Getting Oriented

The Hebrew word gal means "wave," and the Lower Galilee is indeed a hilly country, with deep valleys framed by mountain ridges. Not much more than a creek, the Jordan River cuts through the topography on the eastern border, first draining into the freshwater Sea of Galilee and then flowing south toward the Dead Sea.

The Galilee is the storied land where King Saul lost his life fighting the Philistines; where the Romans built cities such as Beit She'an; where Jesus, who grew up in Nazareth, carried out much of his ministry; and where the Crusaders built and lost a kingdom. The lakeside resort city of Tiberias beckons with its hot springs and history.

  • Jezreel and Jordan Valleys. Crisscrossed by ancient highways that once linked Egypt and Mesopotamia, the scenic Jezreel and Jordan Valleys are studded with major archaeological and historical sites. Megiddo, corrupted in Greek as "Armageddon," is known for a biblical battle and is prophesied to be the site of a future one. Zippori, also called Sepphoris, is a site with Jewish and Christian links. The Roman ruins at Beit She'an evoke the glory of one of the richest cities in the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Nazareth and the Galilee Hills. The once-sleepy town of Nazareth, the site of Jesus's boyhood, has boomed in recent decades to become a regional center. The nearby hills, such as Mount Tabor and Mount Gilboa, are both biblical byways and part of the reforested landscape many find so entrancing.
  • Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. The tranquil Sea of Galilee was the site for much of Jesus's ministry. But you don't have to be a Christian to fall in love with the mystic charm of this harp-shaped lake. A number of historic hotels, inns, ranches, and private villas ring the lake. The hot springs at Tiberias and Hammat Gader have been attracting guests since the time of Augustus Caesar.

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