The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth
Our journey begins in the largest church in the Middle East – The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Here, angel Gabriel announced to Mary, mother of Jesus, of the birth of the savior. Your Israel tour guide will take you to the amazing site of Mary’s house (cavern), adjacent to a prayer hall of the first Christians, who were actually Jewish. In the prayer hall you will find a baptism basin which was originally a Mikveh, a Jewish ritual bath.
During the 5th century, a Byzantine church was built in this location, but in was ruined during the Persian Invasion. Later, the Crusaders found the spot and built a large church that was then ruined in 1265 by the Mamluks. The current church located in the place was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Muzio, built by the Israel company of Solel Boneh and was inaugurated in 1969. The design of the church is Italian Brutalism and it is decorated with angel Gabriel and Mary on the façade. Many quotes from the old and new Testaments appear in the church and it is also decorated with the figure of the Madonna from all over the world. The eastern side of the church was dug by archeologists who found dwelling caves implying a poor and simple place.
The Church of the Marriage at Cana village
Your Israel tour guide will now lead you to the Church of the Marriage in Cana village, a must-see site for Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
The key figure in the Christian story of the marriage is Mary. She approaches Jesus and informs him the people have no wine to celebrate a wedding planned for that time. Jesus tells her that he can’t help since it’s not yet his time to practice his powers. Mary, mother of Jesus, approaches the people and commands them to do Jesus’ bidding so that he can prove his abilities. This is where Jesus performed his first miraculous act by turning six jars of water into six jars of wine.
Jesus respects each and every one of the commandments of the Jewish faith and following the commandment of “honor thy father and thy mother” Jesus can’t refuse his mother’s request to perform the miracle.
The Franciscan basilica in this sacred Christian spot was built in 1879. It was built in the style of the Salzburg cathedral and is decorated with two bell tower signifying a bride and a groom. The place is a perfect location to renew your wedding vowels.
The Sea of Galilee
During Jesus’ thirds and last decade of life he lived and acted in the northern area of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, from the village of Migdal to Beit Zida. The Sea of Galilee is a special site in the Christian faith since this is the place where Jesus proved he can control elements of nature. These are the places where Jesus performed miracles over nature, such as calming the storm, healing the sick and the sounded and binging people back from the dead.
The Mount of Beatitudes
The Mount of Beatitudes, including the church built upon it, commemorates the location of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, summing up the main moral faith of Christianity. This sermon, mentioned in the books of Matthew and Luke, is somewhat short and concise. It includes only a few statements told by Jesus to the many surrounding him on the mount. Each statement begins in the words: “Blesses are the…”, and the name of the mountain comes from the Latin word “Beati” which means fortunate or happy.
The church of the sermon is octagonal, symbolizing the 8 beatitudes told be Jesus in this sermon.
Church of the Primacy of St. Peter
In the old days, near this church ran 7 salty springs. Today there are only 5. These springs are stopped before reaching the Sea of Galilee so they will not salt the sweet water of the sea. These salty waters are directed into the Jordan river, emerging from the Sea of Galilee, into the Dead Sea.
The importance of the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter varies between Protestants and Catholics. The New Testament tells the story of Jesus meeting his disciples, who recognize him as the lord. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him, and then asks Peter: “feed my sheep”.
Church of the Multiplication
The Christian belief tells of three times in which Jesus performed miracles of feeding people bread and fish. In these miracles Jesus would miraculously “multiple” 2 fish and 5 loafs of bread into enough food for thousands of people. Tradition says that even the leftovers could have filled 12 baskets of food.
The 4th century saw the build of a small chapel in honor of this miracle, and in the 5th century, an amazingly grand church was built in this place, with splendid mosaic floors. Under the altar lies a black rock. Tradition says this is the rock on which Jesus places the bread and fish, and under this rock lies a famous mosaic of the miracle. The Byzantine church was ruined in the Persian Invasion in 614 AD.
In 1980 an exact copy of the ruined Byzantine church began to be built.
This village is the center of Jesus’ life. This is where he lived in Peter’s house for three years. Here he heals the people, including Peter’s mother-in-law, he also performs exorcism. Here is the center of most of Jesus’ acts, as written in the New Testament. Jesus leaves Capernaum to other location in the northern part of the Sea of Galilee, performs miracles and comes back to the village.
During Jesus’ time this village is the home of 1,500 people, a small but significant fisherman’s village. Jesus’ life here is different than in Nazareth, which was a small and disconnected spot. Here Jesus is located on an international intersection, meeting many people and acting extravagantly. In 1831 Robinson was the first to discover this place as Capernaum. The modern village contains the ruins of an ancient synagogue from the first century, built in stone, and above them ruins of a newer synagogue built with imported limestone, probably in the 4th century.
Yardenit – Baptism on the Jordan River
The Yardenit is a baptism site on the Jordan River, designed for Christian pilgrims on their journey in the holy land. The site is located south to the Jordan River’s spring from the Sea of Galilee. According to Christian tradition, this is where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. After the Six Day War, the place became a barrier or border between Jordan and Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism built the baptism site in 1981 and it attracts many Christians who wish to be baptized where Jesus was.