Seated in the majestic Jordan Valley overlooking the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, the city of Tiberias is known as a popular resort destination and a major tourist attraction for travelers across Israel and from around the world.
This city of approximately 40,000 residents is a hot spot for hotels, fine dining, and water-based attractions in and around the Sea of Galilee. But Tiberias is also home to a wealth of biblical and historical sites. Tiberias is considered to be one of the “holiest cities” in Israel because of its prominence in Jewish life for hundreds of years after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
Scholars believe this city’s first appearance in scripture was found in the Book of Joshua, referred to as Rakkat.
Tiberias was founded by Roman tetrarch Herod Antipas — who minted the first coin in this location. He named the city after his protector and friend, the emperor Tiberius Caesar. The city held a pivotal role in the region 2,000 years ago as the titular capital of the Galilee. While Tiberias was in existence when Jesus ministered and performed miracles in the region, there is no reference of him entering this Roman city. However, the scriptures record the people of Tiberias coming to Capernaum to hear Jesus teach.
One particular site of interest is the 900-year-old St. Peter’s Church, built atop a former Crusader church. On the eastern side of the city sits an Ottoman-era Greek Orthodox church.
There are also other significant biblical sites in relative proximity to Tiberias, including Capernaum, Korazim National Park, Tabgha, and Magdala. Near Magdala, you can also visit the Yigal Allon Centre, more commonly known as “The Jesus Boat Museum,” where a boat from the time of Jesus is on display after having been discovered in the seashore mud by fishermen sailing the Sea of Galilee.
Just a few miles outside the city limits, visitors can relax in one of Hammat Tiberias’ 17 hot springs, naturally infused with hundreds of unique and therapeutic minerals found only in the region. Once a Canaanite city, the spas at Hammat Tiberias drew many outsiders to its healing waters and remain as popular as ever. After a generous soak, head next door to see a 4th century synagogue, with its well-preserved and intricate mosaic floors.
The city’s dynamic commercial center is dotted with restaurants that offer international cuisine. Nearby are cafés, pubs, ice cream parlors, and souvenir shops. The beaches along the Sea of Galilee’s freshwater seashore invite your imagination. The area is dominated by a variety of water sports and recreation, and the evening lake breezes often beckon visitors for an impromptu cruise.
If you’re looking to extend your stay in Tiberias, you can lodge at any one of the hotels, bed & breakfasts, or Christian guest homes within the city limits.