The Galilee is a land unparalleled. It is home to numerous cultures and faiths that form a mosaic unseen anywhere in the world. The recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI has enhanced the region's significance for Christians around the world.
The Sea of Galilee, the local UNESCO World Heritage Sites and unrivalled bird-watching spots are just some of the attractions the Galilee holds. Local touristic locations attract visitors from around the world. These sites are of an utmost historic value, and are a treasure of the Israeli tourism industry.
Each year the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee puts millions of shekels into the development of Galilean tourist ventures and sites. The secret to the region's irresistible draw lies in its ability to offer historic, cultural and spiritual experiences as part of a relaxing vacation.
The Go Galilee project will acquaint you with the region's important sites and allow you to experience its atmosphere and beauty up close. It will enable you to plan ideal holidays for groups, individuals, families, and adventure seekers.
It is with your help that we will be able to raise the number of visitors to the Galilee. I am convinced that your visits to Israel and the experiences you will enjoy in the Galilee will make you our foremost spokespersons.
The name Galilee, meaning Province in Hebrew, dates back to ancient times. It first appeared in the Book of Josiah, referring to Glil HaGoyim – the province of many nations and cultures. Following the destruction of the Temple in the 6th Century B.C. the name came to designate a geographic area in northern Israel. Even today the word remains true to its ancient origins as it continues to denote a region that is home to many different peoples and communities. Although not particularly large, the region boasts an incredible assortment of sceneries, plants, sites, and people; even its borders attest to this wealth. To the north are the Lebanese frontier and Mount Hermon, a unique mountainous region that contains the sources of the Jordan River and unique cities and settlements. To the east the region's border runs along the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley; these areas contain many ancient cities, are rich in historic lore, and simply abound with water. In the south the regional border runs through the Jezreel and Bet She'an Valleys. Both are repeatedly mentioned in ancient and historic sources, and take pride in their glorious past. To the west is the Mediterranean Sea, across which came the crusaders and Napoleon, who suffered defeat by the walls of Acre.
The Galilee is divided into several sub-regions. The Upper Galilee is characterized by the presence of relatively high mountains, the highest of which is Mount Meron (standing at nearly 4,000 feet), temperate climate, and settlements of a more rural nature than those found in the Lower Galilee to its south. There the mountains are lower, and share the topography with valleys. The two parts of the Galilee are separated by Beit HaKerem Valley. Lying along the coast, the Western Galilee forms the third piece of the Galilean mosaic.
A history going back thousands of years attests to an incredible number of cultures that originated in and left their mark on the Galilee. Forgotten kingdoms, extinct cultures, cave homesteads, ruinous ancient settlements, age-old, mysterious mosaics, and hundreds of other historic and archaeological sites are the mementos of bygone times. Ancient writings mention the Galilee time and again: the Old and New Testaments, the works of Jewish-Roman historian Josephus, and the Mishna and Talmud. The Galilee features prominently in the Islamic and crusader traditions; testaments of these two cultures are found across the region.
Nowhere is the diverse Galilean character manifested more strongly than it its communities: lone farms, agricultural villages, kibbutzim, communal settlements, small towns, cities, and farms are all to be found. The many ethnic communities residing here also indicate that life in the Galilee is more colorful than anywhere in the country. Druze, Circassians, Bedouins, Mormons, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Sufis, Ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews all live in harmony.
Even today the Galilee is a region unparalleled. The comfortable climate, the many streams and springs, and, most importantly, the spectacular views join to form this attractive uniqueness. The Galilee has also become synonymous with holidaymaking: visitors can expect hospitable communities, guesthouses, bed & breakfasts, and hotels of different classes. Local accommodations range from star-lit camping sites to five-star hotels or luxury bed & breakfasts, complete with Jacuzzi baths and spas. Over the past few years the region's tourist amenities have progressed immensely. Today, nearly every location offers a selection of things to do and see. Archaeological, historic, and religious sites are more accessible than ever before, and freelance guides and various companies offer reliable guidance and accompaniment. Local guides can take you to places you could never find on your own, where you can truly acquaint yourself with the different local cultures. Restaurants representing every cuisine in existence, elite vineyards, local bakeries, and cheese and olive oil makers are just part of the unique Galilean culinary map.
Apart from these hidden gems, the Galilee is also home to world-famous tourist attractions. It is a land rich in heroic tales of old, abundant water sources and ancient cities. ; Nazareth, the childhood home of Christ, ranks first among the latter. The old city of Acre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Sea of Galilee is known to practically every Christian; Hatzor, Dan, and Megiddo are renowned among history fans; and the Hula Valley has gained fame among birdwatchers from across the world, who come there to watch migrating birds.
The Galilee as a Bridge
Many people regard the Galilee as a bridge that links peoples and religions and allows them to co-exist peacefully. From an archaeological, historic point of view it is regarded as a bridge between past and present. At the many spiritual and religious settlements it is seen as a bridge between Man and God, while in the great outdoors it is a bridge joining Man with Mother Earth. The Galilee's position as a bridge between continents is evident by the splendid sight of migrating birds and the interface of the southern deserts and the cooler regions to the north.