hike at the entrance to the Vered Hagalil horse ranch. Continue along the main
road eastward for a few hundred meters until you reach the fence around the
Domus Galilee seminary. Take the track on the left side of the road that leads
through the pine trees along the fence. Follow the track south, until it emerges
from the trees and you reach the fence around Vered Hagalil.
You are now
standing above a large valley, with a dirt road running down its center, the
Church of the Beatitudes in the far distance and the Sea of Galilee is below you. A
little way down the slope in front of you grow a few ancient Atlantic Pistachio
trees. Make your way carefully down the slope toward the trees. You will soon
discover that each one of them (and if you lift up your eyes you will see quite
a few more dotting the valley) grows out of a mound of stones. These are Chalcolithic graves;
these huge structures were left untouched by the inhabitants
of this area for thousands of years (hence the ancient trees). The Arabic name
for this area is "the woods of the blessed trees," an interesting referral
to the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount.
examining the ancient ruins, make your way down the slope to the track that runs
along the middle of the valley. The track runs along a high voltage electric
power line that is difficult to miss. The valley itself was the site of the
sermon that Pope Paul II delivered in September 2000 to thousands of people.
As you walk
through the valley, you will probably spot the small herd of gazelles that lives in
it, perhaps as they daintily run and jump away from you. The rocks are home to
colonies of rock rabbits (hyrax), which live under large piles of rocks. You
usually can spot the rabbits serving as lookouts as they stand guard on a high
rock above the colony. They warn the others of danger with a high-pitched whistle.
track, there are two possible ways to continue. One is to follow the track to the
northeast (left) until it reaches a junction with a track that leads east to a
prominent hill with a water tower standing at its top. From the hill, there is an
interesting view of Nahal Corazim and the ancient town of Corazim, which Jesus
knew well. From the water tower, make your way south along the ridge above the
valley and slowly descend the slope back into the valley.
who don't have the time (or energy) to walk up the hill, walk along the dirt
track along the high voltage power line to the same intersection that leads to
the hill. But this time, take the track to your right that leads directly down
the valley. This is an ancient track that was in use for generations. Along the
way, you pass some strange basalt stones with dozens of holes in regular lines carved
that you are following will eventually lead you to the road to the
Church of the Beatitudes. The entrance to the church is now through a new
parking lot to the east. After visiting the church, return to the approach
road to the church (outside the gate) and follow it south to its end. From here,
take the dirt track down the slope towards the Sea of Galilee.
will lead you to a small plateau overlooking the road around the Sea of Galilee.
This is called the Eremos Heights and was mentioned by a fourth century pilgrim
named Egiria as the site of the Sermon on the Mount. If you explore
the small plateau a little more carefully, you will discover a few basalt altars with inscriptions on them and, on the other side of the acacia tree
growing on the plateau, a few carved stones with an explanation of the Sermon on
the Mount and a carved face of Jesus peeking out of a nearby bush. A dozen or so flat stones stand upright in the grass
around the acacia. These are tombstones marking the graves of a Moslem cemetery.
A hiking path leads
main basalt altar on the plateau down the steep side of
the slope to a cave. The cave, which is called the Eremos Cave, has benches around its
walls and crosses carved into it. This, according to some, is the site of the
Sermon on the Mount. Follow the path to the bottom of the slope, cross
the road (very carefully), and walk down the pavement and steps on the other
side leading to the shore. At the beginning of the pavement, inside a round
structure, is the Spring of Job. (Walk to the other side of it to see
the spring!) The water is warm and local tradition places Job's attempts to
heal his leprosy here. Follow the steps to the shores of the lake. You will be
surprised to find a wonderful little waterfall hidden in the foliage. (The
waterfall is actually the end of a pipe leading the waters of the seven springs
of Tabgha to the lake.) In front of you is a little bay called the Cove of
Saint Peter. This is the end of the hike.