We’ll start our tour by heading straight to Jaffa, the picturesque ancient port from which Jonah set sail before being swallowed by the big fish, where King Solomon imported the cedars of Lebanon to in order to build the Temple in Jerusalem and where Peter had his vision at Simon the Tanner’s Home. If time (and will) allow it, we will visit the Ayalon Institute, a clandestine underground bullet factory which was built under the nose of the British regime in the period before the establishment of the State of Israel.
We’ll enjoy an enchanting panoramic look at the neighboring youthful and vivacious city of Tel Aviv from the promenade here before we proceed to take a drive through its streets. We’ll tour the White City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been dubbed ‘the Bauhaus Capital of the World’, preserving the buildings which were constructed in this unique architectural style. Amongst them is the Independence Hall, where David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948.
Sheinkin Street is famous for its fun shopping, dining and the opportunity it provides for people-watching in a vibrant atmosphere, while the open-air Carmel Market for fruits and vegetables is a treat for all five of our senses. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall comes alive with stalls selling handicrafts of every type.
Overnight: the Tel Aviv area.
We’ll head north across the Sharon Plain to the excavations of the ancient city and port at Caesarea National Park. King Herod the Great built it in honor of his patron, Emperor Augustus Caesar, in the mid-first century BC, and later on Pontius Pilate ruled the country from this spot.
Saint Peter’s story, which we began to explore the previous day, will continue for us now as it was here that he had baptized Cornelius the Centurion. It was also from this port that Saint Paul set sail to preach in communities all over the Mediterranean Sea region, only to be later imprisoned for two years within the confines of the very same city prior to appearing here before Felix, Festus and King Agrippa. All these events are reflected in the ruins we’ll tour, including the Roman Theater, the Hippodrome and Herod’s Palace, as well as in mosaics and other remains from the centuries when Caesarea was an important Christian center as reflected in the Crusader walls, moat and gates.
From Caesarea we will continue to the UNESCO world heritage site Tel Megiddo.
Megiddo (also known as Armageddon) is the biggest archeological hill in Israel, and considered to be, by many, the most interesting one of them all.
The palace, the stables, the water system are all from within the last 7000 years.
up on mount Carmel we’ll visit the Muhraka where Elijah fought the falls prophets of the Baal and we’ll enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramic views in Israel
From here we’ll continue to our hotel in Tiberias.
We will start our day with a visit to the city of Nazareth, the city where Jesus had spent his childhood and most of his young adulthood. Here, we will see the Nazareth Village, a full-scale reconstruction of life in this site as it had been during the time of Jesus. This will allow us to get a true sense of what his daily life experiences must have been like.
Saying our goodbyes to this quaint place, we’ll ride across the Galilee Mountains via Caper Cana, the scene of Jesus’ first miracle, that of changing water into wine, and home of Nathanael.
We’ll begin your day at Kibbutz Ginosar, where we’ll take in the magnificent display at the museum of the wooden Galilee Boat, dating back to the time of Jesus. The boat had been discovered, mired in the mud, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We’ll advance in a similar fashion ourselves, taking a boat-ride across the Sea of Galilee, stopping for devotions as the waves lap quietly around the boat, bringing to mind ancient times and the meaningful events that took place here back then.
We’ll land near Capernaum and get to explore the ruins of this village, often referred to as ‘the hometown of Jesus’, with its synagogue, its church marking the home of Saint Peter, and other dwellings which have survived in this spot since the time of Jesus. Next on our route will be site of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabha, with its famed ancient mosaic depicting the two fishes and the five loaves that Jesus had multiplied. To the north lies the Mount of Beatitudes, the place where Jesus delivered his iconic Sermon on the Mount to the multitudes that stood below, with a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee spread out in front of him.
Next we’ll visit in the recent discovered town of Magdala (the town of Mary Magdalen). Here we’ll visit in the 2000 years old synagogue, the mention of the reach and the streets that Mary Magdalen and even Jesus have probably walked through.
