To make sure your travel will be as comfortable as possible, you will be picked up directly from the airport, from your hotel or from any other point you will decide on.
Then we’ll begin our first day together with a visit to Jaffa, the ancient port city where Saint Peter had his vision on the rooftop of Simon the tanner’s house (as recounted in Acts 10:32) and raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36). This is also where Jonah set sail from on his way to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) and King Solomon built his port (2 Chron. 2:16) on the Mediterranean Sea.
Then we’ll continue to the Ayalon institute, where the underground Jewish forces used to produce bullets right under the noses of the British soldiers in the days before the State of Israel was established.
In the youthful and vibrant city of Tel Aviv, we will be visiting the picturesque area of Rotschild Boulevard, historical neighborhood of Neve Zedeq and the iconic Rabin square.
Overnight: Tel Aviv.
Starting our day with a view of Beit Shemesh, the town to which the Ark of the Covenant was taken after it was high jacked by the Philistines, will set the tone of our continued travel. Following this majestic panorama, we have planned an exciting trip on ATV (all-terrains vehicle) in the Judea Mountains, a mountainous ring which also encompasses the Eternal City of Jerusalem. We’ll continue on our way through the Valley of Elah, remembered by many as the site where the biblical fight between David, before he was king, and the giant Goliath took place.
After a refreshing and satisfying lunch, we will be participating in archaeological excavation seminars in the caves of the Beit Govrin and Maresha National Park, coves which once lay underneath Hellenistic residencies.
Overnight: Tel Aviv.
As we leave Tel Aviv on this morning with our luggage, we will not part from the gorgeously bucking Mediterranean coast, making our way to Caesarea, where we will observe the magnificent ruins of King Herod’s showcase port city, carry on the story of Saint Peter as we recount his conversion of Cornelius’ household (covered in Acts 10:24). Caesarea was also the scene of Saint Paul’s imprisonment (as told in Acts 23:35), his appearance before King Agrippa and his departure for Rome (Acts 25:13-26:32). Unsurprisingly, this once great city figures centrally in the history of early Christianity as home to the Church patriarch Eusebius.
From there we will be northbound en route to the modern Israeli port city of Haifa. Overlooking a breathtaking view of a dazzling bay, we will visit the Carmelite Monastery of Mukhraka, where the prophet Elijah called down a fire from Heaven (1 Kings 18:19-39). After performing this miracle, a great drought ended with the appearance of a small cloud over the sea (1 Kings 18:44), believed to have been a pre-figuring of Saint Mary.
A third northern city awaits us in the form of Acre, which was once known as Ptolemais back when Saint Paul visited it (Acts 21:7). It was a true gem of the medieval world and we will have an opportunity to discover this through what remains of its Knights Halls, the ancient fishermen’s port, Turkish Bath Museum, the oriental bazaar and the ramparts overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Retracing our steps, this day will be dedicated to a visit of Haifa with its extraordinary Baha’i hanged gardens from the top of the Carmel Mount, an exceptional combination of natural beauty and human design bringing out the best each has to offer.
Continuing on our way to Tel Megiddo, we will get to explore this incredibly important, as well as the biggest archeological hill in Israel, the place which gave birth to the biblical term we all know as Armageddon.
This is also believed to be the site where the final battle at the end of time will take place. The excavations here will offer us a look at the ramparts, temples, dwellings and a unique water system which made it one of the greatest cities of the ancient Middle East. This early glory explains how Megiddo later came to be a regional capital under King Solomon (1 Kings 9:15). Due to its importance throughout so many different ages, it then likely comes as no surprise that it also lends itself to be the scene of the Armageddon as depicted in the New Testament (Rev. 16:16).
A suitable follow-up from this biblical stop would then be the city of Nazareth, whose current day beautiful churches now grace Jesus’ boyhood home, including the Church of Saint Joseph and the jewel in the crown, the Basilica of the Annunciation, with its magnificent representations of Saint Mary from around the world.
Found on the outskirts of Nazareth, our next station of Caper Cana is the site where Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine (John 2:1-11), perpetuated through the Wedding Church and the Church of Nathanael (John 21:2).
We will conclude our day at the Sea of Galilee.
Overnight at the Sea of Galilee.
We’ll resume our scheduled tour by taking a boat-ride across the Sea of Galilee in a wooden vessel reminiscent of Jesus’ day. Aptly, this inspiring and pleasant crossing of the lake will lead us to a view of the Ancient Galilee Boat, a wooden vessel dating back to the days of Jesus in a fascinating display of how he must have crossed the Kinneret himself two thousand years ago.
