Following my recent trip to the Holy Land, I’d love to summarise my top 5 Churches in Jerusalem. There are many famous churches in Jerusalem; my top 5 have been chosen based on the combination of religious significance combined with architectural beauty. A visit to the Holy City allows you to walk in the footsteps of Christ himself.
Top Churches of Jerusalem:
5. Peter in Gallicantu
Located just outside the old city walls on the Eastern slope of Mount Zion, this Roman Catholic Church was built to commemorate Peter’s Denial. All Churches of Jerusalem have great religious significance. The word Gallicantu in Latin for denial, and according to the Bible, it was said that Peter would deny Jesus three times, before the cock crows twice (Mark 14:30). This is symbolised by the golden rooster on the sanctuary roof.
Inside Peter in Gallicantu, the stations of the cross are displayed along with multi-coloured mosaics depicting scenes from the New Testament. But, as with many Jerusalem churches, it’s what lies beneath that makes this place so astounding. The ruins on which the church is built appear to be of Caiaphus’ Palace. Therefore, this could well have been the place where Jesus himself was imprisoned. To explore the caves beneath is a moving and eye-opening experience. From Peter in Gallicantu, stairs lead down to the Kidron Valley, where Jesus is said to have walked to take himself to his own arrest in the garden of Gethsemane.
4. Dormition Abbey
Dormition Abbey is a German Catholic Church located just outside the City Walls on Mount Zion near Zion Gate. It was established by the Benedictine order in the 5th Century. The Abbey is of key importance to Roman Catholics because it is on the spot where this church was built that Mary died. Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that Mary, mother of God ascended to heaven (body and soul).
Head down the crypt spiral staircases to the right and left of the main church, and you will find yourself in a shrine to Mary, mother of God, along with some more stunning New Testament colourful mosaics.
3. Church of Mary Magdeline
The Church of Mary Magdalene is a Russian Orthodox Church located on the Mount of Olives, recognisable with seven beautiful golden onion shaped domes. This is religiously significant because according to Mark’s gospel, Mary Magdalene was a close friend of Jesus and the first person to see the resurrected Christ. The Church was built in 1886 by Tsar Alexander III in honour of his mother (Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia).
2. Church of all Nations
This Roman Catholic church in Jerusalem was completed in 1924 using funds of many different countries and is visited by Christian pilgrims of all denominations. It lies at the foot of mount of Olives and is instantly recognisable by its stunning external mosaic.
Many Churches of Jerusalem are built on or near a key event in the life or passion (death) of Christ. The religious significance of this beautiful church is that it is built near the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested. It also enshrines a section of bedrock on which Jesus himself allegedly prayed.
1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The highlight of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for any Christian pilgrim or visitor alike is the tomb of Jesus Christ himself. It’s sometimes called the Church of the Resurrection, as the tomb is empty and Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe in a physical resurrection of Christ.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is shared by several Christian denominations, predominantly Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic.
Staying in Jerusalem
If you are visiting the top churches of Jerusalem, you will find the city walkable and easy to navigate. I recommend that you stay either within the old city walls (there are lots of AirBnB options) or in the New City (Jewish area).
If you are travelling on a budget, or a solo traveller looking to connect with other travellers, stay at Abraham Hostel. They provide plenty of tours of Jerusalem and day tours out of the city (e.g. Nazareth, Hebron, Dead Sea and Bethlehem).
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here:
Further Reading on Jerusalem
If you enjoyed this article on my top churches of Jerusalem you might also like to read about…
- Where to Stay in Jerusalem
- Where to Eat in Jerusalem – Falafel, Vegan and International Eats
- City of David – The Real Ancient Jerusalem
- Travel Israel – How Much to Budget for Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
What to Pack for Israel
Casual clothing works well for travelling in Israel, especially loose comfortable trousers, T-shirts and cotton or linen tops.
As you will probably be visiting many religious destinations, avoid spaghetti strap tops and tank tops. Long cool dresses are fine but I would avoid shoulders on show. Take a good pair of walking trousers and a pair of comfy leggings. A head scarf is a great thing to take to cover your head or shoulders if necessary at a place of worship and can also be used to keep warm if the weather changes.