About this place

Ein Karem is a neighborhood of Jerusalem where time has stood still. Nestled in a peaceful valley surrounded by stone-terraced agricultural plots, natural groves, and slopes covered in wildflowers, it is reminiscent of rural England. It is often called a village within a city because of its quaint houses draped in ivy and bougainvillea with courtyard cafes, artists’ studios, narrow alleys, and picturesque churches. Ein Karem (or Ein Kerem, meaning “spring of the vineyard”) is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This neighborhood, with its old-world charm, may have been the Biblical village of Beit Hakerem. Ein Karem is the traditional hometown of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, and the birthplace of their son John the Baptist. 

Christian Landmarks in Ein Karem

Mary’s Spring - According to tradition Mary traveled to Ein Karem to visit her cousin Elizabeth. They met at an ancient spring (Mary’s Spring or the Fountain of the Virgin) where women would come to draw water.  Both women were pregnant at the time but Elizabeth only discovered that she was with child when she met Mary and “the baby leapt in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:39-42). 

Church of the Visitation - A path leads from the spring up to the Church of the Visitation, built on the site of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s summer home where Mary stayed until Elizabeth gave birth to John. Parts of earlier churches can still be seen incorporated in the present Franciscan lower church dating back to 1862. The upper level of the church was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi and completed in 1955. The church features some beautiful frescos by Vagharini including a Biblical scene where Vagharini painted Barluzzi into the crowd. The church is built into the side of the rocky slope and in the church is a niche known as the Stone of Hiding where baby John was hidden during Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents.

Zechariah’s summer home where Mary stayed until Elizabeth gave birth to John. Parts of earlier churches can still be seen incorporated in the present Franciscan lower church dating back to 1862. The upper level of the church was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi and completed in 1955. The church features some beautiful frescos by Vagharini including a Biblical scene where Vagharini painted Barluzzi into the crowd. The church is built into the side of the rocky slope and in the church is a niche known as the Stone of Hiding where baby John was hidden during Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents. 

Church of Saint John the Baptist - The Catholic Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (also called St. John in the Mountain) marks the site of John the Baptist’s birth at his family home in the heart of Ein Karem. The Franciscans bought the land and with the help of funding from the Spanish monarchy rebuilt the church incorporating elements of an earlier Crusader and Byzantine church. The church features stunning paintings, mosaics, decorative tiles, and a grotto identified as St. John’s birthplace. The most recent renovations of the church were done in 1939 to designs by Barluzzi. This church shouldn’t be confused with a church of the same name in Jerusalem’s Old City and with the 1894 Eastern Orthodox Church and Convent of St. John the Baptist, also in Ein Karem.

Other religious sites in Ein Karem include the 1860 Notre Dame de Sion Convent where you can enjoy tranquil gardens and stay in the convent guesthouse; and the Al Moskovia Russian Monastery (Gorny or Moscobia Convent) complex where there are three churches. 

Ein Karem Attractions

Ein Karem is famed for its culinary scene where all styles of cuisine are served up in magical courtyard restaurants and cafes. Top Ein Karem eateries can be found on Maayan Street and Ein Karem Street including the well-known Charlotte, Inbal, Karma, Milah, and Pundak restaurants. Culture enthusiasts should check out the Eden-Tamir Music Center where classical music is performed. You’ll find plenty of artists’ studios and galleries simply by wandering the lanes of Ein Karem. Art lovers will also want to see the Chagall Windows in the Abbell Synagogue of the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital (not to be confused with the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus).

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