Following the Gospel Trail
In Israel you can literally follow in the footsteps of Jesus, visiting the many locations where he preached, lived and died. The Gospel Trail (also called the Jesus Trail) is a moderate hike route which has been devised linking several significant points mentioned in the Gospel so that those following the trail can not only enjoy the gorgeous countryside of northern Israel but also visit Biblical sites. The Gospel Trail runs through the Galilee, often called the cradle of Christianity because it was here that Jesus grew up and where he returned to preach during his ministry. Jesus grew up in Nazareth and later based himself in Capernaum during his ministry when he went from village to village preaching God’s word.
The Gospel Trail opened in 2011 today it covers 60km of sign posted footpaths and roads which trace historical and Biblical routes where Jesus is believed to have walked when he left Nazareth for Capernaum on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The sign posts which mark the route are hewn into basalt rock to blend into the natural surroundings. Each sign post features scriptures relating to the Biblical events which took place at that location. Along the way there are also information stands, picnic sites and benches.
It is possible to follow the trail on foot, bike, by car or combine those using different forms of transport on different stretches of the trail. You can choose which segments of the route you follow according to your interests and your fitness level. There are even stretches of the trail which are wheelchair accessible.
The Gospel Trail Route
The Gospel Trail runs from Nazareth to Capernaum. The route begins at Mount Precipice, on the southern outskirts of Nazareth and travels through valleys and limestone hills via Beit Qeshet Oak Reserve, Magdala, Tabgha and finally reaches Capernaum on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. The route incorporates pathways which have been used by shepherds, travelers, farmers and merchants since ancient times. The route ends at the Capernaum Center from where you can reach the Sea of Galilee where a dock has been constructed so that followers of the trail can pray at the water’s edge and enjoy the breathtaking views across the water.
Gospel Trail Points of Interest
Nazareth – The city where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her of her future pregnancy and son. It is also the city where Jesus grew up. One of the highlights of Nazareth is the Church of the Annunciation.
Zippori National Park – This was the administrative capital of the Galilee in Jesus’ lifetime. In addition to the amazing nature there is an archeological site dating back to the 2nd century. It is most famous for its Byzantine mosaics in an ancient synagogue floor.
Cana – Here Jesus performed his first miracle turning water into wine. Visitors can see the Wedding Church and museum.
Ilaniya – This small Jewish community was one of the earliest farming community settlements. Today the community offers visitors a model 20th century farm, the ruins of a Byzantine synagogue and some ancient caves.
Roman Road – The route crosses an ancient Roman road which would have been used by Jesus. During his lifetime it was a major thoroughfare running east to west.
Kibbutz Lavi – One of only a few orthodox religious kibbutzim; it was founded in 1949 and today is known as a major producer of synagogue furniture.
Horns of Hattin – A decisive battle took place here between the Crusaders and Saladin in 1187. From the double hills there are brilliant views across the Galilee.
Nebi Shu’eib – The site of the traditional Tomb of Jethro, father-in-law of Moses. Today the site is marked by a large Druze mosque and complex.
Arbel National Park – There are gorgeous views from these dramatic cliffs where the Romans conquered the Hasmonean rebels.
Migdal – This is the site of the ancient town of Magdala, the home town of Mary Magdalene. Here there are several Roman-era ruins.
Sea of Galilee – Israel’s largest fresh water lake is also the site of many Biblical events. It was here that Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. Today you can take short cruises on the lake, swim and enjoy the beaches.
Jesus Boat – A 1st century fishing boat was discovered in the Sea of Galilee; it has been preserved and is on display at Kibbutz Ginosar.
Tabgha – Visit the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes and see where Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection.
Mount of Beatitudes – This was the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Today the mount is topped by a beautiful church.
St. Peter’s Primacy – This church on the water’s edge was built in 1933 and marks the site where Jesus made Peter head of the church. The church holds the Mensa Christi, a slab of rock thought to be where Jesus sat with his disciples.
Capernaum – Jesus based himself in Capernaum while preaching in the Galilee and there are several mentions of Capernaum in the Bible. This is also where Jesus performed a number of miracles and where you can see St. Peter’s House.
You can continue on from Capernaum to visit the city of Tiberius, the Jordan River, Mount Tabor and Mount Precipice as a continuation of the Gospel Trail.