Situated in Lower-Galilee, only a two-hour car drive from the Ben-Gurion International airport, is Nazareth (pop. 60,000), the town where Jesus spent his childhood and youth, and from which he set
forth to visit the towns and villages of Galilee (Matt. 2:23). Our visit will take us through the steep
winding streets, the open-air market, its special smells following us to the Basilica of the
Annunciation on Casa Nova street. Although a modern structure on the outside (built in the 1960�s),
it quickly changes to reveal the Grotto, which by tradition, was the home of Mary and the site of the
Annunciation. The compound is held by the Roman Catholic Church.
Up a side street, off the main Paulus 6th. Rd we come to the Church of Mary�s Well. The 17th
century church is built over the traditional location of Mary�s Well, the only source of water in the
city. Afterwards, enjoy a pleasant afternoon visiting sites in the largest Arab city in Israel: there are more
than 30 churches and monasteries representing the various Christian denominations.
Christian tradition placed the scene of the Transfiguration on the mountain, and
churches to commemorate the event were built on the mount (Matt. 17:1-9). The Franciscan church
erected in 1919, dominates the landscape, built on ruins of a 4th. century basilica.
Mt. Tabor is mentioned in earlier periods. During the time of Deborah the tribes of Israel gathered
there to give battle to the Canaanites (Judges 4:5-16).
Not far to the east, also in the valley is the Jewish village of Kfar Tabor, established 1902 with the aid of the Rothschild family. The original buildings still stand today in the village center decorated with early farming tools.
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"There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus and his disciples were called to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him: they have no wine. And they were set there six water pots of stone after the manner of the purifying of the Jews. Jesus saith unto them: "Fill the water pots with water... When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine . . . the beginning of miricles did Jesus in Cana." (John 2:1-11).
Today Cana is an Arab village, with a population of 6,500 mostly Moslems The Franciscan Church in the center of the village, up a stone paved street, is built upon the remains of an earlier church from the 6th century, which believed was built on the site where the miracle took place. Souvenirs of Cana Wine and free tastes are available in the shop opposite the church. Excavations
held in the Franciscan Church revealed a Jewish mosaic from the 3rd-4th century. The inscription reads:
Memory of the Pius Joseph - son of Tanhoum son of Bota and of his children who made this Table may it be for them a blessing, Amen.
Tiberias, built by Herod in honor of Tiberius, the emperor of Rome, has been occupied by Jews and Arabs for almost 2000 years. In an all-the-year-round warm and dry climate, Tiberias offers hot springs (Hamei-Tveriah) known especially for their curative powers, especially in treating rheumatism. Many guest houses, small and luxury hotels, are located on the shore of the lake.
Also the tombs of Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakkai and Rabbi Akiva are prominent with their white shrines. Ben Zakkai, after the destruction of Jerusalem, founded a great academy in the coastal city of Yavne, while Akiva was martyred by the Romans for his part in the rebellion in about 150 CE.
Travelling north (4 miles) on the west coast of the lake we pass the village of Migdal also known as Magdala, the birthplace of Mary, the Magdalene (Luke 8:1-2).
The church at Tabha (7 wells),(left), and altar erected above the rock where the miracles took place (right)
We arrive at Tabha and head for the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. Here Jesus, followed by his disciples, miraculously fed the multitudes (Mark 6:34-44).
The view looking south towards Lake Galilee (left), The altar inside the church (right)
Walking from the parking area we pass the Franciscan monastery on the right while the adjacent courtyard lie the ruins of the synagogue and the home of St. Peter. For many centuries the ruins were covered with earth. It was the Franciscans that bought the site in 1894, cleared the ruins, and partly restored the ancient site. Today a modern church is built atop the ruins of St. Peter's home, old and new merge at the same spot.
Capernaum. The entrance to the to the site of the famous synagogue and the house of St. Peter.
The road east continues along the northern shores and crosses the River Jordan where it flows into the lake. We are now crossing the Beteyha Valley known for its fertile soil, when we arrive at a junction leading left, to the Jordan Park which comprises of streams and wild life as it was in ancient times. This is the place of the ancient city of Beit Tzeida, its ruins are visible today on the eastern side of the park.
After a while we pass the junction to Gamla, the road leading to the ruins of the Jewish stronghold that stood bravely against the attacks of the Roman legion.
Continuing south we pass the Kibbutz of Ein-Gev, a fishermen's village that is famous for its St. Peter�s fish freshly caught and served at the seafront restaurant.
Further south we pass the Kibbutzim of Ha�on and Maa�gan, famous for their wild life farm of ostriches. A pleasant place to stop for a rest at the newly-built cultural center, Beit Gabriel. Performances, lectures, conferences and exhibitions are held here regularly. The center was erected by Mrs. Gita Sherover of Jerusalem in memory of her son Gabi. It was a meeting place during the peace talks between the late Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin and the late King Hussein of Jordan. You are free to enter the building, enjoy a pleasant meal at the restaurant, the wide windows revealing the lake and its surrounding mountains and the garden lawn sloping down to the water's edge. Look for the sculptures of birds on the window ledge and among the tree-like pillars supporting the garden balcony.
A road east will take us in a short while to the hot springs and oasis of Hammat Gader. Visit the Crocodile Reserve, bathe in the hot springs (42C; 108F), and see the 2nd century Roman baths and ruins.
Another ten minutes by car and we are back in Tiberias after completing the 35-miles round-trip of the lake.