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The Upper Galilee

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The Upper Galilee

Banias

Panias, Caesarea Phillipi, Neronis, all refer to what today is called Banias. Located at the foot of Mount Hermon, Banias offers the visitor a rich variety of touring opportunities, be it hiking, archeology, history and religious references of both the Old and New Testament. 

Tel Dan

Tel Dan is located in the very north of Israel, within one of the most lusciously rich national parks in the country. Perhaps the most impressive find recently uncovered at Tel Dan is the first non-biblical find that mentions the House of David.

Safed

900 meters (3200 feet) above sea level in the mountains of the Upper Galilee is the small town of Safed, one of the four holy cites in Judaism (the others are Hebron, Jerusalem and Tiberias). Safed is the world center for Jewish mysticism - Kabballah.

Agmon Hahula

Agmon Hahula (The Hula lake) is an important resting place for birds migrating from Europe to Africa and back. The reserve has lovely walking trails and lookout points where visitors can observe the birds.

More sites and attractions coming real soon

Sites in Israel

Banias

Panias, Caesarea Phillipi, Neronis, all refer to what today is called Banias. Located at the foot of Mount Hermon, Banias offers the visitor a rich variety of touring opportunities, be it hiking, archeology, history and religious references of both the Old and New Testament.

The location of Banias provides it with natural defenses, ensuring its ancient cities with the protection of riverbanks and cliffs in the south, north and west. The history of Banias is linked to the cult of Pan that centered on the spring at the foot of the cliff of Banias and the grotto from which the waters of the spring emerged in antiquity. The Greek historian Polybius first mentions it in his description of the battle waged there between the Ptolemy and Seleucid kingdoms.

At the end of the first century BCE the emperor Augustus added Banias to King Herod’s domain. It was Herod’s son Philip who built his capital here calling the city Caesarea Philippi. It is here that we read of the famous dialogue between Jesus and the disciples (Matthew 16:13).

At the beginning of the fourth century, when Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, the temples dedicated to Pan were destroyed. After the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, the city lost its importance and became a small insignificant village. For the Crusaders, Banias served as a natural border between their kingdom and the Muslim kingdom in Damascus. After the expulsion of the Crusaders at the end of the 12th century, Banias again declined into a small insignificant village.

Sites in Israel

Sites in Israel

Tel Dan

Tel Dan is located in the very north of Israel, within one of the most lusciously rich national parks in the country. Perhaps the most impressive find recently uncovered at Tel Dan is a Basalt stela with an ancient inscription written by Hazael King of Damascusboasting he killed the king of Israel and the king of “Beit David”. This is the first non-biblical find that mentions the House of David.

The first peoples to settle here appear to date to the fifth millennium BCE. Remains found from that period include vessels, scythe blades and the bones of domesticated animals. The next significant settlement occurred during the Early Bronze Age (2700-2400 BCE). The next period of settlement at Tel Dan was the biblical city of Laish (18th century BCE), cotemporaneous with the period of Abraham and mentioned in Genesis 14:14 where we read that Abraham went to the rescue of his nephew Lot. Unable to defeat the Philistines who occupied a portion of their patrimony, members of the tribe of Dan migrate north and capture Laish changing its name to Dan (Judges 18).

Jeroboam, first king of the rebellious 10 tribes and of the Kingdom of Israel, builds an alternative to the temple in Jerusalem at Dan.  Today, the uncovered alter to that temple can be seen. The fortifications of

Tel Dan today are attributed to King Ahab (860-850 BCE) who built them upon previous fortifications dating to the First Temple period. Then in 732 BCE, Tiglath-Pileser lll, King of Assyria, invaded Israel and conquered the cities of the north together with Dan.

The settlement of Dan continued to exist continuously until the Roman period, when Banias assumed prominence.

Sites in Israel

Sites in Israel

Safed

900 meters (3200 feet) above sea level in the mountains of the Upper Galilee is the small town of Safed, one of the four holy cites in Judaism (the others are Hebron, Jerusalem and Tiberias). Modern Tsfat dates back to the 16th century where some of the greatest scholars, spiritual leaders and religious thinkers of the Jewish world came in order to escape the Spanish Inquisition. The discussions that took place in the town’s  narrow streets, and the many writings which they generated, transformed the thinking of much of the Jewish world. They gave Safed its present distinction as the world center for Jewish mysticism – Kabballah.  Today the Old City of Safed is a picturesque neighborhood of narrow alleys and cobblestone streets where 19 active synagogues dating from the 16th century, each with its rich history and folklore, are still in use. Intermingled with the synagogues is the artists’ quarter where the artists’ home studios are open to the public. At first established by Jewish artists escaping Europe during and after World War II, the quarter today includes new immigrant artists and craftsmen from Russia, Ethiopia and English speaking countries.

Historical sources indicate that the town was founded in the 2nd century C.E. during Roman times. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, many prominent rabbis found their way to Safed, which became the key center for Jewish mysticism, known as Kabbalah. Among the prominent kabbalists who made their home in Safed was Isaac Luria. The influx of Sephardi Jews made Safed a global center for Jewish learning and a regional center for trade throughout 15th and 16th centuries. The Middle East’s first printing press was established in Safed in 1578.Today, Safed has seen a resurgence of popularity, and has again become a center for Jewish learning. With quaint cobblestone streets, it has also gained a reputation as an artist colony.

In the past 20 years, Hasidic Jews have settled in Safed and begun to rebuild its synagogues. Most of these synagogues were founded in the sixteenth century. Many of the synagogues serve the Hasidic communities of Safed today. Some of them are open to the general public on a regular basis.

Sites in Israel

Sites in Israel

Agmon Hahula

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The Hula Birdwatching Centre is part of a network of regional birdwatching centers in Israel that operates under the wing of the Israel Ornithological Centre (IOC) of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). The Hula Birdwatching Centre was founded to provide local environmental awareness and protection through research, conservation, education and ecotourism.

Situated within the heart of the Great Rift Valley, the Hula Valley in the north of Israel is one of the main wintering and migratory sites of over 300 bird species. The Hula Valley, once one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the Middle East, was drained in the 1950’s for agriculture. In the southern part of the valley, the Hula Nature Reserve was created to help offset the loss of the marsh and lake that were there in the past. However, today most of the valley, some 30 sq. km, is agricultural land. In 1994, a relatively large area of poor agricultural land has been restored to wetlands and marshes.  The combination of the restored area, nature reserve and the surrounding agricultural fields has created over 60 sq. km with  a variety of habitats attracting many birds and other wildlife. Today the area draws  tens of thousands of waterfowl, raptors and waders.

Twenty Globally Threatened species are found in the valley including the endangered Imperial Eagle, Spotted Eagle, and Marbled Duck. Many more ‘rare’ species can be seen in the valley such as Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Pallid Harrier, Black Francolin, White-tailed Eagle, Oriental Skylark and Siberian  Stonechat to name just a few. One of the most amazing phenomena occurring here is the migration and wintering of tens of thousands of Common Crane. During peak season, October through November up to 30,000 cranes can be seen at one time. Up to 20,000 cranes regularly winter in the Hula Valley every year since the early 90’s. The spectacle of seeing so many of those magnificent birds is something that will soften the heart of even the most cynical.

Sites in Israel

- Banana grove

- An olive grove

- Mango orchard

- Date orchard

-St. Peter's fish

- Historical site

The Via Dolorosa

Jesus is nailed to the cross

Enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and take the steep stairs that appear immediately on your right to the landing above. The nave on the right is a Franciscan chapel where Jesus was nailed to the cross (John 19:17).

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