The Judean Desert

The Judean Desert

9 days / 8 nights
Bethlehem, Cana, Dead Sea, Ein Karem, Holy Sepulchre, Israel Museum, Jericho, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Judean Desert, Masada, Mount of Olives, Mount Tabor, Mount Zion, Nazareth, Old City of Jerusalem, Sea of Galilee, Tel Aviv, Via Dolorosa, Western Wall

Day by Day

Schedule

  • Day 1

    Sea of Galilee / Tel Aviv

    Arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport Terminal 3 and assistance upon arrival by a local representative. Drive to Galilee, check-in in Galilee. Dinner and overnight.

  • Day 2

    Sea of Galilee

    After breakfast, we will visit the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, located in Tabgha, on the northwest shore of the sea of Galilee (the ancient Heptapegon). The church is modern but stands on the site of 4th and 5th century churches. It preserves a splendid early Christian mosaic as well as the traditional stone on which the miraculous meal was laid. Later on visit to the Mount of Beatitudes, where the « Sermon on the Mount » took place, recorded in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. Continue to visit St Peter’s Primacy church. The church is a modest Franciscan chapel that incorporates part of a 4th century church. It commemorates Jesus’s confirming Peter as the head of His church, after a breakfast at the shore. After Tabgha, we will head to visit Capernaum, frequently mentioned in the gospels and Jesus’s main base during his Galilean ministry. It is referred to as Jesus’s « own city » (Mt 9 :1; Mk 2 :1). In the afternoon we take a boat ride on the lake. Holy Mass during the day. Back to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.

  • Day 3

    Cana / Nazareth

    After breakfast we drive to Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus and one of the most important Christian sites in the Holy Land. Visit to the Basilica of the Annunciation. The Basilica is a modern Catholic church built over the remains of byzantine crusader churches. It is placed upon the cave in which the Virgin Mary received the news from the Archangel Gabriel: that she would give birth to Jesus, our Savior. The site has been a pilgrimage destination since earliest times and remains an important stop for Holy Land pilgrims. Visit of the town of Nazareth as well as the center of Mary of Nazareth, which presents the life of the Holy Family. Stop at Cana to visit the church: this is the place where the first miracle of Jesus took place. Time for prayer. Holy Mass during the day. Dinner and overnight.

  • Day 4

    Bethlehem / Jericho / Jordan River / Judean Desert / Mount Tabor

    After breakfast we drive towards the mountain of the Transfiguration, Mount Tabor. It is a hill rising at 500 m above the Jezreel Valley. Due to its strategic location it has been an important fortress since ancient times. The Christian tradition has identified this mountain as the place of the Transfiguration of Christ. We continue towards the town of Jericho, which is one of the oldest cities in the world. We stop at the eastern part of Jericho, next to the Jordan River, at the site called «Kaser el Yahoud» where according to tradition Jesus was baptized. Afterwards visit of Tell el Sultan, the old Jericho: we will stop next to a sycamore tree to mention the conversion of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector. Then we continue to Bethlehem, the birth place of our Lord. Perched on a hill at the edge of the Judean desert just 8 kilometers south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is the childhood home of king David. Holy Mass during the day. Check-in in Bethlehem for one night. Dinner and overnight.

  • Day 5

    Bethlehem / Ein Karem / Jerusalem

    Visit of the Nativity church, which enshrines the birthplace of Jesus. Later on, we continue to the nearby village of Beit Sahour. Visit of the Franciscan chapel at Shepherds’ Field. Christian tradition has identified this place as the one where angels appeared to the shepherds, and announced to them the birth of Christ our Savior. We drive through the city to reach Ein Karem, built over the hometown of John the Baptist’s parents. The Church of the Visitation stands high up on the hillside of Ein Karem. Holy Mass during the day. Check-in in Jerusalem for three nights, dinner and overnight.

  • Day 6

    Mount of Olives / Mount Zion

    After breakfast we drive to the top of Mount of Olives to visit the Pater Noster church, built on the site of the ancient Eleona church. The place where Jesus taught his disciples the prayer of the Our Father. We continue going down the mountain and visit the Franciscan church of Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Then we visit the Garden of Olives, with the Church of All Nations, which was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi in 1924. Officially named the Basilica of the Agony, the church is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem next to the Garden of Gethsemane. The church enshrines a section of a rock where Jesus prayed on the night of His arrest. Then we drive to Mount Zion and visit the Dormition Abbey, which commemorates the falling asleep of the Virgin Mary before Her Assumption. The church was dedicated by the German Benedictines in 1910. Later on we proceed to visit the Upper Room, the Cenacle. The chapel was originally built by the crusaders. Next, a visit to St. Peter in Gallicantu church, where the congregation of the Assumptionists has revealed the remnants of the prison at the house of Caiaphas in which our Lord spent the night prior to His trial before Pontius Pilate. Holy Mass during the day.

  • Day 7

    Holy Sepulchre / Old City of Jerusalem / Via Dolorosa / Western Wall

    We will start the day by following the traditional path of the Way of the Cross, known as «Via Dolorosa »: a procession of 14 stations starting next to the Flagellation Chapel and ending at the empty tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Then we visit this church, also known as the church of the Resurrection (Anastasis), the holiest Christian site in the world. This Basilica encompasses the Golgotha or Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the Holy Tomb (sepulchre) where He was buried. Time for prayer. Later on we visit St Anne’ s church, which is a beautiful 12th century crusader church, erected over the traditional site of the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. It is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. The church is right next to the Bethesda Pool, believed to be the site where Jesus healed a paralytic (John 5 :1-15). Here we can see ruins of a roman temple to the god of medicine, as well as remains of a Byzantine church built over the temple and the pool. Later on we will pass through the Jewish quarter to get to the Wailing Wall, an impressive heritage and the holiest site for the Jews, which was built by Herod the Great, finished around 19 BC. Herod the Great extended the mount’s natural plateau by enclosing the area with four massive retaining walls and filling the voids. Later on we will pass through the Jewish quarter to get to the Wailing Wall, an impressive heritage and the holiest site for the Jews. It was part of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, built by Herod the Great and finished around 19 BC. Herod the Great extended the mount’s natural plateau by enclosing the area with four massive retaining walls and filling the voids. Holy Mass during the day. Back to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.

  • Day 8

    Dead Sea / Israel Museum / Jerusalem / Masada

    After breakfast we will visit the Jerusalem Second Temple period model, that helps to better understand the topography of the city two thousand years ago as well as to localize the main buildings, such as the Temple. Then we drive to the eastern part of Israel to reach the Judean desert. Visit of Masada, one of the most exciting and frequently-toured places in Israel. It relates a story of perseverance and power, faith and surrender, ambitions, and a tragic end. The fortress was built more than two thousand years ago by Herod the Great. Then we stop in the Dead Sea area, the lowest place on Earth. Back to Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight.

  • Day 9

    Jerusalem / Tel Aviv

    In the morning free time in the Old City of Jerusalem. Then transfer to Ben Gurion airport for departure formalities (3 hours are required by the Israeli security). Have a good flight!