Churches of Ein Kerem
The churches of Ein Kerem are very popular destinations in Jerusalem day tours. Beautiful, historically and religiously significant and set next to a breath taking view, it is easy to see why so many travelers are frequent these churches. So what churches are there in Ein Kerem and what makes them so attractive? If you want to know the sites and the stories behind them, read on.
Church of Saint John the Baptist
The Church of Saint John was founded in 450 A.C., and is said to have been constructed on John’s birth place, and also as the site where the severed head of the influential gospel writer is said to have been buried. Destroyed by the Persians in 614 A.C., the church was re-erected in the 11th century and was even used as a headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller during the crusades. The Church was again destroyed and re-erected in the 17th century in the form it still holds today.
The church is beautify decorated by Spanish paintings and by blue and white tiles covering enormous square pillars and parts of the walls, making the church into a spectacle to behold.
Church of the Visitation
The Church of Visitations is probably the most impressive church in Ein Kerem. It commemorates the place near the streams where Mary, mother of the Christ, is known to have frequented, and where her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, have exclaimed “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’” (Luke 1:39-42), in what is considered to be the first Marian hymn.
During its history, this church has been destroyed at least twice and in the 15th century pilgrims reported it stands in complete ruins. The church was only reconstructed in the 20th century by the Franciscans, who kept all the byzantine and crusader remains and added many new frescos by the talented artist Vagharini. The church has two stories filled to the brim with amazing art and artifacts.
Gorny Convent: Russian Orthodox Church of Ein Kerem
The Gorny, or “Moscobia” convent was established by the Jerusalem mission of the Russian Orthodox Church at the end of the 19th century. According to the Russian Orthodox belief, this is the place where Mary and Elizabeth met. Though initially lacking in funds and brought to near ruin, the convent today holds three impressive churches dedicated to holy icons and Russian saints, with great and beautiful domes that can be spotted from a great distance. This is a great example of modern Russian Orthodox architecture, and is worth the time of any visitor to the area.
If you want to find out more about the churches of Ein Kerem, consider taking a Christian day tour in Jerusalem that will cover all the interesting histories and artifacts involved in the churches of Ein Kerem.