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Galilee Lake Attractions

The Kinneret is an important national symbol due to it being Israel's largest and most important source and reservoir of drinking water. Each year thousands of tourists visit the Kinneret region and revel in the beauty and history of the site.
For both Christians and Jews, the Kinneret region is of utmost importance. There are a number of revered Jewish figures who were laid to rest in the region, such as Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes and Maimonides and their graves attract huge numbers of people who wish to pray at these auspicious places.  The Kinneret also has special significance in the Christian religion because it is believed that Jesus performed many miracles in the region. Therefore, Christian pilgrims also make their way to the area, visiting sites such as the Church of the Multiplication, Mount of Beatitudes and the baptism site, Yardenit.
The Kinneret region also played an important role in Jewish history, from Talmudic times until the early years of the State of Israel and sites such as Korazim, the Kinneret Courtyard, Ginosar and Ein Gev provide visitors with the perfect opportunity to understand and re-experience the rich history of the region.
Modern attractions such as the irresistible Galita Chocolate Farm, the exhilarating Start Point Sailing Club and the Abu Kayak Sailing experience also supply the visitors who are seeking a unique experience with just that.
The Kinneret is often automatically associated with sunny, sandy beaches and there is good reason for that but for those searching for the historical or outdoorsy or adrenalin-filled or gastronomical side of the Kinneret, look no further; the Kinneret region is just waiting to be explored.
 


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For those familiar with the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount will probably ring a bell. For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to one of the famous sermons that Jesus delivered. The specific site of the sermon is unconfirmed but for the past 1600 years it has been accepted that a small hill known as the Mount of Beatitudes (or Har HaOsher in Hebrew), that overlooks the Sea of Galilee is where he delivered the sermon.
Due to the fact that Jesus was banished to nearby Capernaum, the suggestion that the Mount of Beatitudes is the place where Jesus delivered his sermon is entirely plausible. Tourists and pilgrims have been to this site since the fourth century. Today, a church, monastery and hostel can be found on site and it is easy to picture Jesus looking out over the multitudes of people and delivering his words.
From this vantage point on the northern side of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret in Hebrew) one can look upon the places where Jesus lived and worked. Archaeological evidence points to a church that was erected near to the site dating back to the fourth century. There is a rock-cut cistern, remains of a monastery and part of an original mosaic floor display to be seen.
The present Church of the Beatitudes was built in 1938, is built in an octagonal shape that represents the eight beatitudes, has a marble veneer and a gold mosaic on the dome. A mosaic floor was installed in 1984 by Italian Vasco Nasorri.
The Church of the Beatitudes is a stunning place to spend some time in before moving on to the beautiful surrounding gardens.
 




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Capernaum National Park contains the remains of a fishing village that dates back to the Second Temple. This site was the focus of Jesus' Galilee ministry. The antiques on the site are under the aegis of the Franciscan Church. The national park around the antiquities site is under the aegis of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
During excavations of a residential quarter from the time of the Second Temple remains were unearthed. The private dwellings of the time were usually made of basalt, the most common local rock and the construction was simple. The remains of the Synagogue that were discovered here were more opulent, made of limestone and adorned with floral, faunal and geometric patterns. Some of the patterns are clearly Jewish in their origin, such as the seven-branched candelabra that is featured. The Synagogue was in use during the Byzantine period and an earlier synagogue also stood here- built in the third or fourth century.
One of the rooms of a dwelling place at the site is covered with plaster fragments that bear inscriptions in Greek that attest to the existence of a Christian community. Today a modern Church stands over a Church that was built in the fifth century.
A dock near to the antiques site allows visitors to sail to Capernaum from Tiberias and Ein Gev. The dock was constructed to rise and fall with the water level as the level of the lake changes frequently. The park also contains natural and domesticated plants through which visitors can wander as they connect with the site.
 




