Hamat Tiberias


The city of Tiberias is located on the Western side of the sea of Galilee. The area was known to be a location of healing hot springs and beautiful landscapes. It is no surprise that the son of Herod the Great, Herod Antipas chose this place for finding a city here in 20 AD. The name given was that of his protector, Roman empire Tiberius.


Location: Map

Archeological Garden

Rehov ha- Banim

General information

Tiberias is one of the four holy cities for the Jews (Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias and Safed).

Every year, tens of thousands of people flock to Tiberias to visit national shrines: the tombs of Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon - Maimonides), Rabbi Johanan Ben-Zakkai and Rabbi Akiva.

Sights include the Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles, the ruins of a synagogue (6th century) in the hot springs area, and the remains of the ancient Jewish city of Hamat Tiberias (1st-4th century AD). Since 1955, on the basis of 17 local springs with a temperature of up to +63 ° C and therapeutic mud "Piloma", the balneological resort complex Hamei Tiberias has been operating. In the vicinity of the lake there are rest houses.

South of Tiberias, at the point where the Jordan River flows out of Lake Tiberias, is Yardenit, a traditional baptismal site in the waters of the river. To the north of Tiberias, on the northwestern shore of Lake Tiberias, is Capernaum (Kfar Nachum), where Jesus Christ lived and preached. The Franciscans purchased this site, excavated and explored the city, and also founded their monastery here. Not far from Capernaum, on a mountain, there is a Catholic monastery with a temple dedicated to the Beatitudes.


History of Tiberias

The city got its name from the name of the Roman emperor Tiberius. After the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem, it became the main Jewish spiritual center. According to the Talmud, the patriarch Jacob lived here.

According to Josephus, Tiberias was founded in 17 AD Herod Antipas and was named after the emperor Tiberius. The place for the city was chosen in the most beautiful part of the Galilee.

Herod Antipas made Tiberias his residence, for which he built a magnificent palace, a temple, an amphitheater and surrounded the city with a wall. There was another reason for the attractiveness of the city for the rulers of Galilee: a mountain stream with healing water flowed near the city. There were many ancient tombs in the vicinity, which were destroyed during construction (often houses were built right in their place), so the Jews considered the city unclean and were afraid to settle in it, so at first it had a completely Greek appearance. For the Jews Herod built a great synagogue; two generations later, rebellious meetings of the Galileans took place in its premises during the great war with Rome.

The archives of the province were transported to Tiberias along with the government residence; a fortress was built for the garrison, in the arsenals of which weapons for 70,000 soldiers were stored. For the next 50 years, Tiberias was the undisputed capital of Galilee and, with the exception of Caesarea, the most beautiful city in Judea. Nero gave it to Agrippa the Younger, who moved the capital from Tiberias to Sepphoris.

It is not known whether Jesus visited Tiberias, the Gospels do not mention this; it is only certain that he was in the vicinity of the city and the lake. Tiberias itself is mentioned twice in the Gospel (John 6:1, 23).

The Jews of Tiberias did not participate in the uprising of 70 CE. e., after the suppression of which the majority of the Jewish population of Judea was destroyed or expelled. After the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, and especially after the founding of Aelia Capitolina on the site of Jerusalem, the Jews of Jerusalem moved in large numbers to Galilee, inhabited its cities and founded the center of Jewry here. As a result, Tiberias became the only city in the Roman Empire with a Jewish majority. 13 synagogues were built in the city. The Sanhedrin of Tiberias becomes for the Jews the highest authority in religious matters; the highest Jewish academy, transferred here from Jerusalem, becomes the center of Jewish learning. In the yeshivas of Tiberias, those rulings were collected that form the Mishnah, the main part of the Talmud.

During this era, part of the Jerusalem Talmud was recorded in Tiberias. And in the city itself and in the district lived the Jewish sages of that time - Tanaim and Amoraim.

Middle Ages
Under Constantine the Great, the church was founded by a converted Jew, Joseph; Empress Elena erected a church with 12 thrones here. From 449 to 553 there was a bishopric here.

Emperor Justinian I surrounded Tiberias with strong walls. Under Caliph Omar (637), the city came under the rule of the Muslims.

In 1099, the crusaders captured Tiberias and the city became part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The bishopric was restored during the First Crusade. The population and architecture of the city has almost completely changed. The city has become an important administrative and military center. The Crusaders built castles and fortifications in Tiberias. In 1187, the crusaders were defeated by the army of Salah ad-Din near Karnei Hitin (near Tiberias). After the defeat of the crusaders, the city again fell under the rule of the Saracens and from 1247 was under their rule constantly. Destroyed Tiberias for a long time remained an insignificant city.

In later times, the city, called Tabariye, was built on the ruins of the former Tiberias; it was open from the side of the lake, and from all other sides it was surrounded by high walls and 20 black basalt towers.

