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April 14, 2013April 14, 2013  0 comments  Geography

When following in the footsteps of Jesus most Christian pilgrims will, at some point during their Holy Land tour, find their away onto a Holy Land Sailing boat going across the Sea of Galilee, taking in the numerous holy and historical sites that are situated along waters edge. And some groups may make their way to the Yigal Alon museum to view the historic first centery "Jesus Boat" that was exposed several years ago in very shallow waters of Lake Galilee.

But what most people don't know and what marine archaeologists have yet to understand is that lying 8 or 9 meters underneath the surface in the southwest corner of the Sea of Galilee lies an impressive rock structure weighing close to 60000 tons, in the shape of a perfect circle.

Shmulik Marco, a senior researcher in the Geophysics Department of Tel Aviv University, made the discovery in 2003 using a sonar. The discovery was recently published in the "|International Journal of Nautical Archaeology" It is believed that the structure was put together on dry land and later submerged in rising waters. The stones are about a meter long and the overall size is close to 60 meters in diameter and 10 meters high.

So far there has not been a dig carried out at the site, however, archaeologists believe it is an early Bronze Age structure and that it may be connected to the nearby ancient city of Beit Yerah but are far from certain. Other similar monuments in the region incude Khirbet B'tiha at the north of the lake and Rujm al-Hiri (also known as Gilgal Refa'im) in the Golan Heights. Rujm al-Hiri is situated northeast of the Sea of Galilee and consists of about 42,000 basalt rock formations, also place in several concentric circles, and possibly used as an ancient calendar.




Photo of Rujm al-Hiri is courtesy of Wikipedia.



Tags: sea of galilee 

September 12, 2009September 12, 2009  0 comments  Biblical Archaeology

An ancient synagogue dating from the Second Temple period (50 BCE-100 CE) housing the first ever menorah decoration ever found from that period was exposed in archaeological excavations at Migdal, known as Migdala, on the Sea of Galilee just north of Tiberias. The Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting excavations at the site, which is slated for development of a Christian-oriented resort hotel and multi-media center dedicated to dialogue and understanding.



Within the discovered the synagague there is a stone that is engraved with a seven-branched menorah (candelabrum), in the middle. It is the first time this type of discovery has ever been made. Up until now there had never been a seven branch menorah engraving discovered within a Jewish context. Archaeologists Dina Avshalom-Gorni and Arfan Najar of the Israel Antiquities Authority are conducting the excavations.  The main hall of synagogue is c. 120 square meters in area and its stone benches, which served as seats for the worshippers, were built up against the walls of the hall. Its floor was made of mosaic and its walls were treated with colored plaster (frescos). A square stone, the top and four sides of which are adorned with reliefs, was discovered in the hall. The stone is engraved with a seven-branched menorah set atop a pedestal with a triangular base, which is flanked on either side by an amphora (jars). The engraving that appears on the stone that was uncovered joins only six other synagagues in the word that are known to date to the Second Temple period", said Dina Avshalom-Gorni, the director of the Isrsael Antiquities Authority.



The site is owned by Ark New Gate, which intends to build a unique hotel property and multi-media center that is envisioned as a center of dialogue and respect between cultures and religions. Migdal has long been a very important site to Christians and the nearby historical site is managed by the Franscicans. Christian history recognizes Migdal as mentioned as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. the city was strategically important during the Greate Revolt as well and the base of operation of Yosef Ben Matityahu (Josephus Flavius). AFter the revolt, Migdal became the administrative center of the Galilee lasting until 19CE, when nearby Tiberias was founded and became an important city.

June 23, 2015June 23, 2015  0 comments  Events

One of the holiest Catholic shrines in Israel, Tabgha, situated on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, was the unfortunate site of a destructive fire, which broke out last week in several places inside the church, causing the roof to collapse. Firefighters doused the fire and treated two people for minor smoke inhalation. The fire is being considered a nationalist crime that was set deliberately. Hebrew graffiti from a Jewish prayer the mentions the elimination of idol worship was painted in rep paint on a wall just outside the church.



The mosaic inside the floor at the Church


Christians believe that Tabgha is the site where Jesus performed the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes. The site is an extremely popular pilgrimage site to many of the 2.3 million Christians who travel to the Holy Land annually. According to Father Gregory Collins who iis the head of the Benedictine Order that runs the church, approximately 5,000 Christians visit the site daily.


Tabgha seaside area

Seaside at Tabgha photo courtesy Travelujah-Holy Land tours


A fifth century mosaic floor including one depicting two fish flanking a basket of bread loaves is depicted within the mosaic that was uncovered in the floor of the church. In addition to visiting the actual church on the premises, many Christians take time to walk down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee to touch the waters and to enjoy time for prayer and meditation beneath the shade of the outdoor chapel area.

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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian travel network focused on connecting Christians to Israel. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

July 24, 2012July 24, 2012  0 comments  Holy Sites

According to the tradition, the idyllic hillside of Mount of Beatitudes in the Galilee was the place where Jesus Christ gave a special teaching to His disciples and other gathered believers: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain; and when he was set, his disciples come unto him. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven…’” (Matt. 5:3) In total, the sermon consisted of 9 blessings gratifying humble and merciful behavior.


While climbing the hill, a pleasant wind from the Sea of Galilee was cooling our arms and faces. And when we reached the top of the mount, the seashore view and the red-flowered trees captured our attention. The contrast of the vivid colors and the black basalt stone created a great visual composition.


Mount of Beatitudes Red Flowers Travelujah


And just behind the corner, on the site of Jesus’ teachings, hidden among a beautiful tree garden, we saw a domed chapel; built from the basalt stone in 1937 A.D. The Roman Catholic Church was designed by the famous architect, Antonio Barluzzi, whose designs can be found in almost every corner of the Holy Land.


We had time for a short visit inside the chapel, since the Franciscan Sisters who care for the site, were closing for a midday break. The focal points of the interior are a small altar and windows of the church inscribed with the opening words of the beatitudes “blessed are” in the Latin language.


We were accompanied by a priest and therefore were able to hold a short mass in the chapel’s garden. During the ceremony, we read the biblical beatitudes of Jesus and prayed for blessings for the people who struggle in their lives, and we thanked God for the possibility of being in this holy place on the Mt. of Beatitudes.


Mount of Beatitudes Prayer Travelujah


We decided to stay a bit longer in the area to admire the lovely view of the Sea of Galilee and enjoy the serenity of he place. Also, close to the parking spot on the mount is a neat café-bar selling cold and warm beverages and ice creams. Cold orange juice was a good idea!

Church Opening Hours:


  • April – September: daily at 8 am – 12 am and 2:30 pm – 5pm;
  • October – March: daily at 8 am – 12 am and 2:30 pm – 4pm;




Call the Fr. Sisters of Mt. of Beatitudes:  00972 (0) 4 – 679 - 0978


Getting there:


There is no public transportation to the Mt. of Beatitudes, though there is a bus that will let you out on Highway 90, about a 15 minute walk to the site. Our group arrived with a private driver. The parking costs 5 NIS per vehicle. Groups seeking to visit the site can come with on a pre-arranged bus tour. Other individuals and private groups can include the Mt. of Beatitudes in a private tour with a private guide and vehicle.  If you are looking for a more complex tour in the whole Galilee region – click here.

One day tours to the Galilee including the Mt. of Beatitudes departing Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are available as well.




Did you know that the Mount of Beatitudes offers a spacious hospice managed by the Franciscan Sisters? The guesthouse primarily services the needs of pilgrim groups however, there are times when rooms can be rented out to independent tours as well.  For more information, click here.


Surrounding sites:




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Beata M. Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.


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