Circling the Sea of Galilee

August 24th 2012

A tour to Israel is not complete without a trip up north to the gorgeous and historically significant Sea of Galilee. Besides the wonderful opportunities for outdoor recreation, there are few places where the bible comes alive in such a powerful way.

Start your visit in Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Founded in 20 CE and named after the Roman emperor of the same name, it is considered one of the four holy cities in Judaism. Relax at the beachfront, stroll along the picturesque port, or visit St. Peter’s Church, which was built by the Crusaders.

Next, head to the Mount of Beatitudes, a major pilgrimage site and location of the famous Sermon on the Mount. Situated on a beautiful hilltop with gorgeous views, be sure to check out the 4th century Byzantine church and remains of a monastery and cistern. The Roman Catholic Franciscan church, built in 1938, is also worth a visit.

Visitors typically head to Tabgha, the site of miracles, next. Visit the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, which was built in the 4th century CE, rediscovered in the 1930s, and restored in the 1980s. Today, the German Association of the Holy Land maintains the church. Just north sits the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, where Jesus is believed to have appeared for the fourth time after his resurrection.

Capernaum National Park, which houses the remains of a Second Temple period fishing village, is a must visit if you are in the area. Walk amidst the remains of the village and its synagogue, and stand in the location where Jesus chose his apostles. The modern day church was built on the former location of the House of Peter.

Explore the village of Kursi, where Jesus cast off demons into pigs and ran them off a steep cliff. Visit Yardenit, a registered site for baptisms, and witness Christian pilgrims being baptized at this holy location. And visit “the Jesus Boat” on Kibbutz Ginosar, which lay undisturbed for 2,000 years.

Finally, end your day by the Sea of Galilee with a relaxing boat tour across its clear, calm waters. Surrounded by mountains and history, it’s the perfect way to spend a vacation.