In 1564, the Jewish philanthropist from Portugal, Beatriz de Luna (who took the name of Grazia Mendes Nasi), taking advantage of the favor of the Turkish Sultan Suleiman I, leased the city. The city was significantly rebuilt in the period 1564-1569. Grazia Nasi's nephew, Jean Mick, who became Joseph Nasi in Turkey, is considered by some sources to be the first Zionist. Back in 1561, he received a part of the city with suburbs as a gift and wanted to create a center of Jewish life there, that is, a place where the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal, as well as all the oppressed Jews of Germany, France and Poland, could come.


new time
In 1740, the Chief Rabbi of Izmir Chaim Abulafia moved to Tiberias. Since 1777, Hasidim began to settle in the city under the leadership of Rabbi Menachem Mendel from Vitebsk.

In 1811, Tiberias was nothing more than a village, in which there were about a hundred Jewish houses, 20 Christian and quite a few Muslim houses. I. L. Burckhardt counted up to 4,000 inhabitants here, of which half were Jews. In 1837 the city was destroyed by an earthquake; only part of the ancient fortress with walls of houses survived; many of the inhabitants then died.

In 1881-1882, the famous Russian artist Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, during his first trip to the Middle East and biblical places, visited Constantinople, Palestine, Syria and Egypt, from where he brought sketches and sketches for the large-scale canvas "Christ and the Sinner", as well as other paintings written in a new style of writing found on the trip. Probably, at the same time he painted the painting "The Yard in Tiberias". In 1888 he painted the painting "On the Lake of Tiberias (Genisaret)".

In 1596, according to the Ottoman registers, the population of Tiberias was 50 Muslim families and 4 bachelors. In 1780, about 4,000 people lived here, 2/3 of which were Jews. In 1842, the population was about 3,900 inhabitants, about a third of them Jews, a few Christians and 2/3 Muslims. In 1850 there were three Sephardic synagogues serving 80 families and another 100 Ashkenazi families. The Jews of Tiberias lived more quietly than the Jews of Safed. According to the registers, in 1863, 3/4 of the population of Tiberias were Christians and Muslims, who numbered from 2,000 to 4,000 people. Census data around 1887 report that approximately 3,640 people lived in Tiberias; 2025 Jews, 30 Latins, 215 Catholics, 15 Greek Catholics and 1355 Muslims.

Since the beginning of Jewish immigration to Palestine in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, the Jewish population of Tiberias has increased significantly. In 1901, 2000 of the 3600 inhabitants of Tiberias were Jews, by 1912 the city's population reached 6500, of which 4500 were Jews, 1600 were Muslims and 400 were Christians. According to the 1922 Palestine census conducted by the British authorities, 6950 people lived in Tiberias, of which 4427 Jews, 2096 Muslims, 422 Christians and five "others". According to the 1931 census, 5381 Jews lived in the city, which accounted for 63.9% of the total population; There were 2,645 Muslims, 565 Christians, and ten "others."

On October 2, 1938, a pogrom in the Kiryat Shmuel quarter killed 19 Jews, including 11 children.

During the Israeli War of Independence, the city became the scene of violent clashes between Arabs and Jews. Between April 8 and 9, 1948, sporadic skirmishes broke out between the Jewish and Arab regions. On April 10, the Haganah launched a mortar attack, killing several Arab residents. The local Arab committee refused the Arab Liberation Army's offer to take the city under its protection, but a small contingent of irregular Arab groups entered the city. During April 10-17, the Haganah launched an offensive against the city, refusing to negotiate a truce, and the British did not intervene. The Arab population (6,000 inhabitants or 47.5%) was evacuated under the protection of British military forces on April 18, 1948. The Jewish command did not order the evacuation, and she, apparently, came as a surprise to him.

Today Tiberias is one of the tourist centers of Israel. In 2005, income from foreign tourists in hotels in Tiberias increased by 118.3%.


Notable buildings

The Southern Wall
Byzantine emperor Justinian I (527- 565 AD) built these city walls for defence against raiders. Remains of city gates also have remained.

Crusader’s fortification
After the First Crusade captured the lands on the Western shore of the sea of Galilee they started building walls of their own castle to defend it against the Saracens. Their Citadels are still visible.

The Synagogue
Judging by archaeological digs there were several synagogues build here, one on top of the other from the first century till the 8th century AD. The mosaic floor that is well preserved here belong to the time of the Severus emperors that ruled Roman empire from 193 to 235 AD. Mosaic depicts among other things doors of the Jerusalem Temple, Zodiac and probably Jehovah or a Sun God similar to the findings at Beit Alpha synagogue which is peculiar if it is true. This particular synagogue was destroyed in the 5th century.