Sea of Galilee
In Hebrew Kineret

The Sea of Galilee is one of the most beautiful sites in Israel

It is known by many names. In Hebrew is called Lake Kineret due to its form as a harp. It is also called Lake of Gennesaret and Sea of Tiberias.

It is located in northern Israel in the area called Galil or the Galilee in English. It is near the Golan Heights and the Hula Valley. It is approximately 22 Km or 14 miles long by 14 Km of 8 miles wide.

The total area of the lake is 166 km². It is 212 meters below sea level and considered to be the lowest fresh water lake on Earth. The Dead Sea is the lowest point in the world but it is a salt water lake,

The Kineret is located on the Syria African rift, a valley caused by the separation of the Arabian and African plates. The area has experienced volcanic activities and earthquakes during centuries.

View of the Sea of Galilee from the fields surrounding it

The Cradle of Christianism

The Sea of Galilee has been in the center of Christianity for two thousand years. Many important sites to Judaism and Christianity surround the lake:

  • The Mount of Beatitudes
    Looking down to the lake from where Jesus preached the Sermon of the Mount. You may imagine the disciples seated on the slopes of the mount while they hear the Teacher speak.

  • Capernaum
    It is called Kfar Nahum in Hebrew is known as the home of some of Jesus’ disciples and the ruins of an ancient Synagogue.

  • Tabgha
    It is believed to be the site where Jesus fed 5,000 followers from five loaves of bread and two fishes. It is called now the Church of Multiplication.

The Church on top of Mount of Beatitudes in Israel

This is where Jesus spent most of his life

  • Migdal
    It is also called Magdala and believed to be the home of Mary Magdalene.

  • Jesus Boat
    Around 1985-86 when the waters of the Kinneret came to a frightening low a fishing boat was discovered on the shores of kibbutz Ginnosar. Archaeologists like famous Israeli Yigal Allon fixed the date of the boat around 100BC to 100 EC.

    This is the reason many called it Jesus Boat because that was the time of his life on Earth. It can be seen today at Yigal Allon Center among many discoveries of the Prehistoric times of the Galilee.

  • Yardenit
    The Baptism area is located south of Tiberias where the Jordan River exits from the Sea of Galilee. Many Christians come here to commemorate Jesus of Nazareth’s Baptism and go into the waters to be sprinkled with Holy Water of the Jordan.

    The open amphitheater is used for worshiping and a very nice gift shop will be waiting for you full of souvenirs of the area.

  • The ancient city of Tiberias
    The city of Tiberias lies on the western shore of the lake. It was named after Emperor Tiberius in 20 BC. It is an ancient city that has kept its small town feeling. It hosts most of the hotels in the area and it is full all year round with pilgrims and locals alike.

    It looks peaceful and quiet during the day and in the evening it shows an active nightlife of bars and restaurants, dinners on boats and many souvenirs stores appealing to all tourists.

The site of the tomb of Rabbi Meir in Tiberias near the shore

Beaches around the Lake

The beaches that surround the lake in its whole circumference are varied in their style. Some have white sand and some rocks; some are wide and some are narrow.

But no matter which one of them, they attract tourists and locals alike year round. You should see the Kinereth on a holiday like Passover. If you drop a pin it will fall on somebody’s head.

From these shores one can take many nature excursions bordering the lake and climbing to the Golan Heights or following the Jordan River upstream all the way to:

  • Banias
    Magnificent fresh water spring where the Jordan River is born,
  • Bethsaida nature reserve
    Located northeast of the Sea of Galilee, it features natural streams and pools flooded by the waters of the Jordan River.

With this spectacular view Jesus preached the "Sermon of the Mountain"

The Kineret is a favorite spot for Israeli Vacationers

  • Khamat Gader
    It lies on the Eastern shore near Syria and Jordan and it is part of the Roman ruins of one of the ten Decapolis. The main ruins are in Jordan of today in the area of Jerash.

    The springs of Khamat Gader are the hottest in the area. The waters are so hot, around 51°C, the in Hebrew it was called Maayan Hagehenom (Hell’s spring) and in Arab Ayin Magla (Frying Spring)
  • Mount Arbel National Park
    It is located on the northwest of the lake and features good hiking and climbing

  • Nakhal Amud
    This is a stream that flows from Mount Meron directly into the lake. The whole trail of the stream is a nature reserve with beautiful flowers in the spring months. Ideal for hiking.

  • Kibbutz Degania
    The first Kibbutz founded in 1910 was Degania Aleph is located on the south of the lake there the Jordan River continues its course going south towards the desert and finally the Dead Sea.

The Sea of Galilee is the main provider of fresh water to the whole country, therefore during winter everybody in the country prays for rains and the counting of millimeters of rain on a daily basis is common practice. The Kineret is a national symbol.

Image Credits:
kineret from tiberias by jfreeman
beatitudes church by jawcey
tomb of rabbi meir by tiberias municipality
view from beatitudes by guggamij
hamat gader n/a

All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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