Tiberias is the lowest city at 200 meters below sea level in Israel, and is on the shores of Lake Kinneret also known as the Sea of Galilee. Holy Land Christian visitors discover will discover a lively tourist city with over 30 hotels including luxury hotels, a marina offering boat rides, romantic promenade including many restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream parlors, popular pubs and cafes. In the summer the bazaars are timing with vacation goers, and the sounds of music. It’s recommended that you try the freshwater fish being offered at the restaurants caught right from the lake.
At opposite side of the seawater boardwalk is Tiberia’s famous fish market. The fishing industry is very big in the lake, and dozens of boats do their daily fishing every morning, returning full of fresh fish for sale at the local markets, and for restaurants. Don’t forget to stop by the popular falafel complex nearby the fish market which attracts many hungry tourists and visitors for delicious, hot, and fresh falafel’s. Straight across the falafel stands is a large municipal auditorium for events, celebrations and local concerts which are open to the public.
Offering a royal experience with it’s sounds and scenery from the Renaissance era, is Dona Gracia Museum, which tells us of the story of Gracia Nasi, whom used much of her personal wealth to save many Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, by building a Jewish city in Tiberias. The castle with it’s halls is now a museum, telling this wonderful story.
Not as known as the Dead Sea, yet south of the Old City is Hamat Tiberias National Park, offering unique natural therapeutic springs, with 60 degree Celsius waters, with as much as 100 minerals with unique therapeutic qualities. The site is know for healing capabilities, and has been present for over 2,000. years attracting visitors since Jesus time. The waters from the natural springs feed the Tiberias Springs spa. The spa offers several thermo-mineral pools, luxurious body treatments and unique health treatments as well as the quiet atmosphere and an incredible view of Lake Kinneret.
Tiberias in it’s surroundings has been a focal place in history for thousands of years, offering both a fresh water source, and a good livelihood from the lake, and fertile lands. History has rendered both the Kinneret area and Tiberias itself important to both Christians and Jews alike. Herod founded the city in 17-22 C.E., naming it after his Roman patron, the Emperor Tiberius. In the second through 10th centuries, Tiberias was the biggest Jewish city in the Galilee, the Jewish people's political and religious hub, as well as the center of Jewish spiritual, and artistic creativity.
Jesus Christ began his ministry only 30 C.E. after the cities establishment on the north shores of Lake Kinneret, where he performed many well known miracles including walking on the water of this lake also known as the Sea of Galilee by most Christians. As Christianity grew, many churches were built in and around Tiberias.
Tiberias has been inhabited since its founding and many buildings and ruins from a variety of periods including by Crusaders and the Ottoman Empire are well preserved in this area. Such as Daher El-Amar’s 18th century fortress, a Jewish bath for ritual, the black basalt remnants of the city wall, and the Church of St. Peter. The church stands today on the ruins of a Crusaders Church, with artwork representing the four Gospels under an inscription of Jesus words to Peter "Be shepherd of my flock.” The stained glass windows depict fish and holy figures, while the back courtyard houses a replica of a statue of Peter brought to Tiberias from Rome, Italy in 1833.
Numerous churches were also constructed outside the walls of the Old City. Concerts are sometimes held in the simple basalt Church of Scotland, founded by Dr. David Watt Torrance, also the founder of Tiberias's first hospital. Nearby is the Scots Hotel, serving Christian pilgrims visiting the area.
South of the promenade is a Greek Orthodox Church and monastery, that includes 3 houses of prayer and a wall of religious icons. Also in this area is Mount Berenice offering not only a beautiful view, but the impressive ruins of Anchor Church – named for the heavy anchor found at the center of the stone altar. Even more famous, is the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and where Jesus named his twelve apostles.
South of Tiberias is Yardenit, the site traditionally recognized by Christianity as the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. This site in the Jordan River attracts hundreds of thousands of Christians from around the world who dip in the waters, and for baptisms and prayer, and ministry ceremonies.
Tiberias attracts both Jews and Christians to this magical land of natural beauty, pastoral beaches and a variety of activities in the city, and city and lake surroundings.