Hula Valley and the Sea of Galilee Attractions

introduction: Every tour in Israel include at least...

1. Tel Dan-  Tel Dan- Dan is a city mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, described as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, and belonging to the tribe of Dan. The city is identified with a mound located in northern Israel known as Tel (Mound) Dan.
In 1849 the American naval officer William F. Lynch identified "Tell el Kadi" (the mound of the Judge) as the site of ancient Dan. During the excavations which had been made there, the gate of the Israeli city was exposed. In addition to that, they found a basalt stone bears an Aramaic inscription referring to one of the kings of Damascus; the excavators of the site believe that the king it refers to is Hazael (c 840 BCE), though a minority argue that it instead refers to Ben-Hadad (c 802 BCE). 
A small part of the inscription remains, with text containing the letters 'ביתדוד' (BYTDWD), which some archaeologists agree refers to "House of David" (Beth David in Hebrew). In the line directly above, the text reads 'MLK YSR'L', i.e. "King of Israel", which would make the inscription the first time that the name David has been found at an archaeological site dating before 500 BCE.
Tel Dan is also a natural site, full with water streams and pools, which you can enter (Only to one of them). The link to the Website of Tel Dan is:https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/tel-dan-nature-reserve/

2. Lake Hula-  Hula Nature Reserve- The Hula Nature is one of the Non-typical sites to tour in Israel, but very interesting!
The restored lake is a tiny remnant of the historic Hula Lake. This lake is an important attraction for water birds, which can be viewed from the floating bridge. a shallow area at the edge of the lake, where papyrus and the common reed grow in profusion. The marsh area serves as a hiding place for a range of animals.
A platform about 600 m. long, built like a long covered bridge, providing a concealed observation platform (hide) over the lake. From that bridge you will, probably, meet the reserve lives a herd of water buffalo (Jammus). The water buffalo herd in the Hula nature reserve is currently the largest in Israel. A short view of a fenced-in area, in which lives a small herd of Persian fallow deer (Dama Mesopotamica) , will be very enjoyable.
A new and sophisticated visitors’ center inaugurated in 2006, provides an interactive presentation, displaying to visitors the fascinating story of the Hula Nature Reserve and its fauna and flora, particularly the story of the migrating birds. The presentation consists of a 3-dimensional video, giving viewers a unique multi-sensual experience. In addition, you can find their unique plants, birds, and swamp fishes. It's a real attraction! 

Link to the reserve nature Hula Website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/hula-nature-reserve/

3.water rafting in the mountainous Jordan River - The site is the largest, most central tourism site in Upper Galilee (South Hula Valley), at the foot of the Golan Heights.
The rafting takes place approximately 10 minutes from Rosh Pina adjacent to Kibbutz Gadot in Upper Galilee in a paradise of nature and attractions… the beauty of the eucalyptus grove, the whisper of the caressing wind, the flow of the water in the mountainous northern Jordan River channel, and especially the white water adventures exclusive to Jordan River Rafting.
The options you have there are:
Kayaking / rafting along the standard route.
Adventurous white water rafting in the mountainous Jordan River.
Paintball facility in the grove.
Ranger trips.
Jeep trips.
Archery.
Iskandar kosher meat restaurant on the river bank.
The Link to the Website is: https://www.rafting.co.il/

4. Mount of Beatitude- The Church of the Mount of Beatitude was design and built by Antonio Barluzzi under commission from the Italian Mission Society with funding from Benito Mussolini. It located on the Summit of the traditional "mount" on which Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

In 1938 they finished building the Church. The church is located near a remaining of a Byzantine church which was built in the 4th century.

The pilgrim Egeria (ca. 381 CE) wrote: "Near there on a mountain is the cave to which the Savior climbed and spoke the Beatitudes."

The Church design in a very modest way, but the garden of the church is marvelous!

It's pretty big one, full with Lawns, trees and flowers. and waterfall. on the garden there are eight stones which quote the eight beatitudes.

The Church floor plan is octagonal, again, to represent the eight sides representing the eight Beatitudes.