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Yardenit (diminutive form of Yarden, meaning "little Jordan") is a popular Baptist site. This is where the water flows into the Jordan River and eventually flows into the Dead Sea that is located over 100km away. Christians believe that this is the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
Many pilgrims visit specially and receive blessings from their priest or minister while standing in the water in white robes. There is a nearby Visitors Center, run by the neighboring Kibbutz Kinneret which is home to a souvenir shop, restaurant, showers, changing rooms and baptismal pools.
At the entrance is the "Wall of New Life" which was created by an Armenian artist, Hagop Antreassian. It is called so because Christians believe that baptism changes one's life and brings one closer to Jesus, thereby becoming a new person.
The Yardenit is open daily and the entrance is free of charge. For those wanting to be baptized, one must wear a white baptismal robe that can be bought or rented, along with towels in the souvenir shop.
 




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Tabgha (also known as Tabkha) or Ein Sheva in Hebrew, is a small area on the north-westerly shore of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret in Hebrew). Tabgha is not far from the Mount of Beatitudes from where Jesus spoke his most famous sermon. In ancient times Tabgha was known as Heptapegon, meaning "Place of the Seven Springs."  These seven springs produce warm water, increasing the production of algae which in turn attracts more fish. Fishermen have therefore flocked to this site in droves for thousands of years.
Byzantine pilgrims would also visit the Heptapegon in droves in order to rest  under the shady trees and to take advantage of the excellent fishing. In fact, tow of the three pilgrimage destinations in the area relate to abundant food- the miracle of the loaves and fishes during Jesus' Galilean ministry and a lakeside breakfast after his resurrection.
Tabgha is a beautiful area with much to see and is a popular site for modern Christian pilgrims with Capernaum to the north and the Galilee Boat to the south.
 




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Ein Gev ("Waterhole Spring") is the name of a Kibbutz that is located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret). Founded in 1937 by a group of pioneers from Germany, Austria and the Baltic countries, it came under frequent attack during the Arab riots before the Second World War, particularly vulnerable in its initial years when it could only be reached by boat from Tiberias.
Early on the Kibbutz developed fishing in the Kinneret as well as tourism and today the Kibbutz operates a holiday resort, fish restaurant and sailing boats. There is also intensive farming at Ein Gev, with bananas, dairy products and ostrich breeding.
The resort is one of the largest in the area and the location of the resort; on the shores of the lake, provides an ideal setting for a relaxing, enjoyable vacation. Near the fish restaurant is a well-kept and tidy beach.
Every year on the festival of Passover, the Ein Gev Music Festival is held and a concert hall that can seat 2,500 is erected.
Near the Kibbutz is the archaeological site of Susita.
 




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Ginosar is a Kibbutz on the western banks of the Kinneret. It was founded in 1937 on the eve of the festival of Purim by a group of young socialists. Originally an agricultural community, its primary source of income is now from tourism. In 1986 there was a severe drought and when the level of the lake dropped, a frame of a fishing boat was revealed and it has been dated to 100-70 CE and is known as the Sea of Galilee Boat. It was rescued, placed in a special tank and displayed at the Beit Yigal Allon Museum.
Ginosar is home to a quaint resort village that provides a calm, country vacation and offers a variety of activities in the area.  attractions include the annual Jacob's Ladder Festival- a three-day festival of world-wide music; the Adam BaGalil Musem- a hands-on museum and educational center that explores early settlement in the Galilee; bike rental; jeeps and dune buggy trips; horseback riding; sailing on the Jordan river; extreme sport activities; spa and hot springs and much, much more.
 




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Korazim is a town that is first mentioned in sources from the Second Temple Period due to the fine wheat they inhabitants of the town produced. The town flourished at the end of the Talmudic period.
A magnificent synagogue was built in Korazim at the end of the fourth century or at the beginning of the fifth century. The synagogue was made of basalt and was carved in geometric, floral and faunal patterns. Many visitors use the synagogue today for Bar Mitzva ceremonies and weddings.
Additionally, a carved basalt seat was found that was intended for the most respected members of the community.  Also an ancient ritual bath, two large dwellings and an olive pres s were reconstructed near the synagogue.
Conies can be spotted on the rocks as well as climbing the Christ-thorn jujube trees.
There is also a Bedouin Sheikh's tomb at Korazim.
 




