Established during the Roman presence in Palestine in 20 CE, and named after the Roman Emperor, Tiberius is a major hub of tourist activity in Northern Israel. Etched into the hilly topography of the western shores of the Sea of Galilee or Kinneret, some 200 meters below sea level, this small city has evolved into a burgeoning urban area with a population of some 40,000 residents, most of which are Jewish.
Tiberius has been blessed with a rich history, and has been revered in Jewish and Christian circles since the second century, however, even a brief historical overview would fall way beyond the scope of this article. For thousands of years, one of the primary draws of this quaint little town is the hot springs. Tiberius actually owes its origins to this sequence of hot springs since it lured pleasure seekers during Roman times.
Just south of the OldCity is the HamatTiberiusNational Park which boasts 17 different hot springs. These therapeutic waters are known to be infused with approximately 100 different kinds of indigenous minerals. The waters from the springs also feed the baths at the renowned Tiberius Springs Spa – an ideal vacation spot where visitors can delight in a large variety of spa treatments while enjoying fantastic views of the lake.
Tiberius has always been associated with leisure and pleasure, and visitors can partake in a wide variety of activities that combine multifarious elements that include outdoor activities, especially water sports, along with contemporary attractions, as well as visits to historical, archeological and pilgrimage sites.
The city has 30 hotels including luxury suites and unique boutique hotels. There are also a number of bed and breakfast options as well as youth hostels for the budget traveler. Most hotels are located on the beach and offer vacationers a real treat. Visitors will enjoy manicured lawns, a promenade and a large selection of bars and eateries.
Jewish and Christian religionists will also find a plethora of activities in Tiberius. Just south of the city, Christians will find Yardenit, the place where Jesus was baptized. On the opposite side of the lake is the Mount of Beatitudes. Alongside the Christian holy sites, visitors can explore the burial sites of Jewish sages, making it one of Israel’s holy cities. Pilgrims pay homage to some of the great sages at the tombs of Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakai, Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess, as well as Maimonides.
By Brent J. Mitchell