Church of the Visitation, Jerusalem – Visitors Guide (with Map and Hours)


Church of the Visitation, Ein Kerem

According to tradition, at the spot of Church of the Visitation, Mary met her cousin Elizabeth and sang a hymn of praise (the Magnificat). Let’s begin exploring!

Offers:

  • Black Friday Deals on Booking.com are available from 18 November until 1 December 2021. Get 30% discount at participating properties. And stay from November 18 2021 until 30 June 2022. See additional details here.
  • Get 5% off for your next vacation at Isrotel.
  • Get 10% off for your next tour at Bein Harim with coupon code LEV10#12306.
  • x
    Agamon Hula - אגמון החולה

Map

Ein Kerem was an ancient village in the Jerusalem district. And now, it is one of the neighborhoods in southwest Jerusalem.

Map of the area:

And here is the map of Ein Kerem:

Map of Ein Karem (Ein Kerem)
Map of Ein Karem (Ein Kerem)

Notes:

  • You can see the Church of the Visitation at the bottom left corner.
  • You can click on the image to enlarge it.
  • The map also lists restaurants (blue), artists (green), and B&B (red).
Christian Places in Ein Karem (Ein Kerem)
Christian Places in Ein Karem (Ein Kerem)

Directions

You can find the updated directions in the guide to Ein Kerem. From the bus station or the parking, you walk towards Mary’s Spring. And from Mary’s Spring, take the stairs towards The Church of the Visitation.

Church of the Visitation
Entrance to the Church of the Visitation

Note: as you can see in the photo above, they ask visitors to wear modest closes.

Basic Info

One tradition attributes the construction of the first church of Ein Karem to Empress Helena of Constantinople, Constantine I’s mother, who identified the site as the home of John’s father, Zachary, and the place where Elizabeth and her infant son hid from Herod’s soldiers.

Possibly due to the Muslim takeover of Jerusalem in 638, the original shrine must have gone out of reach for Christian pilgrims. By the time the Crusaders conquered the Holy Land, they had found in Ein Karem two different locations had worshiped in connection with the main points of interest for pilgrims: the meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, the home of Zachary and Elizabeth, the birth of John, and the hiding place of Elizabeth and John. They erected two main churches here, the precursors of today’s Church of St John the Baptist and the Church of the Visitation. After the departure of the Crusaders, the different traditions shifted back and forth between the two locations.

At the site of the Church of the Visitation, the Crusaders erected a two-story church dedicated to the meeting between Elizabeth and Mary over the ancient ruins they found here. When the Crusaders were pushed out of the Holy Land, the church gradually deteriorated. In the 14th century, it was for a while under Armenian monks’ care, but in 1480 a pilgrim reports only ruins from the site. The Franciscans bought the property from an Arab family in 1679, excavated the grounds in 1937, and erected a new church in the following years, preserving all extant Byzantine and Crusader remains as part of the new shrine.

Source: Wikipedia

The Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem
Church of the Visitation

Opening Hours

October – March: 08:00 – 11:45 and 14:30 – 17:00
April – September: 08:00 – 11:45 and 14:30 – 18:00

Opening Hours of the Church of the Visitation
Opening Hours of the Church of the Visitation

As you enter the Church of the Visitation, you will see an entrance to the church under the west facade mosaic.

West facade mosaic - Church of the Visitation
West facade mosaic – Church of the Visitation

But if instead of entering the church, you will turn to the left, then after a dozen steps you will find stairs. These stairs lead to the upper church.

Stairs to the upper Church
Stairs to the upper Church

The Upper Church

Church of the Visitation - upper church
Church of the Visitation – upper church

The walls of the upper church are decorated with frescoes depicting episodes such as The Wedding of Cana; the Council of Ephesus (431), which defined Mary as Theotokos or the Mother of God; the Battle of Lepanto (1571) in which a united Christian fleet defeated an Ottoman fleet, a victory ascribed to the help of the Virgin Mary under the title Mary Help of Christians and celebrated by the Catholic Church with the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary; Duns Scotus defending his thesis on the Immaculate Conception at the Sorbonne in Paris;

Mary protecting Christians with her mantle according to the oldest extant hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Theotokos, the Sub tuum presidium. Verses from the Magnificat are painted on the columns of the church. In the corners are the four cardinal virtues, and around the windows on the left side of the church are Christian writers (Fathers and Doctors of the Church) who have written about the Virgin Mary. The ceiling is painted in the Tuscan style of the 14th century.

Source: Wikipedia

Church of the Visitation - upper church
Church of the Visitation – upper church
Mosaic floor at the upper church
Mosaic floor at the upper church
The garden near the upper church
The garden near the upper church

And now let’s head to the lower church.

Church of the Visitation

The Lower Church

The lower church contains a narrow medieval barrel-vaulted crypt ending with a well-head from which, according to tradition, Elizabeth and her infant drank. The well is connected to a Roman or Byzantine overflow pipe running under the medieval floor. Also preserved are the remains of the ancient church and beautiful mosaic floors.

The rock with a cleft next to the entrance of the medieval crypt is said to mark the site where the mountain opened up to hide Elizabeth and the infant John from Herod’s soldiers – this is the “Rock of Concealment.” This tradition is based on the 2nd-century apocryphal Protoevangelium of James 22:3.

The interior of the lower church holds Italianate frescoes depicting Zachary at the altar of the Lord, the Visitation, and Elizabeth hiding her son during the Massacre of the Innocents.

Source: Wikipedia

The grotto and well in the lower church
The grotto and well in the lower church
The rock which hid Elizabeth & John
The rock which hid Elizabeth & John

The Courtyard

The courtyard contains a statue of Mary and Elizabeth, and on the wall opposite the entrance to the lower church are forty-two ceramic tablets bearing the verses of the Magnificat in as many different languages. On the facade of the upper church is a striking mosaic commemorating the Visitation. Next to the church proper, a Crusader hall of the 12th century survived in good condition.

Source: Wikipedia

The courtyars at Church of the Visitation
The courtyars at Church of the Visitation
Church of the Visitation
Church of the Visitation

After visiting the Church of the Visitation, you can visit many other places in Ein Kerem. You can find more info on the guide to Ein Kerem.

Summary

There are additional churches and small gems in Ein Kerem, and by combining them, you can make a lovely half a day trip.

Have you been to Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

For additional points of interest nearby check out Ein Kerem and Jerusalem.

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  
Did not find what you were looking for? Email me at hi@israel-in-photos.com, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts