While preparing for a Christian pilgrimage to Israel, most travelers think of Jerusalem as being the place to see the most sites relevant to the life of Jesus. While no pilgrimage to Israel would be complete without a visit to Jerusalem, one must also remember to tour the Galilee Region. Considering that Jesus spent most of his ministry is this area, it is no wonder that the Galilee contains its own wealth of significant sites. Here we include the top 10 Galilee sites you can’t miss.
Capernaum National Park
On the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee is the village of Capernaum, known also as “the town of Jesus”. All four gospels mention Capernaum as it was the center of Jesus’ public ministry. It was here that Jesus taught in the synagogue and performed several miracles, including driving out an impure spirit, healing the servant of the Roman Centurion, healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, and healing a paralytic man. Today visitors can see the restored synagogues and churches as well as the House of St. Peter.
Tabgha is the site of Jesus’ miracle of feeding 5,000 people by turning five loaves of bread and two fishes into enough food to feed the large crowd. Here travelers can visit the Church of the Multiplication and see its restored 5th century mosaics.
Mount of Beatitudes
Near Tabgha is the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount. At the top of the hill is a beautiful chapel built to commemorate this sermon. Designed by the renowned architect Antonio Barluzzi, it features symbols to represent Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, Charity, Faith, and Temperance.
Mount Tabor is traditionally believed to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The Transfiguration refers to the Biblical event when Jesus took three of his disciples to a mountain where Jesus began to shine with rays of light and the prophets Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke to them before the voice of God called Jesus “Son”. Today visitors can see the 20th century Church of the Transfiguration.
Yardenit is the site on the River Jordan where it is believed that the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist took place. Those who visit this site today can be baptized in the river. A nearby Visitors Center allows travelers to obtain white robes and shower.
Nathaniel’s hometown of Cana was also the location of the wedding feast where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine. The Church of St. George was built in Cana in the 19th century and houses 2 of the stone jars that many believe were used to hold the wine. It remains a popular place for weddings as well as vow renewals to this day.
Jesus’ boyhood home of Nazareth is located nine miles west of Mount Tabor. Here visitors can see Mary’s Well, where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to deliver the news that she would give birth to the Son of God. The nearby Church of the Annunciation was built to commemorate this important event.
Sail on the Sea of Galilee
Several of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen, so it is not surprising that he spent a significant amount of time sailing on the Sea of Galilee with them. Today, travelers to the Sea of Galilee can sail on a replica of a common wooden fishing boat from the days of Jesus and imagine what it would be like to see Jesus walking on the water toward the boat.
Kibbutz Nof Geonsar
In 1986 the remains of a 2,000 year old wooden fishing boat were found. This would have been the type used by Jesus’ fishermen disciples. The remains of this boat, nicknamed the “Ancient Jesus Boat”, can be seen at Kibbutz Nof Ginosar.
The city of Caesarea Philippi is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. It is believed that here is where Saint Peter made his confession of Jesus as the Messiah and the “Son of the living God”, and Christ in turn gave a charge to Peter. Even though the city is now uninhabited, it’s a beautiful archaeological site and a must-see attraction located in the Golan Heights.