Ancient Jewish communities thrived around the Sea of Galilee, as testified by several remains of early synagogues, examples including those at Capernaum, (and also Chorazin, and Hammat Tiberias which are viewed on longer tours). It was amongst these communities that Jesus chose to live and preach, and the area is therefore also replete with important Christian sites.
Christian pilgrimage sites
Your expert guide will lead you to key sites including the Mount of the Beatitudes (where tradition holds that Jesus delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount); Capernaum, interesting for both the early octagonal church built around the house of Peter, and for the later and ornate 5th century synagogue; and the “Jesus Boat”, a boat dating back to the time of Jesus, found and now exhibited at Kibbutz Ginosar. We love the boat for the air of mystery which hangs over it –together with your guide you will be able to discuss who the men (or women?) were who sailed the boat 2000 years ago. Was it a fishing boat used by disciples of Jesus? Or a military boat used by Jewish resisters against the Romans? Thinking about who owned the boat, and what it was used for, helps us to consider the various different communities living around the Sea of Galilee at this crucial time in history.
Sea of Galilee
From ancient wine presses to modern day boutique wineries, the nectar of the vine has a long history in Israel. You will therefore stop at one of Israel’s award winning wineries for an explanation about the wine making process, and of course for a wine tasting. Each winery has its very own story, so listen out carefully for the story of these bottles. We have included a little bite to eat as well, so fear not – you will not go hungry!
Your guide will take you to an incredibly beautiful site – Zippori, described by Josephus as “the ornament of the Galilee”.
Zippori was the Galilee’s major centre of commerce from the time of the reign of Herod, through the birth of Jesus, and it is probable that Jesus would have worked in Zippori as a craftsman. In Jewish terms, Zippori is hugely important as the place where the Mishna was redacted by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi in 220 CE, and modern Judaism was therefore given shape. Evidence of the city’s former glory and sophistication is today seen in the stunning mosaic floors which remain. Of major interest are the ‘Mona Lisa of the Galilee’ (pictured below), the Nile Mosaic, and the floor of the 6th century synagogue. Zippori’s remains also include a Crusader fortress and Roman theatre which once seated 4500 people. In Christian heritage the site has significance as the town of origin of the Virgin Mary and her parents.