After lunch in Nazareth we fought our way back into traffic and eventually made it out of town and headed south. Our destination was Megiddo, an important archaeological site that has seen 26 different civilizations and is the Biblical site of Armageddon. Unfortunately, when we arrived just after 3pm, the park workers told us they were closing early for Shabbat. As this was not mentioned on the National Park website, we’re pretty sure the employees simply wanted to close early.
Frustrated, we started our drive back toward Tiberias. Along the way we realized we had enough time to visit some of the churches along the northern shore of Galilee if we took roads 65 and 85. This turned out to be a beautiful drive, first around Mt. Tabor:
Then through several valleys:
Thankfully, we had enough time to explore Mt. of Beatitudes, the traditional site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, with its lovely gardens and view of Galilee. Entrance to the grounds and church were free, but it was 10 Shekels (about $2.60) to park.
The Franciscan chapel was still open, and since it was later in the day, there were only a handful of tour groups allowing us to enjoy it more. While wandering the grounds, a Korean tour group broke out into song within the church, a lovely surprise.
We left around 5pm and decided to drive through Capernaum, the hometown of several of Jesus’ disciples, before returning to our hotel. This was a fortuitous decision, as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Seven Apostles was still open and with no tour buses in sight, we had the place to ourselves. Well, except for a noisy peacock.
Located close to the shoreline, we were also able to pose for a few shots with our feet in the Sea of Galilee.
Tired, we drove to the hotel to clean up before dinner.
Saturday morning we headed back to see some of the other upper Galilee churches in Tabgha. Our first stop was the Church of the Primacy of Peter, the traditional site where Jesus told Peter to “Feed my sheep”. It is a small, simple lakeside chapel with a beautiful view.
Since we grabbed a free parking spot in the upper gravel lot across from the bus parking, we also walked the short distance to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, whose purpose is pretty self-explanatory.
Compared to many in the area, this is fairly simple interior on most details but does feature beautiful mosaic floors.
The area is known for several springs that run into the Sea of Galilee, including Job’s Spring.
Apparently the bush above the spring used to cover the pipe better… oh well. With the heat rising we got back in the car and drove around the eastern side of Galilee, crossing the Jordan River (really a creek now due to water demands) and drove south through the Jordan River valley to its terminus at the Dead Sea.