The name Ein Karem, which means “Spring of the Vineyard,” has Jewish and Christian origins. Still surrounded by woods and vineyards, Ein Karem is a serene area. According to Jeremiah 6:1 and Nehemiah 3:14, Ein Karem is known as “BeitaKerem or Beth-Haccerem” in the Old Testament.
The Tribe of Judah had authority over the region. The birthplace of John the Baptist and the residence of Zechariah and Elizabeth are Ein Karem’s most well-known New Testament residents. For Christian travelers, it is regarded as one of the top Jerusalem tour locations.
Places of Interest
Five churches and monasteries may be found in Ein Karem:
1. The St. John the Baptist Church
3. Notre Dame de Sion Convent: This nunnery, run by the Zion sisters, has been transformed into a lodging facility.
4. Greek Orthodox St. John Convent: This facility serves Ein Karem’s Greek Orthodox neighborhood. In 1975, the old church (1894) underwent restoration.
5. Russian Monastery of Al Moskovia (called the Gorny Monastery initially). This five-onion-domed building’s construction began in 1905 and wasn’t finished until 2005. Later, gold paint was applied to its domes.
The renowned Mary’s Well, where it is thought that Mary became miraculously pregnant with Jesus, is also a major attraction.
A freshwater spring called Mary’s Spring or the Fountain of the Virgin is located in a valley to the south of the hamlet. According to legend, Mary drank from this spring to satisfy her thirst before ascending the hill to meet Elizabeth.
This spring is where the name Ein Karem comes from. The Arabic words “Ein” (spring) and “Kerem” are where its meaning is derived (vineyard or olive grove). Over the spring sits a tiny, deserted mosque, serving as another additional evidence that this was once an Arab community.
The Desert of St. John, where John the Baptist is said to have lived alone, is marked by a Franciscan convent and a Greek Melkite monastery southwest of Ein Karem, along Route 386.