10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Sea of Galilee Region
Galilee is a place created by God for people. The northern edge of the biblical Promised Land. It was Galilee who took a special place in the life of Jesus Christ and people from his closest circle. Here is the city of Nazareth, where Jesus spent his childhood, Galilee was the birthplace of St. Peter and other apostles.
There took place many miracles mentioned in the Gospel (the conversion of water into wine in Cana of Galilee, miracles with bread and fish, and many others). Most of the parables were told by Jesus in Galilee, and the content of many parables is taken from the nature of one or the other Galilean countryside.
In addition to the holy places in the Galilee there are national parks, beautiful nature reserves, cities and settlements that have survived since the first settlement of the Jews of this area and they are keeping the history of Zionism.
Lake Kinneret is Israel’s main freshwater source. With its natural beauty it attracts not only lots of tourists, but also locals to have a rest.
1. Bet Yerah
Tel Beth Yerah ("house of the moon," also known as Khirbet Kerak) is an ancient city on the banks of the Kinneret. Located between Kinneret and Kibbutz Degania. During the third century BC the city of Beth Yerah was one of the most powerful and fortified cities in the region and in all of Israel.
During the excavations, 16 archaeological layers were found, among which the first one was the Early Canaanite. Beth Yerah was destroyed in the middle Canaan period and rebuilt again in the era of the Second Temple. The first settlement dates from around 3200 BC. After the destruction remained uninhabited for about one and a half thousand years. In the Persian period Beth Yerah was re-populated and reached a peak in the Hellenistic period. Finally abandoned in the VII century AD.
Location: 10 kilometers south of Hamat hot springs
2. Arbel National Park
Arbel is the area in Galilee, near Tiberias. The natural beauty of the valley of Arbel perfectly combines with the richest history of this region. Mount Arbel - rises 380 meters above Lake Kinneret and 180 meters above sea level. From the rocks of the mountain flows the Arbel spring. At the foot of Mount Arbel Wadi Hamam is located.
Descending from the mountain along a beautiful pedestrian route, tourists fall into the ruins of a fortress carved into a steep rock; there, in the caves, armed rebels found their shelter, rebelled against Herod the Great in 39 BC. The Romans could not cope with them for a long time, until they pulled down large wooden cages with warriors from the mountain on the ropes, and only then did they destroy the rebels. In the following centuries, the inhabitants of Galilee hid there.
In 1967 this area was declared a nature reserve and a national park.
Location: 10 kilometers west of Tiberias
3. Kibbutz Ginosar
Ginosar is a kibbutz, built on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee in 1937. This place is known for having found the Boat of Jesus not far from it.
Brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan fishing on the Sea of Galilee, found a boat in one of the very dry hot days of 1986, when the water of the Sea of Galilee retreated from the coast, exposing the remains of an ancient swimming craft. Since the brothers were interested in archeology, they immediately realized the great value of the artifact found and promptly reported their discovery to the authorities.
Before the water returned to its place archaeologists managed to pull the boat out of the mud. In order not to damage the structure and to have time before returning the water, we had to work 12 days in a row, without interruption. Then the boat was loaded for 7 years in a special chemical bath. And today, every visitor to the museum, Yigal Alon, who arrived in Ginosar kibbutz, can see it.
The boat is built of cedar planks, but its parts consist of ten different tree species. Scientists have two versions to this effect: either there was a large shortage of wood in the year of construction, or the boat served for many years and was repeatedly repaired. The boat had a low shrinkage so that the owner could easily swim to the shore itself, it was also equipped with a mast and devices for four rowers. A lamp and a cooking pot were found on board. All finds date back to around 40 BC.
This boat is similar to that one used by Jesus Christ with his disciples. Such boats are mentioned for 50 times in the Gospel, but scientists could not find any evidence that it was exactly the one that was somehow connected with Jesus or his associates.
Location: 9.5 kilometers north of Tiberias
4. Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes
Along the Lake of Kineret there are a lot of holy places. Not far from the village of Kapernaum on the coast of Kinneret Lake lies the Tabgha Valley. Tabgha is the place where Jesus Christ performed a series of miracles. It was here that he healed people. Here Jesus appeared to the disciples and St. Peter got the high priesthood.
It was here that another miracle arranged by Christ happened - Jesus fed the hungry five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and in its honor in the 4th century AD basilica was built, fragments of which are preserved in the Church of the Multiplication of loaves and fishes.
The modern Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes was built in 1982 on the Byzantine foundation and is an exact reproduction of the church of the 6th century.
The spacious courtyard of the church is decorated with mosaics in the form of geometric shapes. In the courtyard there is a fountain with seven taps in the form of fish where gold and silver fishes swim.
Currently the church is open to visitors.
5. Church of the Primacy of St. Peter
On the shores of the Sea of Galilee not far from the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes stands the church of St. Peter. Previously it was standing on the shore, so that at high water waves beat against its walls of dark stone. But now the Sea of Galilee became shallower and the water receded.
According to legend, this church was erected on the spot where, according to the Christian tradition, Jesus Christ, after His Resurrection, shared a meal with the disciples after a wonderful fishing of many fish, during this meal he restored the apostle Peter in apostolic dignity after his abdication and instructed him to "Feed My sheep."
The second name of the church is Mensa Christi (Table of Christ) by the name of the rock located inside the church and on which, according to legend, the same meal was held.
The church is active and it belongs to the Custody of the Holy Land of the Franciscan Order. The church was destroyed and restored five times. The church interior is laconic and almost devoid of decoration. The main revered place of the church is the rock in the altar part, the “table of Christ.”
6. Mount of Beatitudes
Mount of Beatitudes rises on 125 meters above the southwest coast of the Sea of Galilee. Here Jesus delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount. Each part of the sermon begins with the word "Blessed ..." - hence the name of the mountain - "Mount of Beatitudes". Here Jesus chose 12 apostles. The place is revered by Christians since the Byzantine times, and then on the mountainside there was a church.
The Catholic church dedicated to the Beatitudes was built in 1937 by the architect Antonio Barluzzi. The temple belongs to the Franciscans and has an octagonal shape, symbolizing the eight beatitudes. Inside the temple in alabaster windows all eight beatitudes are recorded. The outdoor gallery of the temple has a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee.
On the northern shore of Lake Kinneret is the ancient city of Capernaum (Kfar Nahum), founded about 2500 years ago. By the 1st century, the city became one of the most important cultural centers - trade routes to Phenicia and Damascus led there from the Mediterranean.
This city is considered the favorite city of Jesus Christ in his earthly life. Here he preached and performed miracles: he healed St. Peter’s mother-in-law from fever, resurrected the daughter of Jairus, who served in the synagogue, healed a man possessed by the devil. Despite this Jesus was expelled from Capernaum, and then he said bitterly: "And you, Capernaum, like you ascended to heaven, you will descend to hell." This prophecy came true in the 7th century: the city had disappeared from the Earth, and now only ruins are preserved here.
The main attraction of Capernaum is the ancient synagogue where Jesus Christ preached. It was discovered during excavations initiated by Franciscan monks in 1905. The exact date of construction cannot be determined, but the foundation of large hewn stones could be laid in the 1st century AD.
Location: 3 kilometers from Tabgha
8. Greek Orthodox Church of the 12 Apostles