Israel 2012: Galilee, part II (Mt. Tabor, Tabgha and Capernaum)

by | May 13, 2012 | International Travel, Travel

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:

Um ElGhanam at the base of Mt Tabor

Then through several valleys:

Israeli countryside

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.

view from the church

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.

Church of the Beatitudes

Church of the Beatitudes dome
beautiful ceiling

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.

Greek Orthodox Monastery

Greek Orthodox Monastery in Capernaum

Located close to the shoreline, we were also able to pose for a few shots with our feet in the Sea of Galilee.

putting my 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.

Church of the Primacy of Peter

Holy Place No Shorts
not-so-subtle reminder

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.

Church of the Multiplication
church interior

priest taking a digital photo of Jesus
old and new

Compared to many in the area, this is fairly simple interior on most details but does feature beautiful mosaic floors.

floor mosaics

The area is known for several springs that run into the Sea of Galilee, including Job’s Spring.

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.

Tagged with: churches | Galilee | Israel | Israel 2012

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