Welcome To Israel – the Holy Land, Arrival at TLV Airport
Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv where your Guide will meet you. Transfer to your Hotel. Dinner and orientation by your guide. Free evening to explore Tel Aviv. Overnight in or near Tel Aviv.
Jaffa – Caesarea Maritima – Mt. Carmel
We shall start our pilgrimage touring the old city of Jaffa, one of the ancient gateways to the Holyland: Through its port the cedar trees for Solomon’s Temple were brought, the prophet Jonah tried to flee from God, and perhaps most famously, St. Peter visited the house of Simon the Tanner and had the “Vision of the Flesh” before performing his first miracle by healing the little girl. Today Jaffa’s renovated alleys attract many artists who have their galleries there. From Jaffa, we’ll drive to Caesarea Maritima, the magnificent port city built by King Herod the Great. St. Peter sailed from Caesarea when he went to Rome. In Caesarea’s well-preserved theater an inscription of the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate was found, who famously washed his hands of responsibility before allowing Jesus to be crucified. We continue along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea to climbing the ever-green hills to Mt. Carmel. Here we will visit the Carmelite Monastery, where the monks get their spiritual inspiration from the view and from the deeds of Elijah the Prophet who had his famous showdown with the prophets of Baal on this mountain. In the late afternoon, we’ll drive through the Galilee to Tiberias, where we will spend the night. Overnight in Tiberias.
Cana & Nazareth
We start the day in Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding. Cana’s modest church is a popular place to reconfirm wedding vows. Returning to the bus we’ll continue to Nazareth where we’ll visit the Basilica of the Annunciation and St. Joseph’s Church. We will also stroll through Nazareth’s colorful Bazaar and visit the Greek Orthodox St. Gabriel Church near Mary’s Well. Overnight in Tiberias.
Around The Sea of Galilee: Capernaum, Mount of the Beatitudes, Tabgha, Banias Nature Reserve
On Day 4 we visit the places where Jesus frequented around the Sea of Galilee: We visit Capernaum, with St. Peters House and the famous Synagogue, enjoy the view from Mount of the Beatitudes where the “Sermon on the Mount” was given, and also visit the reconstructed church at Tabgha, where tradition puts the miracle of the Bread and The Fish. In the afternoon we make a short drive to the Banias Nature Reserve which contains the ancient town of Caesarea Philippi, where the Keys to Heaven were given to Simon Peter. Overnight in Tiberias.
Mt. Tabor & Megiddo
Our first mission on Day 5 is to ascend Mt. Tabor. Its majestic presence overlooking the Jezreel Valley has led to the speculative tradition that it was here was Jesus’ Transfiguration took place. The road up this mountain is so steep that pilgrims coming by bus have to switch to taxis in order to be able to ascend to the mountain peak where the renowned architect Barluzzi designed a unique church. After descending the mountain, we’ll drive to Megiddo, associated with a biblical prophecy of the battle of Armageddon. Here excavations have revealed some very important findings from the time of the Canaanites, King Solomon, and the Kingdom of Israel. Overnight in Tiberias.
Yardenit – Beth Shean – Jericho – Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.
After a stop at the Yardenit Baptismal Site at the Jordan River, we’ll continue along the Jordan Valley to Beth Shean, an important city during the times of the Old Testament (where King Saul’s last battle took place). In Jesus’ time, it is mentioned as a city of the Decapolis, an alliance of ten independent cities with a mixed Roman-Jewish community. After visiting its very well-preserved antiquities, we travel in Jesus’ footsteps through the Jordan Valley and past Jericho, to enter Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives. On Mount Scopus, at a point overlooking the Holy City, we will step out of the bus for a Welcome Ceremony to Jerusalem. Overnight in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Old City: Garden of Gethsemane – “Wailing Wall” – Temple Mount – Via Dolorosa – Church of the Holy Sepulcher – King David’s Tomb – “Room of the Last Supper”
We’ll start our Jerusalem tour at the Garden of Gethsemane, continuing from there to visit the “Wailing Wall”, the last remnants of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. If the current situation allows it, we will try to tour the Temple Mount as well, featuring the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. From there we’ll walk in the footsteps of Jesus along the Stations of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa which tradition associates with Jesus’ “Way of Suffering”. This will lead us to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus was crucified and buried. The Via Dolorosa also passes through the Old City’s oriental “suq” (bazaar). At the end of the day, we’ll visit King David’s Tomb and the “Room of the Last Supper“ on Mount Zion. Overnight in Jerusalem.
Bethlehem & Ein Karem
On this day we will see and visit sites that remind us of the beginning of Jesus’ life: We’ll drive to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, where we’ll visit the Church of the Nativity, still standing since the 4th century! We will also see the famous Milk Grotto and the “Shepherds Fields”. [Important Notice: As Bethlehem is today under the control of the Palestinian Authority, responsibility there is solely on our Palestinian colleagues. Tour can be canceled without prior notice due to security or other reasons.] In the afternoon we will visit the picturesque village, Ein Karem, where, according to tradition, John the Baptist was born. Overnight in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem’s New City: Yad Vashem – “Menorah” – Knesset – Israel Museum
This day is dedicated to Jerusalem’s New City: We’ll visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, and Museum commemorating the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. From there we continue to the famous “Menorah” (Candelabra) situated outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The “Menorah” shows us the history of the Jewish people from biblical times up to the present day. In the afternoon we’ll visit the Israel Museum where we shall see the original “Dead Sea Scrolls” and the famous 1:50 model of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus! Overnight in Jerusalem.
Qumran – Ein Gedi – Dead Sea
On this day southward bound, heading into the desert! We will visit Qumran, where most of the famous “Dead Sea Scrolls” were found. At Qumran, we’ll learn about the way of life of the Essenes, Jews who lived according to a strict ascetic regimen and who were probably responsible for composing many of the scrolls found at the site. Interestingly, there is also a great deal of evidence that John the Baptist may have been associated with the Essenes! We will also do a short hike in Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul in a cave and surreptitiously cut off a portion of his robe. Till this very day the natural vegetation, animals, and flowing water remind us of the biblical descriptions. We will not miss, of course, some floating (not swimming!) in the Dead Sea, the deepest point on earth! Overnight in Jerusalem.
If your flight-schedule permits it, you will have some free time for shopping or other personal activities before your transfer to the Ben Gurion International Airport for your flight back home.