The Sea of Galilee is located in the north of Israel. The lake is one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations for Christian visitors in the Holy Land. Jesus Christ lived in Nazareth, a small town about 25 kilometers west of the lake. There are many places around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spoke to his disciples. The most famous was the Sermon on the Mount and the place where bread and fish were proliferated. Both places are in the north of the Sea of Galilee. Simon Peter was a fisherman at the lake and was chosen by Jesus as his successor. Peter traveled to Rome and founded the first Christian community there.
In addition to its religious importance, the Sea of Galilee is also the deepest freshwater lake in the world. The water level is around 210 m below sea level. The Sea of Galilee has an area of 165 km². The lake is around 20 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide. The deepest point is 43 m below the water surface. The largest city on the Sea of Galilee is Tiberias, from here excursion boats cruise on the lake. In Tiberias there are also most of the hotels and restaurants on the lake.
The Sea of Galilee is fed by the Jordan and other small streams that originate from the Golan Heights.
The Church of the Multiplication is located in Tabgha, a small town in the north of the Sea of Galilee. According to the Gospel of Matthew, some 5,000 people were fed here. This is considered one of the miracles that Jesus is said to have accomplished. With 5 loaves of bread and two fish, he fed all the people who had followed him to the Sea of Galilee.
In the 4th century a church was built on this site, of which only mosaic floors are preserved. The property was bought by German Catholics in 1889. The current church was built in 1982 by the Cologne architects Georgen + Baumann in the Byzantine style. The Church of the Multiplication is administered by the Benedictines, who are based on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
The place Capernaum is about 3 kilometers east of the Church of Multiplication, on the north shore of the lake. Jesus is said to have lived here for some time. Some of his disciples are said to have come from the village. At the time of Jesus, Capernaum was a border post on the road to Damascus. Jesus is said to have given the famous Sermon on the Mount on the hill above the town.
About 1 kilometer above the Church of Multiplication is a Greek Orthodox monastery, which was commissioned by the Italian dictator Mussolini. The Church of the Beatitudes stands on the place where Jesus is said to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
In Capernaum there is an excavation site with an old synagogue (photo), which was built around 100 AD.
The Jordan is one of the most famous rivers in the world. The small creek originates in the Golan Heights and arises from the confluence of two smaller rivers in the village of Sde Nehemia, around 30 kilometers north of the Sea of Galilee. The Jordan flows into the north of the lake and leaves it at Degania in the south. It flows through the Jordan Valley and forms the border between Israel and Jordan. The Jordan flows into the Dead Sea about 105 kilometers south of the Sea of Galilee. At the lowest point on earth there is no drain, the water of the Jordan evaporates and forms an extremely salty lake.
The Yardenit baptism site is located shortly after the Jordan left the Sea of Galilee heading south. The baptism site is in a shallow bend in the river. Yardenit is a large baptismal center with changing rooms and shops. Metal fences in the water prevent non-swimmers from disappearing in the Jordan. Baptists from the USA in particular are baptized here in large groups.
Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist. However, not in Yardenit but in al-Maghtas, in today's Jordan.
Belvoir Castle was built by the Order of St. John around 1180 to control the important Jordan Valley. The castle is located on a hill that dominates the Jordan by 540 m. From Belvoir you can overlook the Sea of Galilee and about 30 kilometers of the Jordan Valley. Belvoir was an important post to defend the Kingdom of Jerusalem. After the Battle of Hattin in 1187, the crusader army had to surrender. Saladin had crushed the Christians at Tiberias with a superior force and conquered Jerusalem in the same year. Belvoir Castle was abandoned and destroyed by Saladin so that the Crusaders could not use it again. Nevertheless, Belvoir is the best preserved crusader castle in Israel.
Bet Shean or Beit She'an is the largest and most interesting archaeological site in Galilee. There was a Bronze Age settlement of the Canaanites on the settlement hill. Bet Shean came under the influence of Egypt in 1450 BC. From 1,000 BC the place belonged to the Kingdom of Israel. In 732 BC the settlement hill was conquered and destroyed by the Assyrians. The place was most likely left afterwards.
Around 60 BC the Romans founded a new city at the foot of the hill. Most of the ruins in the archaeological park date from this period. The amphitheater and many columns are well preserved. After the conquest by Muslim fighters in 636, the city was destroyed again. Only a few people lived here when the crusaders took Bet Shean in 1099. The crusaders fortified the town. After the conquest by Saladin in 1183, the historic town of Bet Shean was abandoned.