Overnight at the Sea of Galilee.
Many tours tend to neglect the amazing Golan Heights, due to an unfortunate lack of time, although it is one of the most incredible areas in Israel, rich in both history and greenery.
Our day will start at Tel Dan, and archeological site preserving the town Laish, which existed here since the biblical days of Abraham and which was later conquered by the tribe of Dan after a long and arduous fight against the Philistines.
It later becomes the city that King Jeroboam decided to turn into the capital of his northern Kingdom of Israel, building there a temple for the Israelites to worship at.
The most important archeological inscribing in Israel was found here and this is also the site of the second most ancient Canaanites gate in the world.
The nature reserve here protects the Dan stream, which is also the main source of water to the Sea of Galilee, providing about 50% of the waters of the upper Jordan River and allowing us to more fully enjoy nature – God’s greatest gift. This gives the opportunity to follow many, different hike routes involving water and it’s even possible to take a dip in a nice, small pond.
From Tel Dan we will continue to the stream known as Caesarea Philippi (or the Banias), where Saint Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Before that, the place was dedicated to Pan, the Greek Lord of shepherds, through a temple that was standing here. It is also where Agrippa the Second chose to build his palace. Yet all this amazing history will feel like just an added bonus when you find yourself in the lush and fantastic nature park reserve that we have here. Though not the biggest of stream, it nurtures the unbelievably green zone around it and there we’ll see its spectacular falls and the hanging bridge which was built across it.
After having lunch at the outstanding restaurant of Dag Al Hadan we will pass through several Druze villages built on the Golan Heights and visit one, learning more about their intriguing culture and way of life as we also get to enjoy the sight of Mount Hermon and the Nimrod Castle.
Arriving at mount Bental will provide us with a panoramic view of the Valley of Tears and Syria. From this viewpoint, we will observe the 1967 ceasefire line and try to comprehend the wars Israel has had to wage, including the most difficult one of all, the Yom Kippur War, delve into the reasons for our being here and finally, touch upon the importance of the Golan Heights being Israeli.
If time allows it, we will have a terrific opportunity in Kazrin, the only city in the Golan and therefore its official ‘capital’, to visit the Golan Heights Winery, the finest in Israel, where we will discover this unusual branch of agriculture which was actually one of the very first to be developed by Jewish settlers in this land.
By leaving the border with Syria, we’ll start heading back to our hotel.
Overnight at the Sea of Galilee.
Before we leave the Sea of Galilee region on this day, we’ll make sure to make an inspiring visit to Yardenit, the baptismal site located on the banks of the Jordan River (if you like to get baptized please let me know before so we will be able to prepare ourselves) and at the southern tip of the Kinneret. We’ll turn south and drive along the Jordan Valley as we approach our next destination, which is the ancient city of Beit She’an. On the walls of this once-powerful capital of the Decapolis which controlled the gateway to the land of Israel, the Philistines once hung the bodies of King Saul and his three sons, whom they had defeated in battle on the nearby Mount Gilboa.
We’ll move down the Jordan Valley, sighting the city of Jericho, the most ancient one in the world, and the Mountains of Ammon and Moab in Jordan as we’ll ascend through the Judean Desert to the Holy City of Jerusalem. We’ll have our first encounter with the eternal city through a moving first view of both the Old and the New City and the Temple Mount from Mount Scopus. We’ll make a point to open our Bibles and read the beautiful verse of transcendence at the gates of the city: “Our feet were standing at your gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalms 122:2) along with other quotes from the book of Psalms about this ascent.
