Galilee

Overview

Introduction

The country's northern region about 70 mi/115 km northeast of Jerusalem, Galilee, Israel, is green and hilly in parts and offers some of the country's prettiest scenery, especially in the spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom.

Galilee is a major destination for Christian pilgrims, because many events in the life of Jesus took place there. Nazareth, in southern Galilee, is where Jesus lived during his childhood.

South of Nazareth is the Jezreel Valley, home to farms and alternative communities that are dedicated to meditation, holistic healing and various other pursuits. According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, the final battle of Armageddon will take place in the Jezreel Valley. Until that happens, it's a good place to hike, bicycle, ride horses, go bird-watching or take a Jeep excursion.

The Sea of Galilee, surrounded by green hills, is northeast of Nazareth. Located in the Jordan Valley, the "sea" is actually a large freshwater lake and is also known as Lake Kinneret. It's written that Jesus began his ministry in the town of Capernaum, where you can now view the excavations of a fourth-century church and a third-century synagogue.

Nearby is the Mount of Beatitudes, where it's thought Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. A rebuilt Byzantine church commemorates the event, and a guest house run by Franciscan nuns is up the hill from it for those who want to spend more time in the area. The miracle of the loaves and fishes is said to have taken place at Tabgha, another community in the area.

St. Peter's Church on the bank of the Sea of Galilee marks the spot where some believe Christ walked on the water. Galilee's largest town, Tiberias, sits on the Sea of Galilee's shore.

Just east of the mountain city of Safed is Rosh Pina, a quaint hillside village with rural architecture and blooming gardens. Alternative-healing practitioners and artists make up many of the town's residents. Nearby is Mizpe Hayamim Spa, one of Israel's most luxurious and beautiful resorts. It's dedicated to healing treatments such as ayurvedic massage, aromatherapy and more. http://www.mizpe-hayamim.co.il.

All along the roads of the Upper Galilee, you will see signs inviting you to the numerous watersports facilities of the region, all centered on the Jordan River, which is fed by the streams of Mount Hermon. You can float down the river in a kayak or an inner tube while enjoying the lush scenery.

At the foot of Mount Hermon, Banias is a favorite recreation center with its freshwater springs and picnic areas. At the Banias excavation site, archaeologists are unearthing an ancient cult center for the Greek god Pan, complete with its temple, courtyards, grottoes and niches for rituals.

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