For Christians the Holy Land is one of the most sacred places on earth. There you can walk in the footsteps of God himself; you can experience the very places where he lived, preached, died, and rose. Chances are, you know the Bible stories and where they took place.
But here are five surprising facts you may not know.
Known for being the birthplace of Christ, this important destination is precious to the Jews for another reason: the Tomb of Rachel, Jacob’s wife. The Jews consider this to be their third holiest pilgrimage site.
2. Garden of Gethsemane.
Thanks to carbon dating, we’ve learned that some of the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are approximately 2,000 years old. During your pilgrimage, you may actually look at the same trees that surrounded Jesus during his agony.
3. Mount of Olives.
This is the famous place where Jesus’ disciples fell asleep as he prayed in the Garden. The Mount of Olives is also the site of the oldest Jewish cemetery in existence — roughly 3,000 years old with 150,000 buried there.
4. The Western Wall.
Along with devout pilgrims of all faiths praying and marveling at this ancient site, you will see written notes pushed into the crevices of the wall. Each year, Israel receives letters from all over the world addressed to God. These letters are delivered to the wall and later removed and buried at the Mount of Olives to make room for more.
5. Dead Sea Scrolls.
Currently located in the Israel Museum, these ancient scrolls contain nearly all the books of the Hebrew Bible. They were accidentally discovered in the 1940s by teenage goat shepherds tending their flock on the shore of the sea.
Curious about going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land? Discover more here.