beatitudes, which is located on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee and is the place where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.