Pilgrimages To The Holy Land: What To Visit, How And When To Go
Pilgrimages to the Holy Land are constantly organized by believers from all over the world and from different religions. The Holy Land currently coincides or has been made to coincide, with the State of Israel and although it is the scene of a war that has lasted for several decades, this place remains sacred for the believers of the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Holy Land owes its charm to its contradictions, its past rich in significant historical facts and the breathtaking beauty of its natural landscapes.
Pilgrimages to the Holy Land are a real immersion in Western and Middle Eastern history and spirituality, a rediscovery of Europe’s cultural roots. There are countless places of interest for the faithful, especially Christians, and it may be impossible to visit them all. There are, however, some essential stages for pilgrims and the first of all is, of course, Jerusalem. In this very ancient and evocative city some of the fundamental events in which Jesus of Nazareth played a leading role have taken place. Currently, in almost every place interested in the miracles and works of the Nazarene there is a sacred building: one of these is the Chapel of the Ascension, which stands on the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane is a fascinating place, where Jesus of Nazareth spent the last moments before the trial and before the crucifixion in prayer. An obligatory stop, therefore, is the passage along the Via Dolorosa, that is the Via del Calvario, which leads to the top of Golgotha, place of the crucifixion and in which now stands the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To commemorate the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist and Pentecost, you must visit Mount Tabor. The most famous place to visit is the Western Wall, better known as the Wailing Wall: this is where the Jews go to pray, but the Wall is also of interest to Muslims, as it seems that Muhammad rested here during a visit to Jerusalem. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land inevitably lead the faithful to visit sacred buildings and monuments, but also natural places that have been the protagonists of the works of Jesus and his disciples. Other fundamental stops are, therefore, the Jordan River and the Lake of Tiberias (or Lake of Galilee), the Mount of the Beatitudes.
Nazareth and Bethlehem are the other two unmissable stops for pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The first is the place where the Annunciation took place and the second is the humble village where Jesus came into the world, the same place where King David was born. In Bethlehem, which is now under Palestinian control, stands the Church of the Nativity, on the Manger Square.
Pilgrimages to the Holy Land are also an opportunity to visit a unique natural site in the world: the Dead Sea. A salt lake in the deepest depression in the world, at the Dead Sea you can enjoy a variety of sporting activities: cycling, jeeps, extreme sports, camel rides and experiences with the Bedouins.
How and when to go to the Holy Land
The Holy Land can be reached by plane from Rome and Milan, from where direct flights depart for Tel Aviv. To reach Israel by boat is possible only from Greece, alternatively it is possible to visit at least one day Jerusalem as a stopover of the cruise ships. The Holy City can be reached from Tel Aviv thanks to the railway, convenient to reach the other sites of interest. The other option is to take advantage of the Arab or Israeli road haulage services, which connect Jerusalem, Nazareth and the West Bank. Again, the choice perhaps less cheap but definitely more convenient is to book an organized pilgrimage.
The Holy Land can be visited throughout the year, but being located in the easternmost part of the Mediterranean, it can be characterized by an intense dry heat in summer, which is why it is more intelligent to organize pilgrimages to the Holy Land in spring and autumn.