For a country that is so old (some cities claim to be 3,000 years old) much of Israel is rebuilt. We visited over twenty churches in our travels across the country, yet few of them were more than 100 years old. What gives?
The answer to this seeming dilemma is that Israel is an old country, but it has endured so much destruction over the years that much of the country is newly built.
In connection with this new construction, the world must thank the Franciscan Order which owns a large part of the Holy Land. They have purchased many of the sites first identified by St Helena, mother of Constantine, and have erected churches on these spots to preserve them as pilgrimage and tourist sites for the world to enjoy.
In addition, the Franciscans have hired top religious architects, like Antonio Berluzzi, to design and construct these churches and to make them magnets for visitors of all faiths and philosophies.
We must also thank the Israeli government for preserving archaeological sites that are associated with the Old Testament and the New Testament and for developing these places so that they can be visited by the hordes of pilgrims and tourists who come here each year.
As a happy traveler who has just returned from this incredible country, I must say that, even though I expected “very old” in Israel and received “very new,” the experience was nevertheless unbelievably memorable..