Two Popes - Paul VI and John Paul II celebrated Mass at the church during their pastoral visits to Israel.

To summarize it- worth to see!

Attached a link which describe a Mass in the Church- Enjoy! https://youtu.be/bGb1VUlhn7s

5. Tabgha, Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes- 

One of the most beautiful Churches in the Sea of Galilee area is the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes.

It was originally built in the 4th century by the Byzantines, in the area which was called Heptagon (Seven Springs in Greek), and later on Tabgha by the Arabs which Invaded to Israel in the 7th Century.

The Byzantine church was built in the place, which according to traditional believing, the miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes, had been made there.

During the fifth century, a large monastery and a church decorated with exquisite mosaic floors was built on the site. The complex covered an area of 56 x 33 m. and included courtyards and many rooms used as workshops for a variety of crafts as well as for lodging for the monks and the many pilgrims who came to visit.

Agria , a Christian pilgrim from the beginning of the Byzantine period, describes the church in her writings:

"And there by the sea is a field of grass, with much hay and many dates of trees, and beside them the seven plentiful springs each one of water for the most part. In this field the Lord satisfied the people with five loaves and two fish. The following are medical chips, and beneficial to many. Near the walls of the church the public road passes, and there was when the apostle had a customs house".

The monastery and church at Tabgha were destroyed in the 7th century, probably during the Arab conquest of the country, and buried beneath a thick layer of silt and stones.

the church was restored to its Byzantine form in 1982, incorporating portions of the original mosaics.

Therefore, the Church is a combination of two periods:

1. the floor from the 5th century- all mosaic.

2. The walls which were built in 1980s.

Link to the Website is: http://www.israel.org/MFA/IsraelExperience/History/Pages/Tabgha-%20Church%20of%20the%20Multiplication%20of%20the%20Loaves.aspx

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6. Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter- Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter-
The Church is a Franciscan church located in Tabgha, it commemorates, and allegedly marks the spot, of Jesus' reinstatement of Peter as chief among the Apostles.
The existing church today, was built in 1933 and incorporates parts of an earlier 4th century church. At the base of its walls, opposite the main altar, foundations of the 4th century church are visible. In the 9th century, the church was referred to as the Place of the Coals. This name refers to the incident of Jesus' preparation of meal for the apostles, building a charcoal fire on which to cook the fish. 
In the year 808 the priests, which serve the Church, put "Twelve Thrones", a series of heart shaped stones, which were placed along the shore- which we can see some of them, till today, to commemorate the Twelve Apostles. 
The church survived longer than any other in the area, finally being destroyed in 1263 by the Mamelukes. The present Franciscan chapel was included in the itineraries of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II during their visits to Israel in 1964 and March 2000 respectively. 

The church contains a projection of limestone rock in front of the present altar which is venerated as a "Mensa Christi", Latin for table of Christ. According to tradition this is the spot where Jesus is said to have laid out a breakfast of bread and fish for the Apostles, and told Peter to "Feed my sheep" after the miraculous catch, the third time he appeared to them after his resurrection. (John 21:1-24) It is disputed whether this table, or the one enshrined at the nearby Church of the Multiplication, is the one mentioned by the pilgrim Egeria in her narrative of the Holy Land circa 380. There is also another table of Christ enshrined at the Mensa Christi Church in Nazareth.And a final TIP. This church is the only one in the region which provide free of charge toilets.

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7. Capernaum-  in a tour in Israel, Capernaum is a MUST site if you plan to visit the north side of Israel.First of all, I would like to start with meaning of the name Capernaum (which it's meaningless in English).

The Hebrew name of this place is Kfar (Village)+ Nahum (name in Hebrew of the prophet Nahum). Some say it's on the name of Rabi Tanhuma which is mentioned in the Talmud.

The village Capernaum was first mention by Josephus Flavious (a Jewish historian from the 1st Century), which wrote that this village exist from the Hasmonaim period (around the 2nd century BC).

in a tour in Israel, Capernaum is a MUST site, if you plan to visit the north side of Israel.