We’ll welcome the day with one of the most magnificent views possible in this world: ancient Jerusalem as seen from the top of the Mount of Olives. from here we will continue down to the Garden of Gethsemane, which is found at the base of the mountain, we will be able to spend a short while pondering and praying over the time Jesus spent here with his disciples before his arrest. Entering the Old City via the Lions Gate, also known as Saint Stephen’s Gate, we’ll proceed to the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a paralytic (John 5: 2-9). Christians who arrive here in groups often times find they enjoy raising their voices in song at the next door Church of Saint Anne. Walking up through the Old City streets, we’ll then make our way to the point where the Via Dolorosa starts, the path of Sorrows walked by Jesus Christ. Tradition says that this is the path down which Jesus went as he carried the cross to Calvary. Today, it passes through the exotic and colorful Old City markets and leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This Christian shrine is venerated by both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox worlds as the place of crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Next we will enter the Jewish Quarter and walk along what is a particularly enlightening structure regarding life in this city during Roman times, the Cardo. We’ll see both the ancient Roman part, which was the center of commercial life back in the day, and its modern Jewish counterpart. The climax of this part of the tour is the Western Wall (also known as the Kotel or the Wailing Wall), unquestionably the holiest and most cherished Jewish site in the entire world. After gaining an appreciation of the last remnant from the period of the second Holy Temple and its importance to the Jewish people, we’ll have some free time for prayer and for placing personal notes between the 2000 year old stones. If time permits, we will also stop by one of the following: The Western Wall Tunnels (pre-booking is required), which will shuttle us back in time to that era of antiquity by allowing us to walk the streets from two thousand years ago, built on the very feet of the Temple Mount.
On our second part of the day we will visit the birth city of Jesus Christ and King David, Bethlehem, awaits us for the second part of our day. Here, we’ll visit the Church of Nativity, the ground upon which Jesus was born. We’ll also have a chance to see the Star of Bethlehem and to glance at the Shepherd’s Field. After a full day of spiritual sites, we’ll make our way back to your hotel.
In the afternoon you’ll be able to visit the downtown Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda and Nachalat Shiva pedestrian malls, where we can meet Jerusalemites over a cup of coffee or a local dish at a cafe or restaurant, stroll the open-air fruit and vegetable market Machane Yehuda or simply enjoy the full circle of time which we have been exploring together come to a closure in this modern part of the city still so firmly attached to its history.
We’ll head east out of Jerusalem through the Judean Desert to visit Qumran, where the famed Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Modern scholarship places a community of Essenes at this site and it is also believed nowadays that John the Baptist spent some time with this community here. We’ll progress along the shore of the Dead Sea to the oasis of Ein Gedi, where the biblical king David, before he was crowned, hid from his predecessor King Saul.
If you would like to, we’ll have the possibility of hiking to a desert waterfall found nearby. In the afternoon, we will be taking the cable-car to the top of Mount Masada, scene of the epic last stand taken by Jewish rebels at the end of the great revolt against the Roman Empire almost 2000 years ago. To conclude our day, we’ll enjoy a healthful and relaxing dip in the Dead Sea, which is not only the lowest point on Earth, but also the saltiest body of water in the world. This combination has created nature’s most enticing open-air spa and we’ll take full advantage of this great gift before returning to Jerusalem.
On our way back we will also stop for a camel ride.
After taking a shower, around 6 pm, taking a taxi to the Wailing Wall to observe the Shabbat celebrations.
We’ll start our last day together with a visit of Mount Zion. we’ll be able to inspect the Room of the Last Supper where Jesus was having his last meal with the disciples. found in the very same building as the Tomb of King David, where we will also have the opportunity to stop and pay our respects.
Next we will visit 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.
The Israel Museum, which houses the most important archeological discovery of the 20th century, namely the Dead Sea Scrolls (The Shrine of the Book). An astounding 3Dmodel of Jerusalem as it stood at the year 66 AD, will set the stage for our tour here before we enter the special shrine which contains the Scrolls. A short pause at the square opposite the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, will allow us to inspect the state’s legislature in addition to a magnificent bronze Menorah with its carvings depicting the biblical history of Israel and the prophet Zechariah’s immortal words “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech. 4:6).
End of tour with Ofir Horn