Northern Israel – Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Tzafad
Northern Israel is the main destination for many pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. Beyond Jerusalem here are the main points of the Christian religion, known from the New Testament. We started our trip with Nazareth, where Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she would have a son, whom she was to name Jesus. The main purpose of the trips here, is Basilica of the Annuciation – a place where according to the beliefs the annunciation took place. Basilica is one of the most important temples for Christians, right after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Basilica is huge and significantly different from the temples mentioned above. It’s built in a modern style and its interior resembles more of a fortress than a church. At its main point, there’s the Grotto of the Annunciation.
Right next to the Basilica, is the Church of St. Joseph’s. According to the Christian tradition, St. Joseph’s workshop was supposed to be here.
While being in Nazareth it’s worth going to a nearby souk – a market that offers local products and souvenirs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see it because we visited Nazareth in the late evening hours.
About 8 km (5 miles) north of Nazareth there’s another important pilgrimage point – Cana of Galilee. Here Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding feast.
A little further east, on the scenic Galilee Lake you can visit Mount of the Beatitiudes. Visitors head to the main point of the mountain – to the Church of Beatitiudes, the place of Jesus’ sermon. It can be recognised by the distinctive dome.
The church is surrounded by a beautiful garden with viewing terraces from which you can enjoy a great view of Lake Galilee.
Near the Church of Beatitudes you can visit the Church of Multiplication of Loaves and Fish, where Jesus miraculously multiplied two fish and five loaves of bread to feed the crowds.
While being in the area it’s also worth visiting Safed (Tzafat). Safed is located at the height of 3000 feet and is also the highest located city in Israel. It’s the main centre of Kabbalah – Jewish mysticism and one of the four most sacred cities in Judaism (including Jerusalem, Tiberias and Hebron).
The Kabbalah, unlike Rabbinic Judaism, is based on reading sacred books between the lines, and the letters and accent of each word has a numerical value that gives additional meaning to words. Indeed, visiting Safed you can feel a specific spiritual atmosphere, different from the other places in Israel. The city is famous for many artists whose works can be seen at a local, elegant market.
The dominant colour of the city is blue, which in an interesting way contrasts with white architecture. Additionally, the streets are decorated by numerous sculptures and artistic installations.
While walking along the maze of narrow streets, we virtually didn’t see any tourists. Thanks to this, we could observe the life of the residents of this city.
Tourist guides advise against visiting Tzafat on Shabbat, which runs from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Then many streets are closed to traffic and a car ride is rather risky then, as local residents throw stones at moving vehicles.
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