First of all, I would like to start with meaning of the name Capernaum (which it's meaningless in English). The Hebrew name of this place is Kfar (Village)+ Nahum (name in Hebrew of the prophet Nahum). Some say it's on the name of Rabi Tanhuma which is mentioned in the Talmud.

The village Capernaum was first mention by Josephus Flavious (a Jewish historian from the 1st Century), which wrote that this village exist from the Hasmonaim period (around the 2nd century BC).

The synagogue that visitors see today was in use during the Byzantine period. An earlier synagogue also stood here; scholars are divided over whether it was built in the third or the fourth century CE. A very exciting site for Christian pilgrims is one that started out in the first century CE as a dwelling. The floor of one of the rooms was covered with white plaster and its walls were adorned with plaster painted with geometric patterns and colorful flowers. Apparently as early as the first century the building served as a gathering place for the first Christians (Judeo-Christians). Discovered at the site were 173 plaster fragments bearing inscriptions, mostly in Greek. Some, like “our Lord”, “the Nazarene”, “the greatest of all” and “Simon”, attest to the existence of a Christian community.

In the fourth century the assembly room in the private dwelling became a small public structure. In the middle of the fifth century the site was leveled and an octagonal church was built on top, with the original room right in the center. A larger octagon was built around the inner one, with a mosaic floor bearing floral decorations. Christian pilgrims of the sixth century mention the church, noting that it was built over the house of the Apostle Peter. A modern church stands over the site today.

Link to the Website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/kfar-nahum-capernaum-national-park/

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8. Ginosar- Ginosar is a Kibbutz (common village which all the members share the same public property), which located on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.
Ginosar economy is based mainly on two businesses:
1. Farming- mainly Bananas, Mango, Avocado, Oranges, Cows for milk, and fishing (from the Sea of Galilee).
2. Tourism- they have Hotel, Motel, and a commercial quay for boats which are used for people which want to make a short boat's ride on the Sea of Galilee. In addition, they have a small museum which present an ancient boat from the 2nd Temple time.
This time I will focus on boat ride and the ancient boat from the 2nd temple time.
The ancient boat was found near the coast of the Sea of Galilee, inside the water, sunken in the mud, in 1986. C14 testing which were made to the boat, date it ages between 50BC-70AD. It took 11 days to take it out from the water and another 14 years to preserve it as it is today. Inside this small museum you can see a movie which describe all the procedure which had been made to bring this old boat to it condition today Link to the ancient boat website is: http://www.israel.org/MFA/IsraelExperience/History/Pages/The%20Roman%20Boat%20from%20the%20Sea%20of%20Galilee.aspx.
After that you can go for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, with a wooden boat which was design like the ancient times (only much much bigger). It's a nice experience, with music on the deck, Seagulls which escort us, and the view of the Lower Galilee from West, the Upper Galilee from the North side, and the Golan Heights from the East. You can see a film, regarding this boat ride, on the link attached: https://youtu.be/81Ai-9HcwxI

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9. Magdala- In the last years, Magdala become a very popular site to visit to Christians and Jews as well.
Magdala was an ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Tiberias. In the Babylonian Talmud it is known as Magdala Nunayya (meaning in Aramic: "Tower of the Fishes"), and which some historical geographers think may refer to Tarichaea, literally the place of processing fish. It is believed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene.
The site, which was opened in 2012, is divided to two parts:
1. The excavation and the remaining which were found there, include Beautiful houses with Special mosaic, the Ancient port, the fish farm inside the village, and the Highlight of the site- A Synagogue from the 2nd temple time, with a lot of mosaic, and a unique table- from the 2nd temple time, which describe the temple as it was, made this place unique to Jews and Christians as well. This the only place we ever found the, regarding 2nd temple, actually showing how it was look like - fascinating!
2. The Christian area which include a beautiful church which was finished in 2014 by The Catholic church.

