During a trip around the shores of the Sea of Galilee, visitors encounter stories and explanations about different religious rituals, art and unexplained phenomena.
Trips in the area introduce the visitor to a large number of historical sites, holy places and national parks. This route passes through blessings, curses, miracles and fortunes whose stories pass through the historical periods in the area, combined with age old traditions that appear in the different beliefs of the people that inhabited and still inhabit the region.
“The Wheel of Zodiacs”
Hamat Tiberias is located at the southern exit from Tiberias, near the current day spas. The site was discovered by accident while paving the road from Tiberias to Tzemach in 1920, and archeological digs revealed the remains of ancient bathhouses and a synagogue from the 1st century AD. At the center of the synagogue, a mosaic was discovered, showing the most ancient wheel of zodiacs that was found among mosaic floors in synagogues in Israel. At the corner of the floor is a figure of a woman that symbolizes the four seasons. In other parts of the mosaic are different Jewish symbols. The fact that this place has many therapeutic baths, and that many came there to find a cure for their ailments, also adds to the mystical uniqueness of the place.
Bread to the Hungry and Light to the Blind
On our way from Kursi to Capernaum, we will pass upon two sites: The first is “Tel Adar” (Adar Mound), where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus performed a miracle and fed 4,000 hungry people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. The second site is Bethsaida junction, named after the ancient settlement in which it is believed that three of Jesus’ apostles were born –Peter, his brother Andrew and Philip.
“The Miracle of the loaves and fish”
At the end of the treatise of blessings, we’ll descend using the winding road towards Capernaum junction, and turn east towards Tabgha, home to the magnificent mosaic floor. On the eastern part of the floor there is a picture in memory of the miracle of the loaves and the fish. According to Mathew, Jesus managed to feed 5,000 men using only five loaves of bread and two fish. According to Christian belief, this was also the location where after his death, Jesus appeared before Saint Peter and ordered him to follow in his footsteps, saying: “Herd my sheep”.
The current day church is located on the remains of a Byzantine church. It appears simple and humble to the eye, but the mosaic floors are spectacular, with images of animals and birds from the land of the Nile.
Near the church there is a small cave known as “the Cave of Job”. According to different traditions, this is where Job lived when he came to wash in the spring in the cave. Therefore, many people still believe that the spring has healing properties. Job spring is one of the seven springs that gave the Tabgha valley its name.
Several kilometers east of the church of the loaves and the fish is Capernaum National Park, with the magnificent remains of the ancient synagogue, built in the 6th century AD. Close to the synagogue are the remains of the fishing village where, according to tradition, lived Jesus’ closest apostle – Simon, more commonly known as Peter. The synagogue is located at the center of a wide antiquities site, in which there are the remains of the ancient fishing village. Peter lived here, and Jesus’ walking on the water is also related to this place.
Nearby is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles, renown for the beauty of its white walls and red domes.