Ein Kerem (Spring of the Vineyard) is an ancient village and now a neighborhood southwest of Jerusalem. According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born in Ein Kerem, leading to the establishment of many churches and monasteries. In addition to the main Christian holy sites, the village has a large assortment of good restaurants and craft shops.
Church of St. John the Baptist
The Catholic church was built in the second half of the 19th century on the remnants of earlier Byzantine and Crusader churches. Inside are the remains of an ancient mosaic floor and a cave where, according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born. There is also an Eastern Orthodox church with the same name, also built on the remnants of an ancient church.
Church of the Visitation
This is another ancient church in Ein Kerem. There is a mosaic on the wall of the church containing a prayer from the New Testament, which appears in more than forty languages. From the roof of the church you have a breathtaking view of the area.
Monastery of the Sisters of Our Lady of Zion
The monastery of Les Soeurs de Notre-Dame de Sion was founded by two brothers from France, Theodore and Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne, who were born Jewish and converted to Christianity. They established an orphanage here. Alphonse himself lived in the monastery and is buried in its garden.
Built by the Russian Orthodox Church at the end of the 19th century, this church (originally “Gorny Monastery” was nicknamed “Moskovia” (Arabic for Moscow) by the local Arab villagers, because of its tented roof, typical of Russian churches. The monastery has two churches enclosed within a compound wall.
According to Christian tradition, this fresh-water spring is the location where Mary and Elizabeth met. The spring waters are considered holy by Catholic and Orthodox Christian pilgrims. The spring was repaired and renovated by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Arab inhabitants also built a mosque on the site, part of which still remains.
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