Capernaum, in the Galilee of northern Israel is a Biblical village. It sits not far from other important Christian sites in Israel. These include Bethsaida, the Mount of Beatitudes, and Tabgha, as well as the Jordan River and Tiberias on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Today the town of Kfar Nahum (Talhum in Arabic) stands where Capernaum once stood. The site attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists from around the world every year. In Biblical times Capernaum was one of the main trading villages in the Gennesaret area. It was a vibrant and prosperous part of Palestine, home to about 1,500 people many of whom were fishermen. Many travelers, caravans, and traders passed through Capernaum on the Via Maris. It was main trade route connecting Damascus in the north and Egypt in the south. There remains a Via Maris highway mile stone in Capernaum today. The village was thought to have prospered from the 2nd century BC to the 13th century AD when it reverted to a simple fishing village until the 1800’s. The late establishment of the town explains why Capernaum is not in the Old Testament. The town is deeply significant to Christians as it features prominently in the New Testament. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth, and preached in Jerusalem but it was the significant Galilean Ministry years which he spent in Capernaum and where he performed many of his miracles. Capernaum became his home and the Bible calls it Jesus’ “own city”. Matthew 4:13 tells us that Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum after meeting temptation in the wilderness. Here he met James, John, Peter, Andrew all fishermen and Matthew a tax collector, five of his future disciples. Description from Tourist Israel
According to Jewish tradition, the Tomb of Maimonides is in central Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel. Maimonides died in Fustat, Egypt on December 12th, 1204, where it is believed that he was briefly buried before being reinterred in Tiberias. The Tomb of Maimonides is one of the most important Jewish pilgrimage sites in Israel, and one of Tiberias's most visited tourist attractions. The place of the tomb of Maimonides is also the burial place of Rabbis Yochanan ben Zakai and Isaiah Horowitz.
The Tiberias Hot Springs National Park, aka Hamat Tiberias National Park, displays one of the most spectacular mosaics of ancient synagogues in Israel. On the site, where the Hot Springs of Tiberias flow, there is also a beautifully preserved 18th century structure of a Turkish Hamam. The Hot Springs – within the national park, 17 thermo-mineral springs flow at a temperature of about 600C, with a saline concentration of 36.5 gr. per liter, the majority in the form of chlorides of sodium and calcium and some potassium, bromide and sulfate. The water flows in a system of underground channels to the Tiberias Hot Baths. The channels are built with chimneys to release steam pressure and visitors to the park can see the steam pouring out of them. Surplus water that does not flow into the Tiberias hot baths are collected in a pool located on-site. The surplus water, and the water returning from the baths after use, is collected in a Mekorot facility located within the site, and is conveyed to the National Saline Water Carrier. The Severus’ Synagogue is located within the precincts of the ancient town of Hammat Tverya, close to the southern wall and the gate of the city. This synagogue underwent three stages. The first synagogue was built about 230 CE, on the remains of an earlier public building. From this synagogue, which was apparently destroyed in the 3rd century, only a small piece of mosaic remains that is displayed at the southern edge of the central mosaic, on a slightly lower level. The second synagogue existed in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, and left behind a glorious mosaic floor, one of the earliest discovered in synagogues in Israel. The mosaic is divided into three panels. The northern section shows two lions, flanking nine inscriptions in Greek memorializing donors; in the middle – a spectacular Zodiac surrounding an image of Helios, the sun god; and in the southern section – the Ark of the Torah with Jewish symbols such as two seven-branched candelabras, a shofar and a lulav. The synagogue underwent preservation, restoration and reconstruction, and it is surrounded by glass walls enabling eye contact with the scenery, remains of ancient residential buildings and the later synagogue.