Traveling up the trail crossing Mount Tabor, we will next behold the Mount of Beatitudes, where a lovely chapel commemorates Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which took place here (Matt. 5). Appropriately, this was also one of many meaningful sites where Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II prayed.
The Tabha Benedictine Monastery is another place of import on our way through this northern region of Israel, aptly referred to by some as ‘Jesus-land’. It is where the miracle of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes had happened, the feeding of the five thousand (Matt. 14:13-21).
Our path will next take us to the Church of the Primacy of Peter, scene of the miraculous capture of fish (John 21:6), where Jesus appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection (John 21:7) and where Saint Peter’s reconciliation to Jesus (John 21:15-19) had taken place.
The ancient Jewish village of Capernaum draws its significance from the fact that it was where so many miracles and teachings had played out and due to its New Testament appearances, it is also known as Jesus’ ‘own town’ (Matt. 9:1). The structures reflecting this are quite abundant and they include the House of Saint Peter (Mark 1:29), the Memorial of Saint Peter and the Ancient Synagogue, a remnant still pointing us to the spot where Jesus had preached (Mark 1:21).
Finishing off our day in Tiberias, we will point out its link to every site we’ve visited today, as this city was built by Herod Antipas (Luke 13:31) during Jesus’ ministry and nowadays serves as the contemporary capital of the Sea of Galilee zone, with many reminders of biblical days.
Overnight at the Sea of Galilee.
This day will be dedicated to the enchanting area of the Golan Heights, a true gem in the nature crown of Israel’s outdoors, yet sadly underexplored by many tours.
We will start our day at Tel Dan, the town whose name perpetuates its past, as it was conquered by the tribe of Dan after a long fight against the Philistines. Later on, it was also the place where the Israelite King Jeroboam decided to build his capital and one of his temples. The bountiful stream which runs through this reservation is the main source of water to the Sea of Galilee, allowing us a chance to more fully enjoy the nature here, God’s greatest gift.
From Tel Dan we will continue to the stream known as Caesarea Philippi (or Banias), where Saint Peter was granted the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, years after the site was dedicated to Pan, the pagan lord of shepherds through a temple which was standing here and where Agrippa the Second built his palace. In addition to all of these points of interest, there’s also the amazing nature park reserve that we have here.
Afterwards, we will have lunch at the excellent restaurant of Dag al Hadan or at one of the many Druze villages that we will pass through on the Golan Heights, granting us an opportunity to learn more about the Druze culture and way of life while looking out at Mount Hermon and the Nimrod Castle.
Arriving at Mount Bental will give us an exquisite panoramic view of the Valley of Tears and Syria, so it will be here that we will try to delve deeper into the hardest war that Israel had ever had, the notorious Yom Kippur War.
Overnight at the Sea of Galilee.
Driving down from the Sea of Galilee, we will be visiting Beit Shean, where we will wander the ancient city streets, taking in the amazing columns which were toppled over in the great earthquake of 749 AD, the impressive theater which has been brought back into use, the bathhouse, which has been reconstructed to show visitors the pastimes of bygone days and which later on contained a baptistery and lastly, the churches which once graced the suburbs of this one-time Decapolis capital. The fertile surrounding countryside, from Gilad to Jezreel and Gilboa, is still worthy of the ancient epithet which crowned this area ‘the gateway to the Garden of Eden’.
We will continue by driving along Mount Gilboa, which is part of the lower Galilee’s eastern passageway between the Jezreel Valley, Israel’s breadbasket, and the famous Jordan Valley. One of the Galilee’s most scenic regions, this 500 meter high ridge is also the site where King Saul and his sons Jonathan, Abinadav and Malkishua had been slain while fighting the Philistines (I Sam 31:2-7). Their story is commemorated in the names of communities and peaks along this 18 kilometer long mountainous stretch.
Our next station will be the Beit Alpha synagogue. Particularly famed for its stunning mosaic floor, this site was fully discovered during the paving of a road for the people of this kibbutz. We’ll enjoy an audio-visual performance capturing the period when the synagogue was being built and helping us to observe the different mosaic composing styles. Another new comprehension we’ll gain thanks to it will be regarding how daily life was being led back in the old days.
