Day 1: Nazareth, Tiberias & Sea of Galilee
We begin our tour by traveling passed Herzliya and Natanya and continue north along the coastal road parallel to the Mediterranean, we turn inland and drive through the Valley of Armageddon (Revelations 16:6), from here we can see Megiddo. On our way towards Nazareth we visit the Mt. of Precipitation (Luke 4:28-30).
In Nazareth we visit the Church of Annunciation which was constructed on the spot where Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would soon be with child (Luke 1:26). Next-door we find the Church of Saint Joseph where Jesus’ father, Joseph had his carpentry.
We depart Nazareth and travel to the Sea of Galilee. On the way we pass Cana where Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-12). At the bottom of Mount Beatitude we visit Capernaum on the shore of the Kinneret or Sea of Galilee. Here we see the home of Peter and the Church of the Multiplication (Mark 6:30-44).
We travel along the waterfront of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus calmed the sea and walked on the water (Mark 4:35-41, 6:45-52). Across the water we can see the Golan Heights forming a beautiful backdrop as we pass the city of Tiberias which was settled more than 2,000 years ago and named after the Roman emperor Tiberius.
We reach the southern region of the Kinneret where the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee and where Jesus was baptized. Here you may be able to participate in a baptismal ceremony in the very same spot that Jesus did so many years ago (Mark 1:9-11).
As we head south on our return journey we can see Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration took place (Matthew 17:1-9).
Day 2: Caesarea, Haifa, Acre & Rosh Hanikra
The city of Caesarea was constructed under Herod and named after the Roman Emperor, Caesar. From what remains of the ancient city we can see that it was a prosperous and luxurious city. Among the archaeological excavations we can see gateways, a moat and well preserved walls and rooms. There is a perfectly preserved Roman amphitheater which is still used today for performances by Israeli and international artists. The Roman remains were preserved for centuries by the sea sand which covered and protected the stones. Next to the amphitheatre is part of what was once a hippodrome. We can see the remains of a Roman Temple which stood above the port overlooking the busy commercial ships which carried treasures from the east and the Nabatean caravans which were on route to Rome. Following the Romans the city stood neglected for centuries until the Crusaders arrived but in the years after the Crusaders the city once again sank into oblivion.
We continue driving north passing through Haifa where we stop to see the breathtaking Baha’i Shrine and gardens. The terraced gardens cascade down the mountain towards the city below, each of the 19 terraces bursts with colorful flowers and meticulous landscaped designs.
Our next stop is at Rosh HaNikra, the most northerly point along Israel’s Mediterranean coast. We descend by cable car into the network of limestone grottoes created by the constant bombardment of waves against the rocks.
On our return journey south we stop at Acre (Acco), the largest Crusader city in the country. The city is extremely well preserved and you can’t help being impressed by the incredible architecture and how it has survived. Part of the city is alive with markets and people still living in the ancient buildings. We see the walls and moat which was reconstructed and repaired by El Jazzar at the end of the 1900s. The mighty walls prevented even Napoleon conquering the city. We can see the Crusader remains, the prison used under Turkish rule and the gallows which were later used under the British Mandate to hang Jews who broke the British law limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine following World War II.
Day 3: Golan Heights
We travel up the coast and then turn inland through the plain of Armageddon as mentioned in Revelations. From here we can see Megiddo site of an ancient Biblical city.
When we reach the southernmost point of the Sea of Galilee we stop to look down on the sea from above and take in the gorgeous pastoral vista. The panoramic view which lies before us has the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in the foreground and the undulating Golan Heights forming a dramatic backdrop.
We cross the Jordan River at the foot of the Golan Heights and begin our ascent passing through Hamat Gader. Today Hamat Gader is a popular spa destination just as it was for the Romans almost 2000 years ago. We continue on through the lush green countryside until we reach the Shalom Observatory. From here we have a stunning view looking back at the Sea of Galilee beneath us. It is easy to understand the strategic importance of the Heights as we see the Israeli city of Tiberius in the distance on the edge of the Sea of Galilee.
We travel on to Katzrin where excavations have uncovered a village from the Mishnah and Talmud periods. The village has been partially restored and we can see the archaeological findings which include a synagogue, houses and an oil press. Here we can also see evidence of former volcanic activity in the Golan Heights as black basalt rock forms part of the landscape.
We continue on to Katzrin, a city sometimes referred to as the Capital of the Golan. As far back as the Middle Bronze Age this location has been occupied, and later the Romans, Mamluks, Ottomans and even French have ruled this picturesque city. Here we visit the Golan Antiquities Museum where we see findings from the region and the nearby archeological site. The museum displays artifacts and has audiovisual presentations about the city of Gamla. We learn of Gamla, the historic Second Temple Era Jewish city which has been excavated nearby.
We continue to Mount Bental to see what remains of Syrian fortifications. The Syrian bunkers, base and trenches were captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. From here we can see how close Syria is as we look down on the Syrian city of Kuneitra just beyond the Canadian UN forces which have protected this peaceful border since the cease fire in 1974.
Damascus, the Syrian capital is just 50km from here, and our tour today has probably taken us along part of the route that Saul of Tarsus made on his way to Damascus as described in Acts 9:1.