This wonderful vacation begins in Tel Aviv and travels via Caesarea (with visits to the Roman Amphitheater and the impressive Crusader Fortress) to the ancient fortified city of Megiddo, regarded as one of the most important biblical sights in Israel; Muhraqa; and Haifa, a city with a long history dating back to biblical times. Here, enjoy a visit to the Baha’i Shrine, the world center of Baha’i faith. In Acre, tour the excavated part of the vast underground Crusader City. Continue to Nazareth to visit St. Joseph’s Church and Cana, site of the miracle where Jesus changed water into wine. Arrive at Kibbutz, where you will enjoy a lecture on kibbutz life. On the way to Jerusalem, visit the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount; Capernaum, where Jesus recruited his first followers among the fishermen; and Bet She’an, with its Roman and Byzantine relics. Also enjoy a cruise on the Sea of Galilee. From Jerusalem, where you will stay for five nights, enjoy included excursions to Ein Karem; Bethlehem, where you will visit the Church of the Nativity on the site where Jesus was born; Masada; and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the earth. Enjoy a walking tour of Jerusalem and visit the Wailing Wall, the most holy shrine in the Jewish religion; the House of Caiaphas, where Jesus was kept the night after his arrest; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; Mount of Olives; the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed his last prayer before his arrest; and more. Follow the Way of the Cross along Via Doloroso. Time in Jerusalem gives you the chance to attend Mass or service and the opportunity to explore on your own. On your way back to Tel Aviv, stop in the Valley of Elah, site of David’s victory over Goliath; Latrun; and Jaffa. You’re sure to capture many stories on this fascinating vacation taking a Journey through the Holy Land.
Day #1 Arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel. Welcome to Tel Aviv! Enjoy this evening’s welcome drink with your traveling companions, hosted by your Tour Director.
Day #2 Tel Aviv–Caesarea–Megiddo–Muhraqa–Haifa. Start your tour of the Holy Land with Caesarea, the perfect place to learn about the Roman and Crusader presence in the country. Visit the ROMAN AMPHITHEATER and the impressive CRUSADER FORTRESS, and admire Herod’s Stadium and harbor. In the afternoon, travel to the ancient fortified city of Megiddo, regarded as one of the most important biblical sites in Israel. This is the famous battleground where armed struggles of Assyrians, Canaanites, Egyptians, Greeks, Israelites, Persians, Philistines, and Romans took place. According to the New Testament, Armageddon will serve as the gathering place for an army that will fight in the battle that causes the return of Jesus Christ (Revelation 16:16). Next, continue along the coast through Baron Edmond de Rothschild’s vineyards and apricot groves to the slopes of the scenic Carmel mountain range. At Muhraqa, site of Prophet Elijah’s contest of faith with the priests of Baal, enjoy a sweeping panoramic view of the fertile Jezreel Valley. Via the Druze village of Daliyat el-Carmel you reach Haifa, a city with a long history dating back to biblical times. (B,D)
Day #3 Haifa–Acre–Nazareth–Cana–Kibbutz. Enjoy a visit to the golden-domed BAHA’I SHRINE, the world center of Baha’i faith. Next, visit Acre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the northern end of the lovely Bay of Haifa. Acre became the capital of the Crusader kingdom after its conquest by Richard the Lionheart. Marvel at the forbidding Ottoman fortress and tour the excavated part of the immense underground CRUSADER CITY with its secret passageways and the vaulted crypt of the Knights of St. John. On to Nazareth in Galilee, chief scene of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Here, visit the contemporary CHURCH OF THE ANNUNCIATION. Continue to ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH, built over a cave known as St. Joseph’s Workshop, and pass by Mary’s Well and the Church of the Angel Gabriel. Next, travel on to Cana, site of the first miracle, where Jesus changed water to wine at a wedding (John 2:1-12). Due to this, many couples renew their wedding vows at this sacred place. Also see an ancient fisherman’s boat said to be from the time of Christ. Arrive at the Kibbutz with time to relax before dinner. This evening you are invited for a LECTURE ON KIBBUTZ LIFE. (B,D)
