Christ Church in Jerusalem – Jerusalem, Israel - Atlas Obscura

Christ Church in Jerusalem

Oldest Protestant church in the Middle East, designed to resemble a synagogue. 


The 19th century was marked by British colonial and evangelical ambitions in lands controlled by the crumbling Ottoman empire.

Christ Church was established on land purchased by the Church of England near Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate in 1833. It is the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East, and in a savvy ploy to win converts, it is constructed to resemble a synagogue. There are no crosses to be found, but there are menorahs, stars of David, and other Jewish iconography.

Stone masons from Malta were brought in to construct the Neo-Gothic structure, which mimics other Anglican churches architecturally. However, the facade of the building does not contain overt Christian symbols. Inside, the building resembles a synagogue. The communion table and stained-glass windows reference the Old Testament. Like all synagogues in Jerusalem, the church faces the Temple Mount. The paneling behind the altar is reminiscent of the Torah ark in a synagogue. The only overtly Christian symbols in the church are the engravings of the words of Jesus and the Apostles’ Creed in Hebrew on the Eastern Wall.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the church was attacked by the Jordanian army, who assumed it was a synagogue. To prove that the unusual building was indeed a Christian house of worship, the then rector Rev Hugh Jones, hurried to the souk to buy an olive wood cross to place on the communion table.

Today, the church runs Anglican services in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Christ Church also maintains a reasonably priced guest house.

Know Before You Go

Located near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

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January 13, 2011

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