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South of the Old City of Tiberias is the Hamat Tiberias National Park, home to seventeen hot springs- the 60-degree Celsius waters are infused with about one-hundred minerals that have unique therapeutic qualities. The healing capabilities of the site have been known for two-thousand years and the baths have attracted visitors since time immemorial.  The water from these springs feed the Tiberias Springs Spa.
Hamat Tiberias was discovered in 1920 by members of the "Labor Battalion" who paved the road from Tiberias to Tzemah. A year later a ritual candelabra was found what had seven arms that is today displayed in the Israel Museum. Another interesting find is a stone chair.
The remains of the local synagogue seem to be part of the synagogue of Severus, a building that was set up between the years 337-286 BC, during the period when the Sanhedrin was present in Tiberias. The synagogue was so called due to Greek lettering found at the site. The synagogue has a mosaic floor, the earliest-dating mosaic floor of all those revealed in ancient synagogues in Israel.
 




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Kursi is the Arabic name given to the valley whose western side touches the lake shore and where the remains of a Jewish fishing village from the times of the Mishnah and Talmud were found. On the eastern side of the valley, at the foot of the Golan heights, a monastery was discovered by accident during road construction after the Six Day War.
The monastery measures 123 x 145 m, making it the largest one found in Israel. It was built together with its church in the fifth century CE and was damaged during the Persian invasion in 614 CE. The church was restored only to be abandoned again in the eighth century. A mosaic floor depicting animal life and plant designs was uncovered here and an inscription in Greek can be found on the floor of the baptistery.
In 1980 a small chapel was discovered near a promontory, whose apse was incorporated into a cave- this cave is identified by Christians as the place where Jesus performed a miracle for man plagued by unclean spirits.
There is a bench in the park known as "the magic bench" and it is popular among visitors, many of whom claim that wishes they made while sitting there came true.
 




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The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes is located in Tabgha on the northwesterly shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is a modern Church that stands on the ruins of 4th and 5th century Churches and houses a splendid Christian mosaic as well as the stone on which the miraculous mal was allegedly laid.
According to Christian belief, five thousand people had come to greet Jesus who had tried to seek out some peace and quiet. By the time they met him it was dinnertime and since there was nowhere in the village where food could be easily bought Jesus fed them all by miraculously multiplying his disciple's five loaves and two fishes so that there was enough food for everyone present.
Although there is a possibility that this is the actual site of the miracle, there is reason to believe that it is not so likely. It is hypothesized that due to the area being well-watered and proving shade, many Byzantine pilgrims would have sat here to eat and rest and perhaps the tradition that two miracles involving food was tied into this place.
On site there is a block of limestone found under the altar table that is believed to be Jesus' table. In front of the altar is a beautiful restored mosaic that portrays two fish flanking a basket of loaves. The lovely 5th-century mosaic floor is the earliest known example of a figured pavement in Palestinian-Christian art.
 




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Along the promenade that is found south of Tiberias, one can't help but notice a large cemetery that climbs the slope across the street. Some of the tombstones in the cemetery are so old that the inscription upon them can no longer be read. Others are more recent as the cemetery is still in use.
There is a tradition that the resurrection of the dead will begin here. The tradition is rooted in the Babylonian Talmud which notes that Tiberias is the lowest of all cities and will arise even before Jerusalem. Maimonides, in his writings, wrote that the resurrection in Tiberias will begin forty years before anywhere else.
Herod Antipas founded Tiberias in the hope that it would be a showcase Roman city but built the city on top of graves, an act that is forbidden by Jewish law. As a result, no self-respecting Jew would live there. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was known as a rebel against the Roman leadership as well as the author of the mystical Zohar and he bathed in the hot springs in Tiberias and was subsequently cured of a skin ailment. He then conducted a ceremony to purify Tiberias and soon after Tiberias rose to prominence.
Many famous, holy Jewish personalities are buried in the cemetery. Rabbi Isaiah ben Avraham HaLevi Horowitz- also known by the acronym "Shlah"- was a renowned leader, kabbalist and hlachic guide from the seventeenth century. Rabbi Nachman Horodenker was a student of the Baal Shem Tov and paternal grandfather of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. Numerous other students of the Baal Shem Tov are also buried in the cemetery.
 