Day #4 Kibbutz–Mount of Beatitudes–Tabgha–Capernaum–Sea of Galilee–Bet She’an–Jerusalem. Heading towards the Sea of Galilee, visit the MOUNT OF BEATITUDES, where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount. Next, visit the CHURCH OF THE MULTIPLICATION OF LOAVES AND FISHES at Tabgha as well as the CHURCH OF ST. PETER’S PRIMACY, where Jesus instructed Peter “to feed my lambs and tend my sheep” (John 21:15-19). At this place, warm springs used to flow into the sea, attracting fish, which is why Peter came here to earn a living. On to CAPERNAUM, where Jesus recruited his first followers among the fishermen. Afterwards, enjoy a 45-minute CRUISE on the Sea of Galilee. Via the ruins of Kursi, which memorialize two of Jesus’ miracles, arrive at the Jordan River and visit a BAPTISMAL SITE. Then, visit the ancient city of Bet She’an with its fine ROMAN and BYZANTINE RELICS. The city is located at the foot of Mount Gilboa, where King Saul and his son died by their own hands in battle with the Philistines. On the way to Jerusalem, stop for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Holy City, considered one of the oldest places in the world with a history dating back as far as 4000 BC. (B,D)
Day #5 Jerusalem. Excursion to Ein Karem, Bethlehem and The Garden Tomb. This morning, drive to Ein Karem and visit the CHURCH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST and the CHURCH OF VISITATION, said to be built over the home of John the Baptist’s parents. Enjoy a beautiful view of the valley and the surrounding wooded hills. Continue to Bethlehem and see Shepherd’s Field, where the angels announced the birth of Jesus. Next, visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, which stands on the site where Jesus was born. On the way back to Jerusalem, visit the GARDEN TOMB, where you will enjoy the scenery of the beautiful holy garden. Tonight, perhaps an optional Israeli folklore show with dinner? (B)
Day #6 Jerusalem. Excursion to The Old City. After a panoramic view from the MOUNT OF OLIVES over the old and modern parts of the city, start your guided walking tour. Via the Chapel of Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, arrive at the GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE. Here, see the Rock of Agony, where Jesus prayed his last prayer before his arrest. Nearby are the Cave of the Assumption of Mary and the Cave of Betrayal. Follow the VIA DOLOROSA, the Way of the Cross, to Golgotha, and visit the CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE. Erected over the site of the crucifixion, this church is shared by six Christian communities. Walk past the Temple Mount, from where you can see the Dome of the Rock, a splendid mosque on the holy mount. On to the WAILING WALL, the most holy shrine in the Jewish religion. Then, stroll through the restored Jewish Quarter to MOUNT ZION and visit the UPPER ROOM, the TOMB OF KING DAVID, and the HOUSE OF CAIAPHAS, where Jesus was kept the night after he was arrested. (B,D)
Day #7 Jerusalem. Excursion to Masada and The Dead Sea. Drive through the Judean wilderness to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the Earth. Enjoy the scenery as you follow the road between the salty water and majestic desert mountains. Catch glimpses of the Caves of Qumran, where the precious Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Ascend by cable car to the spectacular clifftop FORTRESS of Masada, and hear how 960 Jewish zealots preferred death at their own hands to the indignity of surrender to overwhelming Roman forces. Around lunchtime, reach one of the comfortable Dead Sea resorts. You will have plenty of time here to experience the feeling of buoyancy in the heavy water. Then, back to Jerusalem. (B,D)
Day #8 At Leisure in Jerusalem. A full day at leisure with time to attend a Mass or service in one of Jerusalem’s churches. Later, maybe join an optional excursion featuring the synagogue of Hadassah Hospital with its famous Chagall windows, representing the 12 sons of the Patriarch Jacob, who formed the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Continue to the Israel Museum with the Shrine of the Book and the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Bible in the world, and the model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period. Also visit the famous Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem. (B)
Day #9 Jerusalem–Valley of Elah–Latrun–Jaffa–Tel Aviv. Take the scenic winding road through Wadi Sorek towards the ancient land of the Philistines. In the Valley of Elah, stop at the site of David’s victory over the Philistine champion, Goliath, and hear about this biblical event (Samuel 17:1-58). Later, refresh your memory with the tale of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:1-20) as you proceed through the land of the Dan tribe to the wide Valley of Ayalon. At strategic Latrun you visit the MONASTERY OF THE TRAPPIST MONKS. Then, stop near the ruins of the basilica that is said to be the site of EMMAUS, where Jesus manifested himself to two of his disciples (Luke 24:13-35). Continue along the Mediterranean shore and stop in Jaffa for a walk through the beautifully restored ancient port, where medieval pilgrims started their strenuous 2-day trek to Jerusalem. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with your traveling companions of an unforgettable journey through the Holy Land. (B,D)
Day #10 Tel Aviv. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)