In the eastern Lower Galilee, on the way to Tiberias, a monumental cliff towers up, offering a breathtaking view of the Jordan Valley, the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, Mt Hermon, and the Galilee. This is the Arbel Cliff, the heart of the Arbel Nature Reserve, declared in 1967, and the national park that surrounds it. The main importance of the nature reserve and the reason for its declaration is preservation of the diversity of habitats it contains and the unique species that inhabit it, as well as the fact that it is part of a continuum of natural areas, allowing wildlife to pass between them. In addition, the site was declared a nature reserve in order to restore and conserve the fascinating heritage sites and antiquities found at Arbel. These sites include Arbel Fortress and the impressive cave village, where historic battles were fought in the days of Herod, Horvat Vradim (Hamam), and the ruins of the Jewish settlement of Arbel, in which the remains of a splendid ancient Galilean synagogue are still to be seen. From the entrance to the national park there are marked hiking trails that pass through these sites. The combination of a visit to the historic and archaeological sites and the experience of nature and the breathtaking clifftop view is the uniquely magical secret of the Arbel.
Known as the “capital of the Golan Heights”, Katzrin is full of beautiful scenery and fascinating history. The original Katzrin, which dates back to the Byzantine era, was destroyed by an earthquake in 749 CE. Thousands of years later, you can still see some of the ruins that tell the story of the ancient town. Lovely hikes, great wineries, and fascinating archeological sites make Katzrin an essential stop in the Golan Heights. Here are our top picks for what to do there. Some of the most exciting attractions in the Katzrin area are the ancient ruins throughout the area. Many of these sites trace Jewish settlement to the era of Herod the Great, from 39 BCE to 4 CE. Immerse yourself into the Talmudic era at the restored Jewish village at Ancient Katzrin Park. Explore a synagogue and private homes, and see demonstrations of ancient wine, olive oil, and pita production. You can find more relics of Byzantine-era synagogues and churches at The Golan Archeological Museum in Katzrin. An audiovisual presentation tells the story of the heroic revolt of the Jewish town of Gamla against the Romans. Roman arrowheads, clay oil lamps, and coins are also on display. The Golan Heights is truly one of the most beautiful areas in Israel, and the areas around Katzrin are home to some standout natural gems. For an introduction to the beautiful surroundings, hit the Golan Magic complex for their award-multi-sensory presentation that immerses you in the sights, smells, and sensations of this beautiful region. Then take a nature walk at Eden Springs Park, which surrounds the spring supplying the Mey Eden water brand. You’ll see many plants, animals, panoramic views, and springwater pools, perfect for refreshing along the way. Gamla Nature Reserve and Majrase Nature Reserve offer two other hiking opportunities nearby. But if you’d like to take a more hands-on approach to the beautiful environment, the Bell Ofri farm is an animal refuge with a petting zoo. If you get hungry, the es also features a boutique winery and dairy restaurant. Description from Tourist Israel
Akiva ben Yosef, also known as Rabbi Akiva, was a leading Jewish scholar and sage, a tanna of the latter part of the first century and the beginning of the second century. Rabbi Akiva was a leading contributor to the Mishnah and to Midrash halakha. He is referred to in the Talmud as Rosh la-Hakhamim, "Chief of the Sages". As a leading Mishnaic sage (and teacher of Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNess), Rabbi Akiva played a major role in establishing rabbinic (ie post–Second Temple) Judaism. He was tortured to death by the Romans because of his support for the Bar Kochba Revolt, his enthusiasm for resistance to the Romans was such that he declared Bar Kochba to be the Messiah. A visit to Rabbi Akiva’s tomb in Tiberias is a chance to consider this great sage’s life and its significance for the Jewish people and all humanity. Rabbi Akiva started out as a poor, illiterate shepherd. His wife Rachel married him against the wishes of her affluent father, who balked at Akiva’s lack of education. Rachel encouraged and supported her husband’s utter devotion to Torah study and lived in abject poverty for twenty-four years. Akiva’s formal study of Torah did not begin until age forty, but his diligence, combined with his keen intellect, enabled him to become one of the foremost sages of the Mishnah with 24,000 students. He supported the 2nd-century rebel leader Bar Kochba. He was arrested by the Romans and subjected to a horrifyingly painful death; he lovingly recited the words of the “Shema” at the end. According to tradition, his body was miraculously transported to Tiberias for burial alongside his students who had died in a plague. His tomb, on the mountainside behind the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, overlooks Tiberias and the Kinneret, and has been a pilgrimage site since the early Middle Ages. It became a special tradition to pray for rain at Rabbi Akiva’s tomb during drought years. Among those who visited Rabbi Akiva’s Tomb was the famed kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Ari Zal, making the site even more sacred.