Other Sites Around the Sea of Galilee
Places of Interest
Other Sites of Interest Around the Sea of Galilee
Beit Yigal Allon Centre, Ginosar: The Galilee Boat
The main attraction of Kibbutz Ginnosar is the ancient fishing boat, now known as the Sea of Galilee Boat, displayed here in the Beit Yigal Allon Museum. Discovered in 1986, buried near the edge of the lake in mud, the boat is dated somewhere between 70 BC and 90 AD, meaning that it could have been in use during the time of Jesus. The boat is made from cedar wood and is about 27 ft. (8.27 m.) long and 7.5 ft. (2.3 m.) wide. Although there is no proof that the boat could have been used by Jesus or one of his disciples, many people have nicknamed it the Jesus Boat.
Berko Archaeological Park
The Berko Archaeological Museum provides a unique glimpse into Tiberias of the first century. Tiberias was founded in 18 AD by Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Ggreat and Jewish ruler of the Galilee (4 BC-39 AD). Herod Antipas made the new city his capital, and named the city after the Roman emperor, Tiberius Caesar. The park includes an ancient Roman gate, a theater, bathhouse, and a drainage system that is a thousand years old. It also contains gardens with paths throughout and balconies offering an overall view of the ancient city.
The Theater of Roman Tiberias was constructed in the 1st century AD, then enlarged in the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, and had a seating capacity of 7,000 people. It continued to be used for gatherings until the end of the Byzantine period and was destroyed by an earthquake that struck the city in 749 AD.
The site is located near the southern entrance of Tiberias, between the ancient cemetery and the hotels of Hammat Tiberias. A parking lot is located near the south gate, north of the Holiday Inn hotel.
Gamla Nature Reserve
High in the Golan Heights of northern Israel stretches the Gamla Nature Reserve, which is home to the ancient city of Gamla, and the Gamla Stream Waterfall (the tallest flowing waterfall in Israel). The park is full of wildlife and breathtaking views.
Gamla (camel in Hebrew) was an ancient fortified city on the Golan Heights located on a high ridge above a crossing of two gorges. During the Great Revolt against the Romans in 66 AD, it became an important stronghold where Jewish rebels fought bravely until their fatal end. The observation terrace provides a view from above the ancient city on its ridge and the remains of the early synagogue. To explore the ruins of Gamla up close, you need to take the hiking trail, aptly named “Ancient Trail,” which is about .62 miles (1 km.) each way. However, because it involves some climbing and descending over stones, it can take about 2 hours. There is a viewing place by the park headquarters that grants a beautiful view of the ruins for those who don’t care to hike down to them.
Gamla Stream Waterfall lookout point provides a view of the cliffs of the Gamla Stream canyon and a colony of nesting birds of prey. There is an easy 90-minute trail (45 minutes each way) leading to the lookout terrace from which the highest waterfall in Israel, 170 ft. (51 m.), flows year-round. Along the way, you will pass ancient dolmans, and a collection of bronze age burial mounds made of huge boulders.
Hamat Tverya National Park
This park is in the ancient village of Hamat and is much older than Tiberias. “Hama” means hot spring. It was one of the fortified cities mentioned in the Bible within the Tribe of Naftali:
“And the fortified cities were Tziddim, Tzer, and Hamat, and Rakkat, and Chinneret” (Josh. 19:35).
After the founding of Tiberias, Hamat became Hamat Tverya. The distance between the two cities was one mile (1.6 km.). In the park, the remains of mosaics from 3 different synagogues that were built one on top of the other, can be found. The first synagogue was built about 230 AD, the second existed in the 4th century AD, and the third was rebuilt after being destroyed in an earthquake in the 5th century. The synagogue underwent preservation, restoration, and reconstruction, and is now surrounded by glass walls.
Tiberias Hot Springs – Hamat Tverya National Park – On the Tiberias Hot Springs site, 17 thermo-mineral springs flow at a temperature of about 140 F (60 C). The water flows in a system of underground channels to the Turkish Hamam, a beautifully preserved 18th-century structure. Surplus water that does not flow into the Tiberias hot baths is collected in a pool located on-site. Because of the curative properties attributed to the waters, the Romans erected luxurious baths, attracting people from all over the empire. The remains of the ancient Roman baths are located at the southern end of the site.
Hippos (Horvat Susita)
The ruins of the ancient city of Hippos (horse in Greek), known today as Horvat Susita, are located 1.2 miles (2 km.) east of the Sea of Galilee on the plateau of a diamond-shaped mountain, 1,148 ft. (350 m.) above the sea. The city was almost entirely isolated from its surroundings, with just a narrow saddle-bridge leading towards the western slopes of the Golan Heights. The entire city was surrounded by an imposing fortification wall.
The ruins of Hippos are of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods, dating back to the time between the 3rd century BC and 7th century AD. During the Roman period, Hippos belonged to the Decapolis, a group of ten cities that were regarded as centers of Greek culture in an area predominantly Jewish. Archaeologists have uncovered a main colonnaded street, Roman fortifications, public baths, and temples from both the Hellenistic and Roman periods. More recently, a Roman basilica and the remains of at least seven different churches built during the Byzantine period have been uncovered. This confirms that by the 4th century AD, the majority of residents in the city were probably Christian. Hippos continued to exist until the mid-8th century, when the city was destroyed by the catastrophic earthquake of 749 AD and was never again resettled.
Mitzpe Ofir Observation Point
This is a beautiful lookout and rest area in the southern Golan Heights that offers a view of the entire Sea of Galilee. From this viewpoint, not only can you see the whole lake, but you can also see the Lower Galilee mountains, the Upper Galilee, and the Golan Heights. The lookout is also part of a long hiking trail down to old Derech Bnei Yehuda (village settlement). This is a great place to spend a late afternoon and witness spectacular sunsets. Mitzpe Ofir was established and is maintained by Mr. Shaal of Givat Yoav, who chose this beautiful spot to memorialize his son Ofir, who died of a long illness when he was only 16 years old. A grove of 16 olive trees has been planted there, one for each year of Ofir’s life.
The Yigal Allon Promenade in Tiberias is more commonly known as the Tiberias Promenade. It’s located along the Sea of Galilee near the Old City of Tiberias and the small Marina. The Promenade offers a pleasant stroll by the water, allowing visitors to enjoy the beautiful view of the water, boats, and the marina. You can take a ride on a boat on the Sea of Galilee from here as well. Sunset and the evening are exceptional times to visit the Promenade with its many restaurants and souvenir shops open and busy.
Tiberium Light Show
Israel’s world-renowned multimedia design company created a breathtaking water-music-light show for Tiberias. This spectacular show features dancing fountains with artistic laser lights, music, and pyrotechnics screened onto jets of water, reaching over ten meters high to create a dazzling display of water and light. The show takes place at the south end of the Yigal Alon Promenade and is free to the public three times each evening from 7-9 pm, except in rainy weather. (Note: Tiberium depends on the water level of the Sea of Galilee. If the level is too high, the light show will not take place.)
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