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Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes is considered to be one of the greatest Tannaim of the fourth generation. A very close disciple of Rabbi Akiva, he was one of the five students of Rabbi Akiva that survived the plague that killed twenty-four thousand. According to the Talmud his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is one of the few women mentioned in the Talmud.
The name "Meir" is a sobriquet- his real name was Nehorai. The name "Meir" means "illuminator" and was given to him because the enlightened the eyes of the scholars and students of Torah study. The epithet Baal Hanes means "he who does miracles." He was called so due to miracles that he performed in his lifetime. Many Jewish households have a Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes charity box and on happy occasions, in times of worry or when anticipating a birth, a few coins would be placed in the box and the phrase, "G-d of Rabbi Meir, answer me!"
Rabbi Meir passed away outside of Israel but was brought to Tiberias, the same city where his teacher Rabbi Akiva died, and was buried there on the shores of the Kinneret.
The grave can be found on the right side of the road at the southern exit from Tiberias, going towards Tzemah, opposite the Tiberias Hot Springs.
 




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The Tomb of Maimonides is located in central Tiberias on the western shore of the Kinneret. Maimonides died in Egypt in 1204 and was briefly buried there before being reinterred in Tiberias. The tomb of Maimonides is one of the most important Jewish pilgrimage sites in Israel and one of Tiberias' most visited attractions. Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz and Yokhanan Ben-Zakkai are also buried on the same site.
There are a number of legends told about the burial of Maimonides. Firstly, according to Jewish tradition his bones we placed for a week in a small shrine where he had studied and healed strangers. Some believe his bones never left Egypt whereas others believe that he was then buried in Tiberias.
Another legend tells of a group of Bedouins who came to attack the funeral cortege as it marched through the desert until they realized that it was the funeral of the man who had attended to them and their families for free. As a result, they formed a protective guard instead for the procession as it made its way to Palestine.
The Tomb of Maimonides is found a mere five minutes from the Central Bus Station in Tiberias. Walk up Yokhanan Ben-Zakkai Street from haYarden Street; the tomb is two blocks up on the right up a wide stairway.
•    Please respect the sanctity of the place by dressing modestly- scarves are available to borrow at the entrance.
 




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In 1908, the Kinneret Courtyard farm was established next to the Moshava Kinneret. During the period of the Second Aliyah (1904-1914), the Agricultural Training Courtyard served as an agricultural  and social laboratory, with the first pioneers coming here and it serving as the birthplace of social experimentation with ideas such as "Kvutza" (one such example being Degania), "Kibbutz" (an example being Ein Harod) and "Moshav" (for example Nahalal) being coined here.
The feminist revolution also played a role in the Kinneret Courtyard which was home to the "Chavat Ha'almot," a women's training farm. The first agricultural schools were also started here. The site was renovated and restored and one can take part today in guided tours that acquaint one with the heroes of the time and the great ideas of the pioneers who established the country.
 




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The Galita Chocolate Farm is a charming place, located on Kibbutz Deganya Bet in the Jordan Valley, approximately 300 meters from the shores of the Kinneret. The farm is housed in a lovely old stone building that functioned as the first cowshed of the Kibbutz about 85 years ago! Snuggled between the banana groves and the luscious lawns, Galita offers a sensory pleasurable experience and true heaven for chocolate lovers!
Included in the Galita Chocolate Farm experience are;
•    A film depicting the story of chocolate- from the fruit on the tree to the chocolate melting in your mouth,
•    Plaques relaying  legends and tales related to chocolate,
•    Chocolate workshops that teach participants how to work with raw materials so as to produce chocolate at home. The workshops are designed for groups and last three hours.
•    A factory outlet that includes a display window where one can view the factory in action,
•    A coffee bar with a variety of delicious treats, including homemade ice-cream.
 


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