Galilee - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Galilee


The Galilee is Israel's most fertile region, with an abundance of valleys, forests and farmlands. Tourists are drawn to the recreational pursuits and historical attractions associated with the area. Lake Tiberias (also known as the Sea of Galilee) is an area closely associated with the life and times of Jesus, making it a religious centre for both Christians and Jews - and the area is full of religious shrines and historical sites of interest. The city of Tiberias was built in honour of the Roman Emperor after which it was named and has played an integral role in the history of the Jews. Not only did it serve as an important spiritual centre and as the site of the compilation of the Talmud, early pioneers also established some of Israel's first kibbutzim(collective farms) around Tiberias. Today it is a popular vacation spot, offering year-round water activities, hot springs, health resorts and magnificent national parks.

Information & Facts

Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel. Most of the population also speak English.

The Israeli Shekel (ILS) is divided into 100 agorot (singular is agora). Money can be changed in the small exchange bureaux found on most main streets, or at banks and hotels. ATMs are prevalent throughout the country and linked to American systems. Most banks are open Sunday through to Friday until noon, and are open again from 4pm till 6pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, though commission on these is high.

Beit She'an was established in the 5th century BC. Its strategic location brought with it many skirmishes in an effort to control this hilltop settlement. It was the seat of Egyptian rule before falling to the King of Assyria and was later resettled as a Hellenistic city during the time of Alexander the Great. A period of conquests then followed, until the Romans returned the city to its former residents. It prospered during the time of Hadrian and experienced its golden age after the Bar Kochva revolt. Numerous buildings were constructed during this time and the residents enjoyed a time of peaceful coexistence. After Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD, the face of the city changed markedly. This was followed by further conquests until an earthquake left the city in ruins. Settlements later sprung up around the site of the ruins and the city received an influx of people post-1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel. It is now a thriving city built around the remains of an ancient centre. Most notable amongst the ruins is the Roman theatre, Byzantine bathhouse, Roman street and colonnade, and the amphitheatre used for gladiatorial battles. Budget between 2 and 4 hours to see the park properly.

The ancient port-city of Caesarea was established 2,000 years ago by Herod the Great as a tribute to the Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar. Its rich archaeological heritage includes the remains of Roman architecture - most notably, an aqueduct, a theatre, houses and palaces. For diving enthusiasts, diving amongst the ruins of Herod's city provides an extraordinary experience. Modern-day Caesarea has become well known for its fine homes, 18-hole golf course, luxury hotels, galleries and boutiques. Miles of sandy beaches stretch along the Mediterranean coastline and visitors can enjoy the sun-soaked atmosphere against this luxurious backdrop.

The warm waters of the Amal River flow through the length of the park and can be enjoyed year round, with temperatures in the region averaging around 82ºF (28ºC). Visitors to Gan Hashlosha can relax in the natural pools and rejuvenate in the natural jacuzzi that occurs underneath the flowing stream of an invigorating waterfall. Of cultural interest are the hydro-powered flour mill, the tower-and-stockade museum and the Museum of Regional and Mediterranean Archaeology. The latter museum contains a collection of Greek tools and a display of archaeological findings from Beit She'an Valley, Iran and Egypt.

The 17 springs of Hamat Tiberias flow from a source that stretches 33ft (10m) below the ground. Its therapeutic powers have been used since ancient times to cure various ailments. The Hamat Tiberias synagogue, built between 337 and 286 BC, contains the oldest surviving mosaic floor in Israel. The central mosaic is a beautifully preserved design representing a large zodiac with Helios at its centre guiding his celestial chariot in the direction of the sun.

Nazareth is one of the most important Christian holy sites, attracting pilgrims from all over the world. It was here that Jesus spent most of his life and it was here that the Miracle of the Annunciation took place. Nazareth is home to both Christians and Muslims (the largest Muslim population in Israel, in fact), and is a quaint amalgamation of red roofs and white churches dotted along the slopes of the Galilean hillside. Breathtaking views can be enjoyed from the summit, which looks out onto the Jezreel Valley. The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is one of the most important sites in the Christian world. The walls of the upper sanctuary are decorated with panels depicting scenes from the life of Mary that have been donated by Catholic communities from around the world. The nearby Church of St Joseph houses the remains of Crusader bas-reliefs, capitals and inscriptions found during the Church's construction. The Synagogue Church in Nazareth is thought to have been built over the site where Jesus preached and read of the coming of the Messiah. The Mosque Quarter is an interesting area comprising an elegant mosque within the central market area. The Turkish-style edifice was constructed in 1812 and today belongs to the wealthy Fahoum family.

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