At Gan Ha’Shlosha (also known as the ‘Sachne’, the Garden of Three) we will spend a wonderfully relaxing afternoon bathing in one of the most celebrated natural spring spas in Israel. Its waters run at a fixed temperature of 28 Celsius degrees and the garden itself has been dubbed one of the ten most beautiful gardens in the world by Times magazine.
Overnight: in Jerusalem.
On this morning, as we enter Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives will provide us with a magnificent vantage point of the Holy City, with many important churches visible as they mark biblical events of importance in the landscape before us.
We will make our way by foot to the Garden of Gethsemane. Standing with its ancient olive trees where Jesus was arrested (John 18:1-12), right next to it is the Church of All Nations, so named for the contributions made by Catholics from around the entire world. The church overlooks the Kidron Valley (John 18:1) and is also known as the Basilica of the Agony, as it was here that Jesus sweated blood in fervent prayer (Luke 22:44).
Not too far from it lies Mount Zion, an exceptional study in how one spot can concurrently house three different religions. We will choose to concentrate our attentions on the Coenaculum, more commonly known as The Room of the Last Supper, preserving to this day the site where Jesus and the disciples celebrated the first Eucharist (Mark 14:24), on the Dormition Abbey, signaling that this was where Mary was taken up to Heaven (the Dormition of Mary) and on the Tomb of King David.
On our second part of the day we will pay a visit to the city of Bethlehem and its renowned Church of Nativity. Please note that for this trip, your passports will be needed.
Overnight: in Jerusalem.
From here we will continue to Masada, the incredible mountain fortress that King Herod the Great built two thousand years ago. On our way there, we will pass through the Qumran caves, the area where the intriguing, world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls had been found.
We will ascend to the top of Masada by means of a cable car (or by walking, if time permits) and tour this mountainous fort, where the zealots of the first century AD made their last stand against the Roman Empire. We’ll make sure not to miss out on any of the fascinating remains, which include the walls, palaces, synagogue, water cisterns, mosaic floors, Herod’s private Roman bath and the findings contained within.
After launch, we’ll balance out our time in this region by having a wonderfully relaxing time at the Dead Sea beach and spa. We will get to enjoy this unique opportunity of floating on the waters of the world’s saltiest lake and take advantage of their outstanding therapeutic effects.
Overnight: in Jerusalem.
This day will be focused on the Old City of Jerusalem, offering us what many consider to be the crème de la crème of any travel through the Land of Israel. Inspecting its four different quarters, the Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian ones will help us gain a fuller appreciation of this historic area’s diversity.
Our first station here will be situated at the heart of the Jewish Quarter – the Western Wall, the most sacred Jewish site in the entire world. It is the last remain from the Second Temple Period and a treasure for all mankind. Anyone and everyone can benefit from a hands-on experience at this revered site. Those who wish can inscribe a personal note to be placed in one of the cracks in the wall, recite an emotional prayer or simply admire this magnificent edifice which has been standing firmly here for over two thousand years.
Passing on to the Muslim Quarter, we will be following the path of the Via Dolorosa. On these narrow and ancient streets, we will be walking the same ‘Path of Agony’ that Jesus suffered on as he made his way to the crucifixion. We will stop at most of the stations, including the final five within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
For many people, our visit at the Church will be the climax of our time in Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is of matchless significance, considered by many to be the holiest place in the world for Christians. This is the place where, according to most denominations’ belief, the crucifixion and burial of Jesus had taken place. This is also where 1700 years ago Saint Helena found the Cross of the Crucifixion. Nowadays, one can visit the Golgotha, as well as the Holy Sepulchre, the Tomb of Jesus, and the aforementioned five last stations of the Via Dolorosa in addition to many more sights to behold here.
Alternatively, we can pay a visit to the Garden Tomb. Located 500 meters to the north of the gorgeous Damascus Gate, this ancient cemetery, which was discovered approximately 130 years ago by the British General Charles Gordon, has become a moving site in which followers of the Christian faith can reflect on the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, as well as spend time in the peaceful garden surroundings in prayer, song, fellowship and communion.
Walking along the Christian Quarter alleys, we will turn back to the Jewish part and by simply crossing this area, we’ll be transferred from one historic level to another. This can most keenly be experienced at the Cardo with its Roman and Jewish parts. It was the Fifth Avenue of of Jerusalem during ancient times and its modern counterpart is a lively and colorful center for shopping today.
If time will permit it, we will seal your tour in this country by paying a visit to the Israel Museum, one of the ten biggest museums in the world and home to both the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed, and a three-dimensional model of Jerusalem as it was during the time of the Second Temple and Jesus.