Kfar Nakhum, on the northern shore of Lake Kineret, is one of Christianity’s holiest and most important sites and is visited by Christian pilgrims from all over the world. Kfar Nakhum played a central part in Jesus’ life, but it was also an important Jewish center, and as such that the remains of synagogues are found side by side with the remains of ancient churches.
The main archeological site at Kfar Nakhum is a synagogue from the fourth century CE, one of the most magnificent ancient synagogues anywhere in Israel. The synagogue had a large prayer sanctuary, a paved courtyard surrounded by pillars, and carved stones. Two of the most fascinating items found at this site are stone carvings of an Ark of the Covenant and a menorah, and two ancient inscriptions. Near the synagogue archeologists found the remains of ancient Kfar Nakhum, including basalt buildings and a system of narrow streets. South of the synagogue the remains of an octagonal church from the Byzantine period were uncovered, and beneath it the remains of a building that Christian tradition identifies as the home of Peter.
Kfar Nakhum also has an exceptionally beautiful Greek Orthodox church, built in 1931. The church building is pure white, with several bright red domes forming its roof. There is also a Catholic church, built on eight pillars above Peter’s house.
The calm of Lake Kineret below, the Golan Mountains above and the general pastoral atmosphere all around have attracted people to Kfar Nakhum throughout the centuries, and it has been an active village for most of its existence. It was originally founded in the Hellenistic period, about 2,200 years ago. In the Roman period (about 2,000 years ago), Kfar Nakhum was a large, well-established town, where Jews lived side by side with Christians. The New Testament describes Kfar Nakhum as the center for Jesus’ activities in the Galilee, after he left Nazareth. From here he embarked on his journeys, and here he returned. This is also where, according to tradition, he performed some of his miracles.
Kfar Nakhum continued to flourish in the Byzantine period (about 1,500 years ago), and was abandoned only after the Moslem conquest, in about 640 CE. All that remained was a fishing village. In 1894 the Franciscan Order received ownership of the site, and has been responsible for most of the excavations there.
Jesus prophesied that Kfar Nakhum and neighboring Korazim would have the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the ruins of these two towns attract many Christian pilgrims, who come to see the fulfillment of the prophesy with their own eyes.