link to Magdala website is: https://www.magdala.org/about/

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10A. Kursi- Kursi is an archaeological site containing the ruins of a Byzantine monastery and identified by tradition as the site of Jesus' "Miracle of the Swine".
The remains of the ancient monastery were exposed accidentally, during construction of a new road, and they were excavated in the years 1971-1974. The monastery was surrounded by a stone wall (145 x 123 m), and is one of the largest in Israel. It appears that not only monks lived in the compound, but also members of a Christian sect that set itself apart from the nearby Jewish settlement on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
on the floor of the church, especially in the aisles, beautiful mosaics were found. The mosaics depict stunningly beautiful animal and vegetable decorations: cockerels, geese, doves, cormorants, and all kinds of fish. Many of the animal figures have been defaced (maybe by Muslims which dominated this area later on). The plants have fared better, and it is easy to recognize fruit trees such as citrons, figs, and pomegranates, and bunches of grapes. One of the mosaics shows a pair of doves with a basket between them. The dove in Christianity is a symbol of the holy spirit, the purity of Mary (who conceived without sin), and the spirit of Christ.
in 1980, an excavation was carried out on the hillside to the east of the church. Close to the rock, a small chapel was found, its apse incorporated in a cave.  According to Christian tradition believe, the cave is the place where Jesus met the man possessed by devils (Not a very impressive place).

link to Kursi website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/kursi-national-park/

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10B. Majrase-  The Majrase, Bettiah (Bethsaida Valley) Nature Reserve is a unique meeting point, draining the delta formed by a number of the major streams of the Golan on their way to the Sea of Galilee.

I marked it as-10B, because this site is very close to Kursi, and both of them are managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. 

the Daliyot stream flows down from the Golan into the Sea of Galilee from the north-east. At the estuary of the stream is the “wet route” (marked as a blue trail) – a section of about 800 m of walking through the stream, suitable for a spring, summer or fall visit, at the end of which it is possible to return to the starting point by the “dry route” and enjoy the nature reserve and its views without walking through water. The “dry route” is also suitable for winter hikes. At the start of the Majrase route there are washrooms and changing rooms for visitors, drinking water, and a shaded area for picnics. Lighting fires is prohibited. There is an entrance fee for the nature reserve.

To summarized it- a Very nice site, especially to families.

link to Majrase website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/the-majrase-betiha-bethsaida-valley-nature-reserve/

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11. Hamat Gader- The site of Hamat Gader was established by the Romans in the 2nd century AD. Due to volcano activities in this area (see the introduction of the Golan Heights), the Romans took advantage of the Hot Springs which erupted there, and built a beautiful Spa area with Pools and fountains.
Since then, and up to our times, Hamat Gader’s therm-mineral springs attract tourists and visitors from all over the world. In addition to the therm-mineral springs pools of Hamat Gader, the site Invite you for a relaxing swim and other activities such as:
1. Animal world: 200 crocodiles from all over the world in a natural reserve, Mini-safari housing large and small animals as well as an enchanting and shaded petting corner- for kids.
2. Spa area include A relaxing massage that is a pure pleasure, Deep tissue four-hands massage, Reflexology, water therapy and even beauty treatments.3. Two restaurants near the pool. link to Hamat Gader website is: http://hamat-gader.com/en/

12. Yaedenit- 

Yardenit is situated on the banks of the Jordan River, at the Southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Each year over half a million tourists and pilgrims, who come to experience the tranquility and spiritual beauty of the waters.

Yardenit provides pilgrims and tourists with modern comforts in the biblical setting of the Holy Land, offering a serene and spiritual setting for those wishing to baptize in the River Jordan:

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove, and a voice came from heaven; ‘Thou art my beloved Son, with thee I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11Visitors to Yardenit are greeted by this very verse from Mark’s account of the baptism of Jesus in over 80 languages and dialects, depicted in hand painted tiles by Armenian artist Hagop Antreassian on the Wall of New Life.

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Visitors may rent or purchase white baptism robes on site. There are quiet areas for group prayers and contemplation.  The river banks themselves retain their pastoral landscapes, with rich greenery and wildlife. Otters and fish swim freely in the river.

The site has handrails and wheelchair-accessible ramps leading into the river. The waters are constantly monitored for quality and safety.

link to Yardenit website is: https://www.yardenit.com/