Religious sites in Israel

Western Wall

The Western Wall or Wailing Wall is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, in a large rectangular structure topped by a huge flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple ...
Founded: 19 BCE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Church of the Redeemer

The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is the second Protestant church in Jerusalem. Built on land given to King William I of Prussia (after 1870 Kaiser Wilhelm I) in 1869 by Sultan Abdülaziz of the Ottoman Empire, the church was constructed from 1892 to 1898. The church currently houses Lutheran congregations that worship in Arabic, German, Danish, and English. The archaeological park Durch die Zeiten ('Through t ...
Founded: 1892-1898 | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, a few steps away from the Muristan. The church contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, at a place known as 'Calvary' or 'Golgotha', and Jesus"s empty tomb, where h ...
Founded: 335 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was initially completed in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna, built on the site of the Roman temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which had in turn been built on the site of the Second Jewish Temple, destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The original dome ...
Founded: 691 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Church of Saint John the Baptist

The Church of Saint John the Baptist in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem is a small Greek Orthodox church. In its current form, most of the above-ground church dates to the 11th century, and the crypt to the Late Roman or Byzantine period (between ca. 324 and 500 CE). According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, the head of St. John the Baptist was held in this church. The first structure, a north-south oriente ...
Founded: 324-500 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Whilst the entire site on which the silver-domed mosque sits, along with the Dome of the Rock, seventeen gates, and four minarets, was itself historically known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, today a narrower definition prevails, and the wider compound is usually referred to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Mu ...
Founded: 705 CE | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Hurva Synagogue

The Hurva Synagogue is a a prominent landmark of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. The synagogue was founded in the early 18th century by followers of Judah heHasid, but it was destroyed by Muslims a few years later in 1721. The plot lay in ruins for over 140 years and became known as the Ruin, or Hurva. In 1864, the Perushim rebuilt the synagogue, and although officially named the Beis Yaakov Synagogue, it retained ...
Founded: 1856/2010 | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

El-Jazzar Mosque

The el-Jazzar Mosque inside the walls of the old city of Acre is named after the Ottoman Bosnian governor Ahmad Pasha el-Jazzar ('the Butcher'). El-Jazzar ordered the mosque"s construction in 1781 and had it completed within the year. Despite lacking architectural training, el-Jazzar was the architect of the mosque, drawing up its plans and design, and supervising its entire construction. In addition to t ...
Founded: 1781 | Location: Acre, Israel

Al-Muallaq Mosque

Al-Muallaq Mosque was built in 1758 by the Arab ruler of Acre, Zahir al-Umar. It was built in a courtyard on the site of a structure commissioned by the Crusaders and which later became the gate to the Genoaese quarter of the city. Up until 1746, the structure was used as a synagogue by Acre"s Jewish residents, called the Ramchal Synagogue. The Jews still owned the building when Zahir chose to transform it into a mos ...
Founded: 1758 | Location: Acre, Israel

Church of Saint Anne

The Church of Saint Anne is a Roman Catholic church, located at the start of the Via Dolorosa, near the Lions" Gate and churches of the Flagellation and Condemnation, in the Muslim Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. The austere stone interior and extraordinary acoustics make it a fine example of medieval architecture. During the Roman Period a pagan shrine to either the Egyptian god Serapis (Asclep ...
Founded: 1131-1138 | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Terra Sancta Church

The Terra Sancta Church is the name given to one of the two Franciscan-run Roman Catholic churches located in the Old City of Acre in northern Israel, the other one being the Church of St. John the Baptist. According to historical documents of Acre, since the thirteenth century the Franciscans gave great importance to the city. They believed that the founder of the Order, St. Francis of Assisi, visited the city between ...
Founded: 1673 | Location: Acre, Israel

Cathedral of Saint James

Nestled within a walled compound in the ancient Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Church of St James is one of the most ornately decorated places of worship in the Holy Land. This ancient church, part of which dates to AD 420, is the cathedral of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion, in AD 301, and Armenian Christians ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Monastery of the Cross

The Monastery of the Cross was built in the eleventh century, during the reign of King Bagrat IV by the Georgian Giorgi-Prokhore of Shavsheti. It is believed that the site was originally consecrated in the fourth century under the instruction of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who later gave the site to king Mirian III of Kartli after the conversion of his kingdom to Christianity in 327 AD. Legend has i ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).