Located in Israel's north, the Galilee region is most commonly associated with, on the one hand, mountainous scenery and a luscious landscape and, on the other hand, the famous Sea of Galilee. But the area has many more hidden treasures to offer, from historic monuments to excellent observation posts.
Galilee - A Secret Christian Community
Most notably, the Galilee region was Jesus' home, his place of teaching and the sight of many of his miracle works. Its relation to the life of Christ has made the region home to numerous churches and monasteries. In addition, several Arab-Christian villages call this area home. Located in and around the city of Nazareth(some 15 miles from the Sea of Galilee), towns such as Fassuta , Milya, Jesh and Ilabun demonstrate a unique breed of Christianity with an oriental flavor, well worth a visit when on a Holy Land tour.
Galilee - Berenice Mountain and the Anchor Church
Situated just south of Tiberias, Berenice Mountain was named after one of the Roman Emperor Titus' lovers, infamous for having buried over 10 husbands.
With Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee at its feet and the Golan Heights only a few miles away, the view from atop Mount Berenice is exquisite. Added to the breathtaking view, visitors will find here the ruins of a Byzantine church, uncovered in the 1990s and featuring unusual cultic ornamentation. Though most likely not its original name, the church has been dubbed the AnchorChurch and has been known by this name since it's unearthing.
When the Muslims gained control over the city of Tiberias in 1187, the Anchor Church was severely damaged. All that is left of it are the ruins we see today. However, thanks to the church's slight distance from Tiberias and its location atop a mountain, these ruins have remained in tact and did not suffer further destruction over the centuries. The thick basalt walls have also helped to preserve the church's beautiful mosaics which remain, to this day, one of its greatest draws.
Christian tours to Israel don't always make a point of visiting the Anchor Church, but if you have time to spare be sure to spend it here!
Galilee - Nain Village and Jesus' Miracle Work
Located some 4 miles south of Mount Tabor, about halfway between Nazareth and the city of Afula, Nain ( Naim in Hebrew) is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke as one of the towns in Jesus' Ministry.
The scriptures specify that it was in town of Nain that Jesus, while touring the area with his apostles, witnessed the funeral of a child. Hearing the mother weep over the death of her only child, Jesus resurrected the boy and brought him back into his mother's arms.
In the 19 th century the Franciscan Order decided to invest in this village and bought several acres of its land. A church was erected on the land and its maintenance and upkeep placed in the hands of the Arab family that lives next door.
The humble church has remained nameless and generally hidden from the public for many years. However, it remains one of those hidden gems not many know and that are the perfect addition to your Christian tour.
Galilee - YMCA Center
North of Tiberias just off Route 90 is the Tiberias YMCA Center. The building, also known as the Harte Villa, was built for Dr. Archibald Harte—General Secretary of the Jerusalem YMCA association in the 1920's. The villa currently functions as a spa and health club but also features a modest church and a guesthouse. Though not a must-see sight when on a Bible tour to Israel, the YMCA Center's unique blend of Christianity and Middle-Eastern décor is certainly worth a visit.
But the building's main draw and focal point is unquestionably the oversized window carved into one of the church walls. Through the window visitors will discover a magnificent panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes.
Traveling just a short distance north of the YMCA Center you will find the Domus Galileae (House of Galilee). Having only recently opened to the public, Domus Galilee is a church and theology center owned and operated by the Vatican.
The Theology Center's library offers a wide selection of scriptures and liturgical writings and is conveniently open to visitors most hours of the day.