Located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion, St. Peter in Gallicantu was built in the 5th century and is believed to be the location of Caiaphas’ house, the setting for the story of Peter’s denial of his connection with Jesus on the night of his trial and the shedding of his self-recriminatory tears. Pilgrims to the St. Peter in Gallicantu Church can explore ancient artifacts and relics from the time of Jesus, including a statue that describes the events of the denial of Jesus by Peter, the cock, the maid and the Roman soldier; a painting depicting St. Peter, Jesus and the cock; and an ancient staircase facing the Valley of Kidron. In the church basement, pilgrims can explore an array of caves from the Second Temple Period that were believed to have housed a jail where Jesus was held after his arrest.
Youtube tour of St. Peters click here.
Jesus spent the majority of his life growing up in Nazareth, working in the community, walking the countryside, bringing his ministry of teaching and healing throughout the region and performing numerous miracles along the way from Cana to Tabgha. Even still, Nazareth and Galilee as a whole have not yet evolved as an international destination and tourism to the region pales in comparison to Jerusalem. While more than 87 percent of Christian tourists visit Jerusalem, only 60 percent of Israel’s Christian tourists visit the Galilee.
Why does Galilee attract fewer Christians despite the fact that Jesus spent most of his life there? Part of the answer lies in the fact that the Galilee region, despite offering an abundance of important sites, is relatively “off the beaten path” and not as easy to navigate on foot as Jerusalem, which hosts a concentration of sites proximate to each other.
In an effort to address this, the Israel Ministry of Tourism, along with its partners at the Jewish National Fund, began planning the Gospel Trail, a 60-kilometer hiking trail, 10 years ago. Fast forward several years to 2010. Israel had experienced a dramatic rise in Christian tourism, culminating in a record-breaking 2.3 million Christian tourists.
The Gospel Trail begins at the Mount of Precipice in Nazareth where, according to Luke 4:14-28, Jesus was rejected by his townsmen who threatened to throw him over the mountainside. The trail travels down the ancient “Pilgrims Path” 500 meters to the Jezreel Valley below, and continues along the Nazareth Range providing views of the Mount Tabor, Kafr Kanna and travels, via the Golani Junction to the Horns of Hattin site of the clash between the Crusader forces and the Muslim armies under Saladin. It continues past the antiquities of Magdala to Tabgha, the Mount of Beatitudes, eventually ending at Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee.
The Gospel Trail experience offers the Christian faithful a unique opportunity to take a similar path to the one that Jesus would have trodden.
Additional branches of the trail will allow visitors to access other important sites. A new dock alongside Capernaum allows visitors to include a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, where, according to Mark 4:35, Jesus calmed the sea. With a ride to Ein Gev or Tiberias, groups can have the possibility of including prayer time or singing on the boat. Scripture readings, safety barriers, shaded rest areas and safety features are to be included and are expected to be in place along the trail shortly.
The Gospel Trail is part of the Israel Ministry of Tourism’s effort to broaden Israel’s tourism and reach new market segments like hikers and Christian youth groups. Pilgrimage is viewed as a natural means to self discovery and attracts young people seeking to connect to their spiritual roots.
The Gospel Trail is envisioned to serve a similar purpose: to connect youths to pilgrimage by walking in Jesus’ footsteps. Pilgrimage is viewed as a natural means to self discovery and attracts young people seeking to connect to their spiritual roots.
The Gospel Trail was developed in consultation with Evangelical, Protestant and Orthodox church leaders and provides pilgrims and others an opportunity to experience the Holy Land on foot while connecting in a spiritual and physical way to the Biblical landscapes that feature in Jesus’ life.
The Gospel Trail comes on the heels of another popular northern Israel hike also catering to Christian tourists, the Jesus Trail. The Jesus Trail follows a similar route as the new Gospel Trail and to a large extent serves the same function. However, the Jesus Trail encourages a bit more diversity as it passes through some outlying Arab villages in the Galilee while the Gospel Trail, focuses more on exploring the indigenous nature of the region.
By highlighting their connection to important holy sites, both bring a much-needed awareness to Galilee, a region that is still often overlooked by visitors to Israel, though, perhaps, not for much longer.
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him” (Matthew 4:23-25).
The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem is one site that no visitor should miss. This amazing museum offers you the opportunity to experience captivating exhibits that will deepen your understanding of the Holy City. But, even more, its very stones are part of this city’s living history.
The complex housing the museum, located at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, spans the centuries: its nearly 500-year-old walls are part of the Turkish citadel; its name derives from a tower so massive that early Jerusalemites ascribed it to their great King David (ironically its builder was actually the much-maligned King Herod); and, finally, the spire standing over it became a worldwide symbol for Jerusalem after the British General Allenby marched into Jerusalem beneath its shadow in 1917.
Your visit can begin with a breathtaking view of old and new Jerusalem from the top of the tower for which the museum is named. After that, you can explore the many incredible exhibits, where videos, dioramas, and computer graphics come together to illuminate the complexities of a city unique in the annals of human history. Each ancient room has been renovated to showcase a different historical era, allowing the tempestuous events of 4,000 years of history to fall perfectly into place in your mind.
Along the way, you’ll see that the windows frame glimpses of modern Jerusalem, and with each doorway you exit, you can look down into the citadel’s central courtyard, where archaeologists have unearthed remains dating from the Maccabees to the Middle Ages. The museum also utilizes its unique space for multisensory exhibits by leading designers and artists from Israel and abroad, and for memorable private functions.
To learn more about this must-see site, please visit www.towerofdavid.org.il/.
Recent excavations near Gush Etzion have fully exposed a “royal box,” built at the upper level of King Herod’s private theatre at the Herodian fortress/palace. The theatre box provides a further indication of the luxurious lifestyle favoured by the well-known Jewish monarch with examples of elaborate Roman wall paintings rarely found outside Italy.