One of the most charming neighborhoods of Jerusalem is the quaint and picturesque village of Ein Kerem (Hebrew – meaning “Spring of the Vineyard”). The village itself is situated in a serene valley encircled by vibrant greenery and a view of the lovely surrounding hills. Approximately 1 million Christian pilgrims from around the world, when visiting the Holy Land, come to the ancient village of Ein Kerem annually as this is the place where John the Baptist was born and is also the site of the Well where Mary and Elizabeth met. The water from this well is considered holy and many pilgrims drink this holy water which they also take away with them in bottles.
Ein Kerem also attracts thousands of visitors of all faiths who come to stroll along the lovely stone paths and view the delightful arched stone houses and hear the church bells chiming. Many churches have been built since the Byzantine era and in modern times there are active churches and monasteries. Two of the churches, one Catholic and one Greek Orthodox are named after John the Baptist and are built on the ruins of earlier churches.
The Church of the Visitation is situated on the hillside of Ein Kerem and is believed to have been built over John the Baptist’s parents home. Its position commands lovely views of the surrounding hills as well as the valley. The rebuilding of the current church over the original Crusader Church began in the 19th century by Franciscans and in 1955 the church was completed. The courtyard of the Church has a tiled wall with the words of the “Magnificat” written in 42 languages.
Ein Kerem is one of Israel’s tourist treasures with charming stone houses filled with Artists and Sculptors galleries, excellent restaurants and attractive accommodation available in guest houses and Inns