Ein Kerem (also Ain Karem or Ein Karem) is often called a village within a city; it is a pastoral community on the southwestern edge of Jerusalem built on the hills among natural groves and forests. Ein Kerem (Spring of the Vineyard)'s picturesque streets are lined with quaint cottages and stone buildings dripping with honeysuckle and bougainvillea. Most of the houses have flourishing gardens with bright colored flowers and vibrant shrubs while other homes boast courtyards. This garden-rich neighborhood is even more breathtaking in January and February when the almond trees are in bloom. Many of the houses have been converted into stores selling local arts and crafts or into restaurants where local delicacies, traditional Israeli cuisine, and chef-style food is served. The trendy restaurants, popular bars, galleries and cultural atmosphere of Ein Kerem attracts locals and tourists alike.
Ein Kerem in the Bible
The Ein Kerem neighborhood has a rich religious history. It is mentioned in the Books of Nehemiah and Jeremiah and in Joshua as "Carem." In the Christian tradition, Ein Kerem was the birthplace of John the Baptist. Ein Kerem is also the site of Mary's Well, where Mary is believed to have met with her cousin Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother. In some Christian traditions, the well was the place where both future mothers became miraculously pregnant.
Ein Kerem Attractions
Apart from wandering through the delightful streets of Ein Kerem and enjoying the quaint stores and the culinary offerings, Ein Kerem is also home to several tourist attractions. The neighborhood is home to several churches and monasteries including the Al Moskovia Russian Orthodox Monastery; the Notre Dame de Sion Convent and the Church of St. John the Baptist. Religious sites are the main attraction for Christian tourists visiting Ein Kerem.
The Church of the Visitation was built in 1955 and designed by Antonio Barluzzi. The church stands on the site of John the Baptist's parental summer home and on the remains of an earlier church. The Monastery of St. John ba-Harim was built around a grotto where John the Baptist is said to have been born and on the remains of a Crusader church. Mary's Spring has been a pilgrimage site since the 14th century as Mary is thought to have drunk from the well and met with Elizabeth at this location.
Music and culture enthusiasts might enjoy a visit to the Eden-Tamir Music Center to hear piano recitals and chamber music or to explore the many unique art galleries in Ein Kerem. Just over the hill is the Hadassah Medical Center where you can see the Biblically-inspired attractions of Ein Kerem stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall.