Ein Kerem (or Ein Karem) village is a few minutes from Jerusalem; down the hill from Hadassah Hospital and Yad VaShem. Ein Karem is a beautiful and tranquil village (almost European), full of old houses and churches. It is significant in Christian tradition as the birth place of John and the site (at the well) where Mary & Elizabeth met.
A spring that provides water to the villagers bring forth settlement and commercial activity in Ein Kerem from the ancient times. Archeological evidence suggests that settlement in Ein Kerem took place as early as the second century B.C.E. Ein Kerem was mentioned after the Islamic conquest, and was mentioned again under the name St. Jehan de Bois (“Saint John in the Mountains”) during the Crusader period.
Today, Ein Karem has a countrified pretty village feel that attracts visitors of all denominations and is very photogenic (check out Ein Kerem Album). Sometimes it is hard to believe that Ein Kerem is just a short journey from the hustle of Jerusalem – it is a charming, quaint sort of place. With Ein Kerem’s beautiful natural groves and the heart-stopping landscape provided by Jerusalem Hills, it feels like you’re a world away.
Exploring Ein Kerem
Many tourists, especially the first-timers, choose guided tours in Ein Kerem, although it is possible that you can explore the neighborhood on your own. Usually, all the walking tours start in the heart of the village as well. In Ein Kerem, you would love to allow yourself to be “lost” in time exploring its breathtaking beauty, simplicity, and quaint charm. You can wander through the alleyways as long as you want, to your heart’s content, savoring every moment.
You will be thankful that modern developments have not yet crept into Ein Kerem. It remains a charming pastoral village.
Being surrounded by mountains, valleys, and forests which have considerably preserved Ein Kerem’s essence, it is the perfect place to get disconnected from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem.
Popular among pilgrims
Israel is the “Holy Land,” so it is dotted with several sacred sites that have been attended by the faithful of many religions and denominations. Ein Kerem is no exception. Throngs of Christian pilgrims go to Ein Kerem, as it is believed to be the site where Elizabeth miraculously conceived and eventually gave birth to a child, who would be John the Baptist. Tradition holds that during Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she was visited by her cousin Mary, who was also pregnant, with Jesus — and for this reason the local well in the village is called “Mary’s Well.”
Thousands of pilgrims visit Mary’s Well to drink its holy water. It’s not unusual that many of them would bring their own bottles to take the holy water away with them. Today, Ein Kerem is dotted with several churches and monasteries.
Ein Karem is a perfect place to wander, visit Mary’s Well, enjoy the views and have a coffee or a full meal at any of the village’s numerous cafes and restaurants (kosher and non-kosher).
Ein Kerem is wheelchair-accessible in the same way any village is — some of the streets are on the steep side.
Getting To Ein Karem
It is easy enough to get to Ein Kerem – by car either from behind Yad Vashem or the longer route via Hadassah Hospital. It is also a fairly short taxi ride and you can also take the 17 or 17a buses.