Israel church: lesser-known churches to see

Jerusalem church, Israel

As a land of tremendous importance to Christianity, there is a multitude of incredibly important churches in Israel, most of which tell stories of the life of Jesus. However, beyond world-renowned sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, and many more, there are other, lesser-known important and impressive churches in Israel, which are a great visit on their own. Here are some of the best of them.

Israel churches: Jaffa

As a historical city that had a Christian community for centuries, many beautiful churches have been built in Jaffa over the years. Here are some of the most highly-recommended churches to visit in the historic port city.

St. Peter’s Church

This is the most prominent, well-known, and visited of the Jaffa churches, mainly due to its location, to its bell tower, and the events that befell it throughout history. The Franciscan church is located in the northwest corner of Jaffa Hill and overlooks the Jaffa bay and Tel Aviv. The church was the main church of the Catholic community in Jaffa until the establishment of St. Anthony’s Church in 1932, and the papal delegation has been sitting here since 1993. Today it is mainly used by foreign workers who live mostly in southern Tel Aviv.

St. Peter’s Church and the adjacent monastery were built on the remains of a Crusader fortress, which stood on the remains of a Byzantine church. In the 17th century, the Ottomans allowed the Franciscans to settle there, so a hostel was built here that served the pilgrims to Jerusalem and, according to tradition, even hosted Napoleon, who stayed there during his campaign of conquest in the Land of Israel in 1799.

The current church was built at the beginning of the 20th century in the Baroque style with a long hall and a rounded ceiling supported by massive columns. Unlike most churches, St. Peter’s Church faces west, to Rome, where Peter was sent, and the direction from which the Archangel Michael came to Peter’s dream, which according to tradition took place here.

In the churchyard stands the statue of Louis IX, King of France, who was sanctified for his part in the Crusades. Its walls are decorated with oil paintings depicting St. George fighting the dragon and in front of it is a painting in which the Archangel Michael appears to Peter.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 8:00-11:45, 15:00-17:00, Sunday: 15:00-19:00

St. Anthony’s Church

The church, which was built in 1932 and has a pointed clock tower in front of it, is the central Catholic church of Jaffa today. It is named after a Franciscan monk in Padua, the patron saint of the Franciscans. Today the church serves mostly foreign workers and visitors. The church is adjacent to the Terra Santa school.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10:00-18:00, Sunday: 9:00-19:00, Saturday 11:00-18:00

Saint Peter and Saint Tabitha Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox church is located about three kilometers/2 miles northeast of Jaffa. The church complex covers an area of ​​32 dunams and in its center stands the Provoslavic church, which stands out from afar with its spiers, its bell tower, and its red roof. The church is almost entirely surrounded by pines, which make it one of the nice green lungs of the eastern part of Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

The complex also includes an ancient Jewish cemetery, and in 1835 Father Avraham Norov found a grave there attributed to Tabitha, a young woman from Jaffa whom St. Peter resurrected after she fell ill and died. The story of the miracle that appears in the New Testament (Acts 9:43-32) is another layer in the connection between Peter and Jaffa and is the reason why the church was sanctified.

St. Anthony’s Coptic Orthodox Church

The Copts, Egyptian Christians, arrived in Jaffa in the 19th century following the invasion of the Land of Israel by Ibrahim Pasha and in 1855 they built the prominent church with its red dome. It is named after St. Anthony who lived as a hermit in the desert in Egypt in the fourth century AD and is considered the founder of Christian monasticism.

The church complex includes a hotel that is inactive but has a wonderful architectural appearance and a garden with a water well and irrigation channels. Usually, the church is closed, but you can try to knock on the gate and see if its brothers will come and open it.

Israel churches: Galilee

St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church – Kfar Yasif

At the top of the hill, in the heart of the ancient village surrounded by the stone houses of the Christian quarter, hides the church of St. George, built between the 17th and 19th centuries, which tells the story of the Greek Orthodox community in Kfar Yasif.

In its pleasant gloom, the church inspires those who come to it with a sense of inner calm and peace. The large chandelier hanging from the ceiling sparkles with gold and copper colors. The iconostasis wall is decorated with paintings commemorating Christ, Mary and the apostles, and the priest, Abuna Atallah – the father of the Orthodox Christian community who helped build a school near the church whose students, Christians, Muslims and Druze, study side by side with peace and respect.

Mount Berniki

At the southern end of the Tiberias Promenade lies the Greek Orthodox Church. It is a complex of a monastery and a church dedicated to Peter and Paul, located on the remains of a synagogue that was abandoned in the 17th century. There are no set opening hours here, but you can simply knock on the door and wait for an answer if you wish to enter the church.

The yard and building are beautiful and well-kept, with plenty of vegetation and even a parrot cage. We first go down to the church, which is a combination of three prayer houses. What characterizes them is the wall of icons found in each of the prayer houses, as well as an abundance of figures of saints. It is recommended to go up to the roof of the building and enjoy a spectacular view from a spacious balcony, towards the Sea of ​​Galilee and the Golan Heights.

Churches in Acre City

St. Andrew’s Church

The church is dedicated to Saint Andrew, is one of the twelve apostles of Christ and the younger brother of Saint Peter. Thanks to its location facing the Mediterranean Sea, the cruciform structure stood out to the ships coming to the city and served as a signpost for them.

Unlike other churches, the foundations of the building are directed towards Jerusalem, and therefore the hypothesis was raised that the Crusader building is an ancient synagogue built in the Middle Ages. According to this hypothesis, the synagogue was built by Jewish merchants from Pisa, whose quarter in Acre City was east of the church.

St. John’s Church

The church stands on the wall between the section known as the “Pisanian harbor” to the east and the lighthouse to the west.
The church building is painted white and has a red tiled roof similar to churches in the Greek islands. On the roof of the church facing the sea is a square bell tower which is white, built in the Gothic style, and above it is a red cone-shaped roof on top of which a cross is planted.

To the left of the church roof is a round tower with a red dome on top and above it an iron cross. The church is built on two intersecting vaults, belonging to a system of four vaults, two of which are outside the church, to the east. These vaults probably belonged to the church of St. Andrew.

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