Lower Galilee Attractions
Introduction: Most of the tours in Israel......
1. Kafer Rama- Rama is a Israeli Village near Beit Hakerem Valley. The village population is largely Arab. As of the end of 2008, the population numbered 7,600 and consisted of:
Christians - 50.6%
Druze - 30.4%
Muslims - 19%
The American scholar Edward Robinson, who visited Israel in 1838, identified the settlement of Ramah in the Asher tribe which is the source of the village's name. It has a Hebrew inscription from the 3rd century. In identifying the ancient settlement, Robinson used sarcophagi on a hill near the village. An important city existed at the site during the Crusader rule in Israel. The present settlement was established, according to local tradition, in the 17th century and was among the largest villages in the Galilee during the Ottoman period. Ulrich Jasper Zetzen described the village as a town with well-built houses. In the second half of the 19th century, the village was described as containing 60 Christian families and 60 Druze. In 1923Was the first village in Palestine-Israel, who self-administration (by the village council) by the rule of the British Mandate. The village was captured by the forces of defense in our Independence War, and annexed to Israel in the armistice agreements in 1949.
What can we see there during our tour in Israel?
1.1. Tour in the alleys while a local tour guide will tell us some of the secret stories of the place.
1.2. Visit the Greek Catholic church. Meeting with father Jeraiese and open discussion regarding the relationship between the religious in the village.
1.3. Hosting by the Bishara family for a private music performance. You can hear the music in this link: https://youtu.be/W1QGawwFwoQ
1.4. Tasting the delicious local sweets- Unique to the place.to fulfill their dream of returning to the promised land.
2. Karmiel- Karmiel was one of the first cities in Israel to be established according to an urban master plan. It was built as part of the Central Galilee Development Project. Work began in 1963, and the official inauguration ceremony took place in October 1964.
Karmiel is very known in its parks.
Two of them are with more than 60 statues, waterfalls, Natural Pools, birds, trees, beautiful plants & flowers, and environmental sculpture.
Their size is more than 60 Dunham (15 Akers). You can also find there nice restaurants, and a small mall -if you like to rest, in Coffee shops.
In addition to the parks, you can visit an authentic center of the Jewish Ethiopians community which came here in the 90's. You can meet them, hear their awful story of immigration when they walked through the deserts of South Sudan seeking to reach the connection point with the Israeli's airplanes, which landed there secretly. Not all of them succeeded. Thousands of them die, women were raped by the Bedouin who guided them, they were robbed- only
3.. Ancient Yodfat (Jotapata) - Ancient Yodfat is mentioned in the Mishna as a fortified Jewish village dating from the time of Joshua, corresponding with the Iron Age. Archaeological explorations of the site, however, have thus far revealed a modest village established some time during the Hellenistic period, between the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. As the Hasmonean kings extended their influence into the Galilee during the last decades of the 2nd century BCE, a change of population occurred at Yodfat and the village was populated by Jews.According to the Mishnah, the town of Yodfat was encompassed by a wall before the Israelite conquest of Canaan under Joshua.By the first century CE Yodfat had expanded to encompass an area of 50 dunams (13 acres). In 67 AD the Romans siege and destroy Yodfat as it described in Josephus Flavius' The Wars of the Jews, his chronicle of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans. Led by future emperor Vespasianus, three Roman legions — Legio V Macedonica, X Fretensis, and XV Apollinaris — besieged Yodfat, meeting strong Jewish resistance. After 47 days the city fell by treachery, and Josephus describes the death of 40,000 Jews and the enslavement of 1,200 women and children. Yodfat was razed and burnt on the first of the Hebrew month of Tammuz (July). While a few dozen remaining fighters committed suicide, Josephus was captured by the Romans.In the coming years, he become the most iportant Historion in this period.
4. The Monkey Forest- The Monkey Forest started out as a living corner for Yodfat children in the 1970s. So, the squirrel monkey ancestors came from a habitat in Belgium.
