In Tiberias, Every Church Tells a Story
Tiberias is one of Israel's most unique cities. Located on the western shore of the Sea of the Galilee, where Jesus Walking on Water and other miracles took place, the city and its surrounding area are of special Christian significance. While the city is not mentioned in the Gospels as a place visited by Jesus Himself, a trip to the three historical churches built in Tiberias is highly recommended. Though not as high-profile as other holy sites in the area, each of these churches tells a unique historical tale about Christianity in the Holy Land through the ages.
Church & Monastery of The Apostles
Located south of the Moriah Plaza Hotel, this site was originally a Byzantine monastery. It was destroyed by the Persians in the 7th century, and since then has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, a testament to the hardships that Christian believers had to endure in the Holy Land's turbulent history. Today, the site serves as a Greek Orthodox church and monastery, with four impressive chapels devoted St. Peter, the disciples, Mary Magdalene, and St. Nicholas.
St. Peter's Church
One of the city's major Christian sites, this church was built in the 12th century during the Crusades near the Sea of the Galilee (where Jesus miraculous catch of fish, which Peter had witnessed, took place). When Tiberias was conquered by the Muslims after the Battle of Hattin in 1187, the site was converted into a mosque. In the 18th century, members of the Franciscan order have bought and restored the church. Among the many impressive sights are the design church's apse which resembles a ship, and an exact replica of Arnolfo di Cambio's statue of St. Peter from St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
St. Peter's Church in Tiberias. Image source: Wikipedia
The Scottish Compound
The most modern among all of the city's churches, this compound is a former Scottish colony, established in the 19th century. It is the place where David Watt Torrance, a young Scottish doctor who believed his mission to be the healing of people in the Holy Land, had established Tiberias' first hospital in 1894, treating Christian, Jewish and Muslim patients alike. Today, the compound hosts a hotel and a church. The church is a small but beautiful structure with a well-attended garden. Concerts are occasionally held in the church.
Each of the three churches in Tiberias tells a different story about Christianity in the Holy Land – during the times of the Byzantine Empire, the Crusades, and the 19th century colonization. But all of them represent the strong link between the city and Christian faith.