Sea of Galilee & Golen Heights, Israel

Church Mount of Beatitudes Galilee Golen Heights Israel
Church on Mount of Beatitudes
- Galilee Golen Heights Israel
Mount of Beatitudes Sermon of the Mount Israel
Mount of Beatitudes
on Sermon of the Mount - Israel
Mount of Beatitudes Sermon of the Mount Israel
Mensa Christi (Christ's Table)
- Tabgha, Israel
Safed Zefet Galilee Israel
Safed (Zefet) - Galilee Israel
Tiberias Sea of Galilee Israel
Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee - Israel
Abandoned Tank Golen Heights Israel
Abandoned Tank - Golen Heights, Israel
Thousand Year Old Tree Safed Israel
Thousand Year Old Tree - Safed (Zefet), Israel
Woman Child Safed Israel
Woman & Child 
- Safed, Israel
Sea of Galilee & Golen Heights, Israel (5/29-31/2010) – The Sea of Galilee (actually a fresh water lake) is a resort vacation destination, historical place for modern Zionism, and an important pilgrimage site for devout Christians. 

According to Christian tradition, Jesus performed much of his ministry and several of his miracles are said to have occurred around the Sea of Galilee including his walking on water, calming a storm, and his feeding five thousand people multiplying fish and bread in Tabgha. One of Jesus' most famous teaching episodes, the Sermon on the Mount, that included the Lord’s Prayer and the Blessed are phrases, is supposed to have been given on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee (at Mount of Beatitudes – see photos). Jesus recruited four of his apostles from the shores of lake Galilee: Simon, Andrew, John, and James.  

In more recent Israeli history the Sea of Galilee is the place of early Jewish settlements. In 1909 Jewish pioneers built their first cooperative farming village (kibbutz) here that was the cradle of the Kibbutz culture of early Zionism. The Sea of Galilee region provides about 15% of Israel's water supply (extremely important in this very water scarce region). The Israelis have developed the Hula Valley into a major agricultural producing area.

We stayed in Tiberias, the largest town on the Lake Galilee and founded in 20 AD by the son of Herod the Great. Not the prettiest or very well set up for tourism, Tiberias does have a small waterfront promenade and hot springs just south of the town. Driving around Lake Galilee was nice although we must admit that there are much more beautiful lakes in the world (we are spoiled). We did visit the revered Christian sites (see photos) of the Mount of Beatitudes and Tabgha (Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes) and Mensa Christi (Christ’s Table) in the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter).

Neve Ativ Israel
Neve Ativ, Israel
On the way to the Golan Heights, we enjoyed taking a walk back through time in the city of Safed (Tzfat) where traditional Hasidic Jews live in the Safed's older area called the Synagogue Quarter (see photos) near the Artist’s Quarter. Safed is a spiritual center of Israel with many important works of Jewish religious law written here. We also drove by Megiddo (Armageddon) where the Bible’s book of Revelation predicts the last great battle on Earth will be fought when the forces of good triumph over the forces of evil.

Witch's Cauldron and the Milkman Restaurant Israel
Witch's Cauldron & the Milkman Restaurant
Arriving in June, we missed the beautiful spring flowers in the Golen Heights. We did drive through the area of the Tel Dan and Banias Nature Reserves, the cute flowered Alpine-styled mountain ski town of Neve Ativ, and the historic Nimrod’s Fortress (revered by the Israelis). We greatly enjoyed our lunch at the Witch’s Cauldron & the Milkman restaurant. 
Rocket Attack Kiryat Shmona Israel
Rocket Attack in Kiryat Shmona, Israel

Some history... The Golan Heights remains a highly contested land straddling the borders of Syria and Israel. Israel has controlled most of the Golan Heights since the Six Day War in 1967, annexing it in 1981 for security reasons. We stayed in Kiryat Shmona in northern Galilee that recently in 2006 had scores of rockets from Lebanon hit it. Abandoned tanks (see photo) remind you about the recent wars that have taken place here. 

Map of Goan Heights Israel
Map of Golan Heights, Israel
The United Nations, United States, European Union, and United Kingdom among other nations and organizations consider the Golan Heights to be Syrian territory occupied by Israel. A majority of the population here is Druze, an independent people mostly involved in farm work. Kept secret from outsiders, the Druze religion is an offshoot of Islam but very different the major branches (Sunni and Shiite). We visited the Druze villages of Mejdal Shams and Mas'ada. 

Please see our other 7 blog posts about this historical and interesting country:

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