A picturesque lane in a village outside of Jerusalem, Ein Karem – the traditional “town in the hill country of Judea” (Luke 1:39) – leads to the Church of John the Baptist, where Christians have marked John’s birthplace for over 1,500 years.
The vestiges of many centuries of destruction and rebirth can all be seen here; mosaics attest to earlier houses of worship, while the inner walls of today’s church, rebuilt in 1674, are covered with beautiful blue and white Spanish tiles.
The most ancient part of this venerable landmark is downstairs. It is the cave where early Christians gathered to worship on the site of the house of Elizabeth and Zachariah. Here, marble reliefs depict John’s birth, his naming, and his baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. After your visit, the church courtyard, shaded by pungent pepper trees, is the perfect place for prayer and Bible study.