The city of Tiberias was first established on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee during Roman rule, named after Emperor Tiberius. It is considered to be one of the four holiest Jewish cities in Israel. This is because after the Jews lost Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed, Tiberias became the center of Jewish life. It was the location from which many of the Jewish books of law (like the Mishna and Talmud) were written. Today, graves of the Rambam and his colleagues can be found within the city limits.
Tiberias’ first Biblical mention can be found in the Book of Joshua, as a place then named Rakkat. The New Testament has only a few references to Jesus visiting the city of Tiberias, despite His ministry in the area and its role as the capital of the Galilee at the time. However, during Jesus' lifetime, the city of Tiberias was under primarily Roman rule and had a very minimal Jewish presence; for that reason, He had little reason to visit. In ancient times, the Kinneret was referred to as the “Sea of Tiberias,” another name for the Sea of Galilee over which the city looks out. Despite the city's minimal connection the Jesus Himself, but given the Galilee’s importance for those walking in the Footsteps of Jesus, Tiberias is an important stop for Christian tour groups given its proximity to Capernaum, Tabgha, the Mount of Beatitudes and the Sea of Galilee.
When in Tiberias, many Christians pay special attention to St. Peter’s Church, a 900 year old structure built on top of a Crusader church. The local Greek Orthodox Church and monastery also draw many pilgrim visitors. Other sites often visited in and around Tiberias are connected mainly to the Roman period and the Old Testament. Hammat Tiberias was once a Canaanite city famous for its ability to heal with natural hot springs located just outside the city gates (and still open for use today); 5th century synagogues and Turkish baths from the Ottoman period have both been excavated there. Tiberias' Roman Theater and the Southern Gate – complete with towers, sewage system and city walls – have both been uncovered from this significant period of the city’s history and establishment.
It is important to note that due to the many miracles that Jesus performed in the vicinity of Tiberias, there are a number of Christian guest houses within the city limits. For information about Hotels in Tiberias, visit BookingIsrael.com's Tiberias Hotels section.