Even then, the attitude was that holding the monkeys in the cages was wrong, so they got a large piece of forest for life in their own territory. In 1990, the Monkey Forest became an animal, educational and tourism heaven. Ever since, the basis for connecting with the animals and the vegetation is respect and love.
The approach is that animals feel, matter to our world and deserve to live (when not in nature) as close to natural conditions as possible.
This is the spirit they treat with all the animals in the monkey forest and they ask the visitors, to respect this The link to the Website is: http://www.kofim.co.il/
5. Sepphoris or Zippori- Ancient Zippori is one of most beautiful sites in the Lower Galilee.
There are fancy houses, mosaics, Water system, Temples, Theatre, Roman Baths, Synagogue and Churches, from all over the millenniums, started at the prehistoric period through the Iron period, continue to Second Temple time, Roman period, early Muslim period, Crusaders, and even the Othman's period.
On some of the periods, Zippori is mention as the most significant city in the galilee area. in "Protoevangelium of James"(5:2) Zippori is mention as the Birth place of Mary. The Leaders of the Jews in the 2nd century, use to live there. Rabi Yehuda- the president of the Sanhedrin, wrote the Mishna (one of the most important books in Jewish history) there.
In the site you'll be able to see films, and Audio/video guides in the Roman Villa, in the Theatre, In the Othman's fortress, and in the Synagogue. A very interesting place - a must site!
6. Cana Village- Cana Village is located 10 KM (6.5 Miles) North to Nazareth. The majority of the population there are Muslim (88.5%) and the rest are Christians (11.5%). In 1912 there was a majority of Christians in the Village (52.8%), but in the last 100 years, there is a phenomena of Christian Arab's immigration, form the Arab villages and cities to the Jewish Communities, due to the fact they feel more comfortable among the Jews than among the Muslims.
In Cana Village we should visit the Wedding Church. In the church, which was built in the 19th century, we can see the remaining of the ancient Synagogue, remaining of the Byzantine church and one of the Jars (which are mention in the Gospel of John 4:46-50).
According to traditional believe, Nathaniel (which means in Hebrew: God has given), one of the 12 apostles of Christ (St. Bartholomew) was born and buried in Cana. The church, which according to traditional believe, he is buried there, is closed on most of the times, but, you can have the opportunity to look at the small cemetery they have inside the church. Link to Wedding Church Website is: http://www.cicts.org/default.asp?id=827
7. Nazareth- Nazareth, which considered the most Holy city for Christians in the Lower galilee, contain less than 30% Christians- the rest are Muslims.
The Phenomenon which I wrote about in Cana, happens also here.
In Nazareth there are several places to see - all of them connecting to Christianity.
The first, and the most known site is the Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation. In this compound you find two important Churches:
7.1. The Basilica of the Annunciation. This church was the first one in the modern age, which was built by the National Israel construction company SOLEL BONE (the church was design by the Catholic church, and was built in order to serve all the branches in Christianity.). It was built in the 60's of the 20 century, as a preparation for the first visit of Pope Paul VI in Israel. Link to the a Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation is: https://studio.youtube.com/video/CW1Qrum-Lv0/edit
7.2. St. Joseph Church. The St. Joseph church is built where, according to tradition, the carpentry workshop of Joseph, father of Jesus once was. Some traditions also claim this was Joseph's house. This Franciscan church was established in 1914 over the ruins of more ancient churches and is located in the vicinity of the Basilica of the Annunciation. In the crypt (the lower level of the church) there is an ancient water pit, mosaics, caves and barns from ancient Nazareth which have survived since the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C. The link to the church Website is: http://www.nazarethinfo.org/en/attractions/st-josephs-church
7.3. The Greek Orthodox Annunciation Church (also known as St. Gabriel Church and Mary's Well Church). This small church, with its fortress like appearance, is one of the most beautiful and unique ones in Israel. It also the most sacred place for the Greek-Orthodox community in Nazareth. This church has many wall paintings, statues and chandeliers. The sound of water sprouting out of the fountain inside, as well as its warm, bold colors, create a warmth, spiritual feeling.
