Tour the Holy Land: Galilee Tour the Holy Land: Galilee

The Adventure Tour

Galilee: The home of Jesus from Nazareth

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Nazareth. The Church of the Annunciation rising above the rooftops.

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.

Mount Tabor

Mt Tabor. The Church on the mountain top

Driving south from Nazareth, down to the Valley of Jezreel, past the town of �Afula and heading east we arrive shortly at Mount Tabor rising some 1,200 ft above the surrounding plains. At the footsteps of the mountain, before we ascend the winding narrow road, we pass through the Arab village of Daburiya.

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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Kefar Kana (Canna)

Leave Nazareth on the northbound road, and after a mere 6 miles we reach the Arab village of Kefar Kana also known to the Christians as Canna. Here Jesus performed his first miracle:

cana10 cana11 cana20
Churches in the village of Canna: (left and center) Franciscan Catholic Church, Altar; (right) Greek-Orthodox Church

"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).

cana mosaic 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.

Lake Kinneret

Lake Kinneret

Travelling east (15 miles) the road passes near to the holy place of Nebi-Shueib also known as Jethro�s Tomb. Jethro the father-in-law of Moses is known to the Arabs by the name of Nebi, the prophet. Here the greatest festival and pilgrimage of the Druzes in Israel is held every spring.


We descend the steep slopes toward the Jordan Valley and reach the city of Tiberias by the shore of Lake Kinneret. The lake, fed mostly by the Jordan river, is the largest sweet water reservoir in Israel. Its shape reminds us of a violin ("kinneret" in Hebrew derived from the word "kinor" means violin). 103 sq. miles and 682 ft. below sea level it serves also as the main water supplier to the whole country.

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.


On the surrounding slopes are many ancient tombs of Jewish scholars who made Tiberias their home. Among them is the tomb of Rabbi Moshe ben-Maimon also known as Rambam (Maimonides), a great philosopher and physician of the 12th century. The tomb of Rabbi Meir is considered one of the holiest in Israel. He was a learned second-century Rabbi.

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).


Continue through the fertile valley of Ginossar, turning off the main road to Kibbutz Ginosar, on the shore of the lake, and head for the Yigal Alon Center. Here we will learn of the Jewish settlements in the region and visit the Ancient Boat, an almost perfectly preserved fisherman's boat from the time of Jesus Christ, excavated from the mud at the bottom of the lake. You may visit Kibbutz Ginosar HomePage.


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)

From the Tabha junction and turning right, up the steep and winding road, we arrive at Mt. of the Beatitudes, 300 ft. above the lake, and have a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside. The convent and the church belong to the Italian Franciscan nuns. On this site, Jesus preached the famous "Sermon on the Mount" (Math 5:1-35).


Nahum Nahum
Capernaum Synagogue. The entrance (right) is decorated with palm trees

Descending to the shores of Kinneret and turning eastward, two miles along the coast we reach the ruins of Capernaum (Kfar Nahum in Hebrew; the village of Nahum).

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.


Jordan River: Baptismal Site

We are now at the southern most tip of Lake Kinneret, and reach the point where the river Jordan once again starts its long flow south toward the Dead Sea. Take the turning left immediately after crossing the bridge, turn toward Kvuzat Kinneret until you see the large parking area on your left: you have arrived at the Yardenit, a baptismal site with full facilities for the Christian visitor.

Another ten minutes by car and we are back in Tiberias after completing the 35-miles round-trip of the lake.

Places of Interest:


(Between Lake Galilee and Safed). In 1882 a group of Jewish pioneers from Romania and Russia purchased land from the Arabs and begun the first Jewish agricultural settlement in the Galilee. The early years were very difficult for the newcomers having to fight illnesses and diseases unknown to them, and several did leave the place. In 1920, although under the British Mandate, Rosh-Pina was constantly submitted to Arab gang attacks. This lead to the establishment of the Jewish Guard Movement (later known Ha-Shomer = the guards), its goals to patrol and protect the Jewish villages. (See item Tel-Hai). Reconstructed and now a tourist attraction.


(Upper Galilee, opposite Mt. Meiron). An ancient city, 840m above sea level, is blessed with fresh mountain air and lovely views. Many Jewish scholars made Safed their home and attracted pilgrims and worshipers since the Middle Ages. There is an old quarter where artists flock alongside students studying the Holy Scriptures. Several old synagogues are located in the old city. The first printing press was established here (1563), and old presses are on exhibit in the Printing Museum, Artists' Quarter. Entrance Fee.

Huleh Sanctuary

(Upper Galilee off the main road to Kiryat Shmonah not far from the village of Yesod ha-Ma'alah). Once a swamp area, now a tourist attraction of waterways and wild life: Jamus (water buffalo), catfish, water turtles, and migrating birds enjoy the quiet and freedom. Visitors are welcome to walk on an elevated platform above the water and watch the animals in their natural habitat. Open: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. (depending on time of year), Facilities include a visitor's center. Entrance Fee. Tel: 06-6937069


(1 mile north of Kiryat-Shmonah). Was first settled by members of the Shomer Movement. The original fortress (in Hebrew: Hazer Tel-Hai) is well preserved and tells the story of the Movement. The main mission was to counter the Arab gangs who tried desperately to drive the Jewish settlers out of Galilee. Entrance Fee.
Nearby are the cemetery and the famous monument (the Roaring Lion) to Yosef Trumpeldor, the commander, and seven others who were killed while defending the stronghold.


(One of the three sources of the River Jordan. 10 miles north east of Kiryat Shmonah. Also known as Panias, named after Pan, the Greek god, and the remains of the Roman temple are seen next to the source of the river. Here Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah (Matt. 16: 17-18). Pleasant walks along the eastern bank of the river until you reach the first pedestrian crossing opposite kibbutz Senir. Nature Reserves Authority. Entrance Fee. Tel: 06-6950272

Kal'at Nimrod

Very close to Banias (1.5 miles), the ancient fortress was erected by the Moslems, later fortified by the Crusaders in the 13th century. National Parks Authority. Entrance Fee.

� 2012

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