5 Must-See Christian Holy Sites Around the Sea of Galilee
Though many Christians on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land make Jerusalem the focus of their visit, some of the most significant Christian holy sites are not in Jerusalem. They can actually be found north, around the Sea of Galilee which borders the city of Tiberas. According to various accounts in the New Testament, Jesus spent much of his life in the northern region of Israel giving over his teachings and performing wonders. Many locations mentioned in the Bible, where Jesus is believed to have either lived or passed through, have also been meticulously preserved or recreated.
For these reasons, no Christian journey to the Holy Land is really complete without touring some or all of these five sites:
1. Capernaum. This ancient town sits on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to the northwest. Known as the “Town of Jesus,” it was in Capernaum that Jesus set up his ministry. The rich archaeological site features the House of St. Peter, a supposed gathering place among Christians in those early years. Today, a modern structure sits on the site with a floor made of glass that allows visitors to see the foundations of the original church. There is also a restored synagogue that was the site of several historical and biblical events, some of which are recorded in the New Testament, for example John 6:35-59.
2. Mount of Beatitudes. The Mount of Beatitudes certainly lives up to its name. On a clear day, visitors are treated to a sweeping panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding hills. According to tradition, Jesus gave the famous Sermon on the Mount from this location. The quaint Church of the Beatitudes that currently occupies the spot, was built in 1938 by the Franciscan Sisters.
3. Tabgha. In the Scripture, after being resurrected, Jesus met Peter and a few of his disciples along the Sea of Galilee's shore. According to tradition, this event happened at Tabgha. It is also at this location that the miracle of the “Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes” supposedly occurred. The restored version of an old church constructed in the 5th century aptly named Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes currently sits on the picturesque site.
4. Yardenit. From this location, the Jordan River begins its journey from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea in the south. Traditionally, it was here that Jesus was baptized. Today, Yardenit attracts Christians from all over the world who seek to be baptized in the same waters. There is also a visitors centers on site that provides white robes as well as a place to eat, take a shower, and buy souvenirs.
5. Cana. Similar to the city of Nazareth, Cana is a modest Arab village that hosts numerous ancient structures as well as a series of caves. The site's main claim for fame is that it is the supposed location of Jesus' first major miracle at a wedding feast: the changing water into wine. Visitors to the site today will find the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George that was constructed almost 150 years ago. The church possesses a set of two stone jars that, according to tradition, Jesus used when performing the wonder.
Though many of these sites, and others not mentioned here, are relatively close together, it would be difficult to visit all of them over the course of one day. Christian visitors to the Sea of Galilee region should plan to stay in the area for at least two to three days in order to fully soak in the rich historical, cultural, and spiritual experience.