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Sea of Galilee

The Galilee is not a large region. A mere 80 miles separate its northern border-the peak of Mount Hermon from its southernmost boundary along the Jezreel Plain, the site of biblical Armageddon .Its eastern reaches, on the far edge of the Golan plateau, lie only 50 miles from the Mediterranean sea in the west, but these 5,000 square miles encompass amazingly beautiful and contrasting scenery: mountains and valleys, fertile plateaus and stark cliffs and glimmering seacoast.The drive just one hour from one end of the Galilee to the other and it is also a short hop from major attractions all around Israel: a two hour drive to Tel Aviv, under three hours to Jerusalem or the Dead Sea. Six thousand years ago, the Galilee was already bustling with human activity.The natural forests that covered Galilee Mountains were cleared, and replaced with farms and villages.on the plains, large cities sprung up.

The Galilee Mountains were the birthplace of Jewish mysticisms. Shimon Bar Yohai, regarded as the first Jewish mystic, lived in the Galilee in the second century CE. In the sixteenth century, the small town of Safed became the birth-place of Kabbalah.

The Galilee today is still a relatively unknown destination. Its tourism facilities have developed slowly but in the past few years the hospitality of its people, and the growing worldwide interest in agro-tourism and eco-tourism, have made the region increasingly popular. The Galilee’s ancient sites have been preserved and restored-the old city of Acre, the town of Safed, the antiquities of Hazor and Dan, to name a few.

Natural treasures, such as the sources of the Jordan River, the Hula National Park, and the Biriya forest, await the visitor who loves the great outdoors. The Galilee as a travel destination is a place to take in slowly, a place to sit in the shade of an ancient olive tree, bask in the sun on a quite beach, or walk along a cobblestone lane still echoing with footsteps of countries. Its mystical atmosphere takes the visitor far away from the frenetic world we live in today.

Places to visit:
Acre - The old walled port city of Acre has been continuously settled since the days of the Phoenicians, four millennia ago. In the twelfth century, Acre was the capital of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. The city was the last home in the Holy Land for many of the Christian knightly orders: the Knights of St. John (the Hospitallers), the Knights of the Temple (the Templers), and the German knights (the Teutonic order). The port of Acre was the site where Richard the Lionhearted, Marco Polo, Louis IX, and Napoleon embarked on their expeditions.

Beit She’an National Park - is a rich archaeological treasure with a Roman stadium, an ancient colonnade and a gladiator’s area. Learn more about these fascinating ruins from Gems in Israel.

Karmiel - is a relatively young town in the Western Galilee. Founded in 1964 with a community of close to 50,000, the city is the commercial, educational, cultural and industrial hub of the Western Galilee.

Nazareth - where Jesus grew up, was a tiny village tucked away in a valley in the Lower Galilee. At the age of about 30, Jesus began his ministry around the Sea of Galilee, where he imparted the core of his teachings. The old city of Nazareth dates back to the beginning of the eighteenth century when many of the landed gentry came into wealth as a result of reforms instituted by the Ottoman Turkish authorities.

Safed - In the sixteenth century, the Old City of Safed became a world center of Kabbala and Jewish thought. Many of the rabbis and sages were buried in the old cemetery of Safed, and graves of Talmudic sages have been discovered in the mountains and forests around the city. The old streets and lands of Safed have survived until this day. The medieval synagogues of Safed are notable for their Spanish architecture. For more information on Safed, see Safed, the City of Jewish Art , Mysticism, and Tourism.

Tiberius - was named after the Emperor Tiberius. During the time of Joshua, the area where modern Tiberius is now located was allocated to the tribe of Naphtali. In ancient times, Tiberius' greatest attraction was its medicinal hot springs at Hammath, just to the south. The hot springs remain a tourist attraction to this day.

Other historical and natural sites worth visiting include
Banias Nature Reserve - encompasses the upper Hermon River , the Banias waterfall and a number of archaeological sites, including remains of a Greek temple dedicated to the goat-footed god Pan.

Gamla  - is an ancient Jewish town built on a steep mountainside in the Golan Heights. The town gets its name from the Hebrew word for camel, "gamal," which the steep sides of the mountain resemble. Gamla is known as the “Masada of the North:” When the remaining Jews realized that the Romans were about to conquer the site after seven months of fighting in 67 A.D., they leapt to their deaths in the abyss below the town. The town was never rebuilt and the ruins remain as a testament to the tragedy. The Gamla Nature Reserve is home to many species of predatory birds including eagles and vultures. It also hosts the country’s highest waterfall.

Hula National Park - is a unique wetlands wildlife sanctuary and a rare meeting point of African and European fauna and flora. According to the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration at Latrun, some 500 million birds representing 300 species cross Israel’s skies twice a year, in the autumn and spring. Hula, along with other key sites on the birds’ migration path, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For an inside look at the the Hula Experience, read A Hula Diary.

Rosh Hanikra - is the northernmost point on the Mediterranean shore of Israel , on the border of Israel and Lebanon . The unique and beautiful grottoes, formed by the sea pounding against the chalk cliffs, can be reached by a short cable car ride. Throughout history, trading caravans and armies passed through Rosh Hanikra. It’s also the sight of the old railway line that once linked Cairo to Beirut.

Sea of Galilee (Kinneret)  - is surrounded by many different sites mentioned in the Bible. Many important Jewish sages are buried in the area, including Rabbi Moses Maimonides (the Rambam). In addition, the Sea of Galilee has many important sites from Jesus’ ministry: Mount of Beatitudes, the scene of the Sermon on the Mount); Tabgha, the site of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes; Capernaum, the town where Jesus stayed during his ministry.

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