This church is built where, according to an ancient tradition, was the annunciation to Virgin Mary from Archangel Gabriel as she came by to draw water from the spring. The church was established during Crusader-Era times in the 12th century, shortly after the Crusaders’ occupation, then was destroyed during the Mamluk Era times by the Mamluk Sultan Baibers in the 13th century, and re-built during the Ottoman Era times in 1750.
The church is built where, according to an ancient tradition followed by the Greeks and the Orthodox, Archangel Gabriel told Virgin Mary that she is about to conceive by the holy spirit and give birth to the son of god. This happened as Mary went down to draw water from the spring. The origin of this tradition is a late external literature called "Proto Evanglion for Jacob" (written, according to tradition, by St. James). Tradition also tells about Jesus the kid who followed his mother to this spring in order to draw water as well.
The church is divided to 2: the central prayer structure from the 18th century, and the more ancient, well preserved part from the 12th century, led to by an arched passageway padded with Ottoman tiles.
The crypt includes an elevated podium, and behind it is the fountain drawing water from the spring above the church, through the church itself to the water trough located on Mary's Plaza, also known as "Mary's Well”. The walls have an Arabic writing saying: "The annunciation to Virgin Mary nearby the spring”. An elevated water pit is located where the apsis starts, for the convenience of the pilgrims drawing the holy water from here. Above the altar you can see a picture dedicated to the annunciation.
link to the Website of the Church is: http://annunciationkc.org/
7.4. The Mary of Nazareth international Centre. The " Miriam Center" opened in January 2012, the center is located 50 meters from the Basilica of the Gospel.
It offers its visitors a fascinating visual tour through the Bible and the lives of Mary and Jesus.
The center is operated by the French church community and incorporates the various religious streams in the area.
The center is located on the fourth floor of a restored 17th-century building. Visitors can follow Miriam's journey with a three-dimensional presentation presented in 13 different languages, including Hebrew.
Another high point is an external observation of the recent excavations where the remains of an ancient Roman house, dating to the time of Jesus and the first of its kind found in Nazareth, were revealed.
Using special technologies, we have created an extensive rooftop garden throughout the central chapel, offering a tranquil place for meditation, wandering, relaxing and enjoying the spectacular views of the Gospel Basilica and Nazareth. Link to their Website is: https://il.chemin-neuf.org/en/home/locations/mary-of-nazareth-international-center
7.5. Mount Precipice- Mount Precipice is located at the entrance to the city of Nazareth , and is identified in the Christian tradition as the mountain from which the Nazarenes attempted to push Jesus from after infuriating them with his sermon, declaring himself as the Messiah (Luke 4). The village people dragged Jesus to the mountain top, but in the last moment Jesus jumped off the mountain and disappeared.
The mountain was sanctified in ancient times and in the 8th century, eight of the twelve priests in Nazareth lived on the mountain. On the mountain’s western side there are still remains of the Byzantine convent. The sheer sloped mountain is 397 meters high and provides one of the best, most beautiful observation points over the Jezreel Valley and its surrounding mountains: The Carmel Mountains, The Gilled Mountains and the Tabor Mountain. Link to the Website is: http://www.nazarethinfo.org/en/attractions/historical-sites/mount-precipice
Mona Liza of Zippori
8. Mount Tabor- Mount Tabor is located in Lower Galilee, Israel, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 18 KM (11 mi) west of the Sea of Galilee.
In the Hebrew Bible (Joshua, Judges), Mount Tabor is the site of the Battle of Mount Tabor between the Israelite army under the leadership of Barak and the army of the Canaanite king of Hazor, Jabin, commanded by Sisera. According to the catholic and Orthodox Christian tradition, Mount Tabor is the site where the transfiguration of Jesus, occurs.
On the summit of the mount, there is a beautiful church, which was built in the 20's of the 20 Century- Design by Antonio Barluzzi.
The church was built upon the ruins of a Byzantine church from the fifth or sixth century and a Crusader church from the 12th century, which was built in honor of Jesus. The friars of the church are next to the church in a monastery established in 1873.
