The Bible, although a religious book, is also perhaps, one of the original historical treatise and a travel guide to the Land of Canaan including Israel. When we visited Israel, we had the opportunity to explore some of the Biblical cities, ports and places that still exist and charm us travelers and the pilgrims alike , even today
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Jaffa or Joppa or Yafo
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. ACTS 9:36
Jaffa, originally known as Joppa, is said to be from the name of Iopeia mother of the beautiful Andromeda (Greek Mythology). We stand looking at the spot purported to be the place where Andromeda was chained to the rock.
The story played back in mind and I almost saw Perseus in his Pegasus swooping down to rescue Andromeda. So even Greek Mythology seems to have played out here.
Several biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter is associated with the port city of Jaffa. It has been more or less continuously inhabited for over 9000 years and probably known as Jaffa for 4000 years During the biblical times, this port was used to import construction materials, including cedar from Lebanon to build Solomon’s temple. After this was destroyed a second temple was built at the same place, again Jaffa port was used to ferry the materials. The second temple was extant during the time of Christ.
The location of the temple is believed to be Temple Mount where the Dome of rock is situated in Jerusalem, which is about 65KM from Jaffa. The Dome of rock is a Muslim shrine and Jews are not allowed inside. Hence Jews pray outside the western wall of the compound of this temple.
Back to Jaffa! During the time of St Peter, he is said to have brought back Tabitha (See the bible quote above) to life in Jaffa.
We can see that this port was most used for centuries as the gateway of economy. When we saw the Jaffa from our hotel in the dawn, knowing the above story, it had a strange look to it.
Caesaria Maritima (Caesarea by the sea)
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household. ACTS (10:1)
The city of Caesarea, located about 50 KM north of Jaffa, was one of the most important cities during Christ and a few centuries after too.
The magnificent little city was the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. Augustus sent Herod the great to oversee the construction of the city and the port at the same place as the Phoenician city of Strato’s Tower. What Herod created was an architectural wonder spread over more than 100 acres. There was a big amphitheatre and a hippodrome for entertainment. We are told that the horse races are held in the hippodrome to re-enact the era.
On one side lies the long Aqueduct to bring water from the nearby Mount Carmel. It is said the labourers cut a 6 KM channel through the rocks of Mt. Carmel to the spring and built another 6KM long Aqueduct to get the water to the city. The city was protected by a moat and wall. We saw a movie that showed the humungous effort by the Romans and the locals to build this city.
Also inside the city walls, on top of a rock, was the house of the Roman prefect of the province of Judaea, Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate would later gain notoriety for his actions in the New Testament. We saw the replica of the stone artifact bearing his name.
The imposing amphitheater still stands the test of time and as witness to the millenniums gone by.
Akko or Acco or Ptolemais or Acre
Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob. JUDGES 1:31
This quote refers to the tribe of Ashers who failed to hold the city of Acco.
Acco, located about 60 km north Caesarea, was later conquered by the Crusaders in 1104 AD and displaced Jaffa as the biggest port. The city fell again and rebuilt again. The excavations show the intricate labyrinth of tunnels still in existence. It was a strange feeling when we walked through the tunnel that was once used thousand years ago by the crusaders. In fact most of the old town of Acco is still buried under and cannot be excavated as it is believed the new city will cave under if any more explorations are undertaken.
It was also again a strange feeling to be sharing the same ground on which Gen Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Military and political leader and also the defence minister during the 6 day war. You see, Moshe Dayan was held a prisoner here in 1939 by Jordanian forces!
Sea of Galilee or Lake Tiberias or Kinneret
And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. MATTHEW 14:25
Sea of Galilee is not a sea but a large freshwater lake. It is located 180 km north of Jerusalem and is about 200 Metres below sea level. In the ancient times there were, according to legends 16 ports for use by travellers, traders and fishermen. This is where Christ is credited to have performed several miracle including walking on water. (See quote above)
It is here, where He appointed four of his apostles. In the bible it says “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”. The place where Jesus was baptised is just south of Sea of Galilee on the banks of River Jordan.
Now the Sea of Galilee’s shoreline has changed considerably because of tourism and the natural coastline has been changed to manmade water fronts and walkways. Now only few ports that are still being used and mostly by tourists, pilgrims and fishermen.
Readers, do let us know if you know of any more biblical cities and ports that still exist in Israel.
Useful Information on Biblical Ports and Places in Israel
Guided tours in Israel
Where to stay in Israel
Hotels in Israel. Book your hotel now!
More Stories on Israel for You
- Hitchhiking in Turbulent Israel
- A complete guide for a 2 Days in Jerusalem Itinerary.
- Yoga in Israel
- Yemenite Art in Israel
- Our First Impression of Israel
- The baptismal site, the Jordan River bank where Jesus was Baptised!
- Exploring the Pastoral beauty of Tiberias
- Celebrating Yoga Day
- An enjoyable jaunt around Jaffa
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Note: Updated with fresh content on 12-Oct-2020
Very interesting post and awesome pics.
Rekha, Thanks for stopping by.
Great, Beautiful photos.
Rupam, Thanks a lot. Hope you liked the article too.
awesome shots and informative post, very nice read.
Lucky to have seen places of historical importance.
Yes 🙂 Also I had done some homework before going there and that made the visit all the more interesting.
