Holy Land Travels: Church of the Beatitudes

Israel is also known as the “Holy Land.” If you are a devout Christian and your purpose for traveling to Israel is mostly religious, then you are likely to put a check on the Mount of Beatitudes on your Holy Land travel bucket list.

What and where is the Mount of Beatitudes?

The Mount of Beatitudes (“Har HaOsher” in Hebrew) is one of the most visited sites for the Christian faithful. It is a hill in the north of Israel. Traditionally, it is located on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee, between Capernaum and Gennesaret (or Ginosaur), on the southern slopes of Korazim Plateau. According to tradition, this is where Jesus Christ delivered his most famous discourse, the Sermon on the Mount.

But the present and “actual” site of the Mount of Beatitudes is quite close to Tabgha. That present site is also known as Mount Eremos.

Not surprisingly for a pilgrimage site, the Mount of Beatitudes is a beautiful and serene place – the perfect site for prayer, reflection and a much-needed spiritual growth and renewal.

Apart from the wealth of natural wonders that the Mount of Beatitudes offers, there’s also the remains of a small Byzantine-era church and a 20th-century Roman Catholic Franciscan chapel that stands in the old church’s place. The chapel is simply called the Church of the Beatitudes.

Church of the Beatitudes – history

The Church of the Beatitudes is one of the more modern religious buildings in Israel. It stands on the ruins of the small Byzantine-era church which dates back to the 4th century A.D. The ruins of the church also contains a rock-cut cistern underneath it and the remains of a small monastery to the southeast. The church’s original mosaic floor was also found, recovered and is now on display in Capernuam.

Since the 4th century, Christian pilgrims have commemorated the approximate site. The 4th-century pilgrim Egeria wrote, following her description on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes (which is also located in Tabgha), “Near there on a mountain is the cave to which the Savior climbed and spoke the Beatitudes.” Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at the Church of Beatitudes during their pastoral visits to the Holy Land.

Construction of the Church of the Beatitudes began in 1936 and completed in 1938. The architectural style of this modern church is Neo-Byzantine.

There was some interesting twist regarding the funding for the church’s construction. It was designed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi, under the commission from the Italian Mission Society with funding from no less than the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who was an atheist who made attacks against Christianity, particularly the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church of the Beatitudes offers spectacular views of the Sea of Galilee. It is not a big church, so you can complete your visit there in about an hour. The grounds that surround the church are beautiful, with a lovely rose garden.

Mount of Beatitudes and Church of the Beatitudes – opening hours and entrance fees

The site is open daily from 08:00 to 11:45 and 14:00 to 16:45, with a few exceptions:

  • Holy Thursday and December 31 (New Year’s Eve) – open only in the morning.
  • Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and January 1 (New Year’s Day) – closed.

There is no entrance fee, but parking will cost you money:

  • Minibus parking – 30 NIS
  • Car parking – 10 NIS

(Note: opening hours, entrance and parking fees are updated as of June 2019, so they are subject to change without prior notice).