The church consists of three naves which are separated by two rows of columns supporting arches. In the two bell towers on either side of the entrance, there are two chapels. The northern chapel is dedicated to Moses and it contains an image of him receiving the Tables of the Law on Mount Sinai, and the southern chapel is dedicated to Elijah the prophet and it contains an image of him invoking God during his confrontation with the Ba'al prophets on Mount Carmel.
In the upper part of the church, above the altar, there is a mosaic which depicts the Transfiguration, and on the Transfiguration holiday on August 6, it is illuminated by the sun beams which are reflected by a glass plate located on the floor of the church.
On the right side of the church, there is a beautiful observation to the Jezreel Valley, Milek Valley, the Samarian Mountains and the Coastal plain. Beautiful.
9. Nein Church- Nain or Naim in English, is an Arab village in northern Israel. In the Holy new testament, it written: "11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.
13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country" (Gospel of Luke 7:11-17).
In the village, there is a new Church which was established only in 2019. All the information regarding this church, you can see in the link to the Website of the church: https://www.custodia.org/en/news/church-nain-will-be-reopened
10.Tel (archaeological mound) Megiddo-or Armageddon- The ancient city of Megiddo is known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance, especially under its Greek name Armageddon. During the Bronze Age, Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state and during the Iron Age, a royal city in the Kingdom of Israel. The site is now protected as Megiddo National Park and is a World Heritage Site.
Megiddo's Early Bronze Age I (3500–3100 BCE) temple was described by its excavators as "the most monumental single edifice so far uncovered" in the early Bronze Age, and among the largest structures of its time in the Near East.
arly in the second millennium BCE, at the beginning of Middle Bronze Age, A royal burial was found in Tel Megiddo, dating to the later phase of the Middle Bronze Age, around 1700-1600 BCE, when the power of Canaanite Megiddo was at its peak and before the ruling dynasty collapsed under the might of Thutmose's army.
At the Battle of Megiddo, the city was subjugated by Thutmose III (1479–1425 BCE), and became part of the Egyptian Empire. However, the city still prospered, and a massive and elaborate government palace was constructed in the Late Bronze Age.The city was destroyed around 1150 BCE, and the area was resettled by what some scholars believe to be early Israelites. When theIsraelites captured it, though, it became an important city, before being destroyed, possibly by Aramaean raiders, and rebuilt, this time as an administrative center for Tiglath-Pileser III's occupation of Samaria. However, it was finally abandoned around 586 BCE (after the destruction of the First Temple). Link to Megiddo Website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/tel-megiddo-armageddon-national-park/
11. Beit She'arim - Beit She'arim was founded at the end of the 1st century BCE, during the reign of King Herod, and reached the height of its prosperity in the Roman period.
The town in southern Galilee was first mentioned by Josephus Flavius (Life 118-119) as Besara, the administrative center of the estates of Queen Berenice in the Jezreel Valley in the 2nd century. Later in the same century the town gained fame when the Sanhedrin (Jewish legislature and supreme council after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE) was moved to Beit She'arim and Rabbi Judah Hanasi (The president of the Sanhedrin) took up residence there. The revered Rabbi is especially known as the redactor of the Mishnah (collection of oral laws) and though he died in Zippori, he was buried in Beit She'arim. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, many Jews, both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora, were buried in Beit She'arim, and its cemetery became a necropolis.
The large cemetery of Beit She'arim contained many tombs and catacombs, some of them family tombs, others public burial places. Hewn into the slopes of the hills southwest of the town, some tombs are small and simple, but many became, in time, complex networks of catacombs.
The public caves are particularly large and elaborate, with entrances via large courtyards. Their decorative stone façades are in Roman architectural style. The entrances have three openings with heavy pivoting stone doors, carved in imitation of wooden doors with panels and nails. From the entrance, one descends several steps to the burial cave, which consists of a central hallway and a network of halls, at times two stories high. One of the catacombs consists of 16 burial halls with 400 assorted burial places, including troughs and pit graves, . Sarcophagi made of local limestone or marble and a few of clay or lead, were found in the caves. There was also evidence of burial in wooden coffins, of which only the metal parts survived.