Akko seems amazing. I know I would love it. And your pictures are making me want to go there now.
Absolutely. The underground fort area is so complex. However only some parts are for public.
The underground fort looks fascinating!
Thanks Rashmi, for stopping by. Yes it is incredible , to say the least.
The picture of Sea of Galilee has a mystical look in it! Loved reading this post filled with loads of information! 🙂
Thanks Suma. I am told it always gets cloudy and windy every day.
Let there be light! That photo actually resonates with the image of place. 🙂
Fabulous pics. Akko looks like a scene out of a medieval movie. Interesting to see signs of Hindi. A lot of my catholic friends have done a tour here, it is called the Holy land tour. Very interesting post.
Thanks Divyakshi. Yes the biblical pilgrimages are quite popular and people from all over the world may be seen here.
I study art history and Jaffa is a place that was painted often. Never thought of visiting it in real life. So cool that you did. Thanks for sharing!
Wow! It is quite picturesque. I do hope you go there sometime and paint.
This is just WOW. Loved the pics but the thing I loved the most is the writing part – highlighting of mythological side of the places. Thanks, Nisha, for the wonderful post. 🙂
Thanks Ravish. The visit was more interesting because we had done some research before going.
Interesting way to plan a journey there. The biblical stops I’m sure are rather abundant in that region.
Thanks. I agree. In every direction you have something right of the Book.
We are not religious but we are really interested and appreciate the rich history, art and culture of this area. The underground fort of Akko looks fascinating.
Neither are we! But the region is steeped in Jewish, Christian and Islamic history. Thanks for stopping by.
I’ve always wanted to visit Israel and explore these amazing historical sites. The amphitheatre in Caesarea looks beautiful and Akko appears to also be a hit looking at the previous comments above. Thanks for the info!
Thanks Guy. I sure hope you are able to visit these places. They are incredible!
I think Israel has more history per sq mt than any other place in the world.. and to think of it we have just scratched the surface…
Prasad, I agree. It is steeped in the history of three monotheistic religions of this world. I am sure scratching the surface is right way to put it. If one is interested in Religious history, one can spend a lifetime here.
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know the Bible well enough to know all of the background of these places, but I’d love to visit and learn nonetheless. The history fascinates me, and I’d love to get to Israel in 2017.
Neither do we:) However we did some research before going and that made it very interesting. I do hope you visit it this year.
Israel has so much history – it’s fascinating to read about and would be even better to visit. Thank you for inspiring me to visit somewhere I would never have thought of!
Thanks. Like Prasad said here, this is just scratching the surface. We have written more articles on Israel in our blog which you may be interested in.
I know so very little about these aspects of Israel. This article was definitely a learning experience for me. The history in this city is exceptional though and would be a key reason for visiting.
Thanks Kerri. Yes I agree. One would say there is too much history , both ancient and modern 😉
I did not realize all the history associated with ports in Israel. I always think of more land-based religious areas.
Exactly, thats what we thought before we started research for our visit to Israel. In fact we hope to trace the Greek Mythology along and in the Mediterranean some day.
Wow so fascinating. Beautiful photos. I never knew all the history to do with the ports. We know so little about Israel. We would love to go there one day and learn more about the country and it’s history. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Alesha. I do hope you visit it. In fact there is more to it than these ports too. You will find more posts in our blog, on Israel.
I am not a religious person at all, so I don’t know anything about the Bible, but you presented all this places in a very interesting way, which I think everyone should know about it, as this is part of the world history and heritage. I’ve been to Israel, and went to some of these places, but never looked at them in your perspective. Thanks for sharing this 😉
Neither are we. I just tried to put a biblical perspective to the ancient ports that were key to the economy of this region.
I hadn’t even heard of some of these places, but they look lovely from your photos. Israel is very high on my list of places to visit.
Thanks Arianwem. Hope you make it this year!
Israel really seems like a place to have a great spiritual experience, whether you’re religious or not. It was wonderful going through your journey with you and learning about why those specific places have so much religious significance.
If you are spiritual then this is a pilgrimage! For likes of this is a lesson right out of history, Legend and some mythology too, perhaps.
I would love to travel to Israel, and have the opportunity to explore some of the Biblical port cities. I’m no longer practicing Catholic, however Catholicism was a very big part of my childhood and school life so I’ve always been fascinated that it’s possible to visit the cities which shaped and gave way to the stories which in turn shaped our upbringing. It’s a little sad in a way to see that some of the ports are quite overrun with tourism and have been roped off etc with signs, but that’s to be expected in this day and age when you’ve got such a huge tourism boom … biblical tourism … that’s a term right!
We are not very religious too and we are not even catholics! Even though we are Hindus, one hears of so many stories from the bible and it was interesting for me to connect Bible to our visit to Israel. I am sure there are reference in other religious and history books as well about these ports. Ports are so important for the economy. Thanks for stopping by Meg.
it’s so good to learn about new places and history. Sea of Galilee and the christ walking over it is what I didn’t have an idea about. Lovely post.
Thanks Harish. I myself learnt a great deal from my visit to Israel.
What a great post! Just loved the cross you did between the passages and places referred to in the Bible and what they are today. Great idea! I’ve never been to Israel, but I believe history breathes in its streets.
We learnt a lot from this trip. Vasu is a history buff so that’s also a plus point to learn. 🙂