Haifa, Israel – Day 1 – Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee

November 7, 2011

Our second stop on the itinerary was an exciting one and a nerve wracking one.  Israel is always on guard because of the threat of terrorism in the Middle East.  We were told that we can’t get our passports stamped in Israel because when we get to the other ports on our itinerary they wouldn’t grant us entry.  We were given landing cards and a photocopy of our passport.  John and I are both religious I am Greek Orthodox and he is Catholic so visiting Jerusalem today is something we both have always wanted to do. 

Bahá’í World Centre from top of Mount Carmel
Panoramic view of Haifa from the top of Mount Carmel

It is believed that Jesus lived, preached and performed his miracles in this beautiful place.  It might not be exactly where we were but it sure is close. The first stop on tour was the top of Mount Carmel.  We had a great panoramic view of Haifa.  After taking great pictures of the city, we headed towards Nazareth the place where Jesus spent his early years.  We saw the amazing Basilica of the Annunciation, one of Christendom’s most revered shrines and the largest church in the Middle East.   The Basilica is built on the same sight where the Archangel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah.  We were mesmerized by the grotto where Mary had lived.  A 170’ high cupola that rises high above the upper church adds to the Basilica’s grandeur that allows the interior to be lit up by natural light.

Next stop was the Church of Joseph, which is built over the chambers that once housed Joseph’s carpentry shop where Jesus worked with him.  From here we went on a small walking tour through the colorful bazaar past Mary’s well, a white stone fountain that serves as a shrine commemorating the Virgin Mary.

Joseph’s Carpentry Shop
Joseph’s Carpentry Shop

After boarding our tour bus, we headed through a town called Cana, the place where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine.  Then we moved on to Tabgha, where Jesus later multiplied the loaves and fishes.

Tabgha – Mosaic of fish and bread

Next stop on tour was a trip to Capernaum located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee; this is considered the center of Jesus’ ministry while he was living in the area. We had a chance to see the synagogue with a lovely mosaic floor which was recently discovered.

John at Capernaum

Our last stop was Yardenit baptismal site where the River Jordan separates from the Sea of Galilee. We were lucky enough to see a few baptisms happening while we were there.

Yardenit Baptismal Site
Watching a Baptism at Yardenit
Grotto of the Annunciation
Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter
Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter
Maria & John by the Sea of Galilee