1 Driving through the West Bank on our way to the Sea of Galilee - The land is very arid, but quite majestic.
2 Our first stop was the ancient Roman city of Scythopolis, known in Hebrew as Bet She'an.
3 This is a model of what the Roman city of Scythopolis would have looked like based on archaeological discovery. Note the large circular structures - a theater, administrative buildings, and a coliseum.
4 Here are the ruins of the city today. On the right side of the photo is the main commercial avenue of the city.
5 Bet She'an is in northern Israel, just 17-miles south of the Sea of Galilee, at the strategic junction of the Harod, Jezreel, and Jordan Valleys.
6 This area of Israel is very lush with natural irrigation - part of what is known as the 'Fertile Crescent'. The Beit She'an Valley has been inhabited since antiquity and is mentioned several times in the Bible.
7 This is a look at the visitor center in Bet She'an - obviously not a Roman ruin!
8 There is so much beautiful detail on walls and column heads. The Romans were excellent masons.
9 More detail. It's astonishing to think that this stone was carved two millennia ago!
10 A larger look at the detail.
11 You can see how much of the fine detail has been worn away by time and the elements.
12 There is such a beautiful contrast of color among the stones in the ruins.
13 A wonderful carved face
14 We walked through the colonnade of a most impressive theater.
15 The theater had about 7,000 seats divided in three seating areas and was evidently three times as tall in its day.
16 This is the best-preserved ancient theatre discovered in Israel. It was built at the end of the second century CE on the remains of a first-century theatre.
17 Chris took a photo of our group sitting high in the seats of the theater.
18 And I took a photo of Chris walking the floor of the theater.
19 Today, visitors of the theater have a view of the tell (biblical mound) and the city’s colonnaded thoroughfares, but in ancient times, walls shielded the audience from the distractions of the city streets.
20 A hallmark of Roman construction was solid masonry, which is why the ruins are still standing today.
21 Back in the car and headed toward Galilee - We were going to visit Bet Gabri'el, a cultural center and the site of several peace agreements, but it was closed!
22 A view of the Sea of Galilee, also called Lake Tiberias, from our car - This 14-mile long body of water sits below sea level.
23 Looking west across the Sea of Galilee at the city of Tiberias, one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed.
24 I was surprised to see the small size of the Jordan River. It feeds into the Sea of Galilee and then flows out again toward the Dead Sea.
25 Here is the sign marking the River Jordan in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
26 We visited the town of Capharnaum along the Sea of Galilee. Jesus made Capharnaum his home during the years of his ministry.
27 A modern statue in the garden at Capharnaum
28 A modern statue of St. Peter at Capharnaum
29 An ancient olive press - Olives and olive oil have always been vital in this part of the world!
30 A view of the ruins at Caphernaum.
31 A beautiful Corinthian capital on this column
32 This capital is in the shape of a shell
33 Another look at a stately Corinthian capital
34 And another
35 You can see ancient Hebrew written on this column - It says Alpheus the son of Zebidah the son of John made this column - May it be for him a blessing.
36 Another column with Latin inscriptions
37 A collection of capitals and other pieces of the ruins of Capharnaum
38 And more ancient ruins
39 This synagogue, in the ruins of Caphernaum, is from the 4th Century and is built upon the synagogue from Jesus’ days.
40 Inside the 4th century marble synagogue - it was blisteringly hot.
41 An inscription in Latin inside the 4th century synagogue
42 And an inscription in Greek inside the synagogue. Greek was the lingua franca, or common language, in the region during ancient times.
43 Another capital inside the synagogue
44 Here I am in the shade of a column in the synagogue.
45 More of the synagogue
46 These are excavations from the Jewish village of Capharnaum dating back to the times of Jesus.
47 Another view of those ruins
48 It's believed that the ruins on the ground are the foundation of the house of the apostle Peter, over which a church was built in the 1980’s.
49 A view of the Sea of Galilee from Capharnaum
50 Another view of the Sea of Galilee. It’s amazing to consider that we were still below sea level here!
51 Posing by the sea
52 And Chris @chrisdherbert
53 And Daisy
54 After posing by the Sea of Galilee, we proceeded by driving up to Mount of Beatitudes, where, it's believed, Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount.
55 We visited the Roman Catholic Franciscan chapel that was built in 1938 at the top of the Mount.
56 Medieval music inside the church - a setting of the beatitudes starting with 'Blessed are the poor in spirit'
57 A stunning shot of the beautiful gold dome inside the chapel
58 Here I am on the Mount of Beatitudes.
59 This mount is a natural amphitheater, which makes it possible to believe that 5,000 people could hear Jesus when he delivered his Sermon on the Mount.
60 Leaving the Sea of Galilee - The terrain is quite hilly in this part of Israel.
61 On the way back to Jerusalem, we stopped at the Israeli Arab town of Abu Ghosh for a bite to eat. It is known as the 'Hummus capital of the Israel'. There were wonderful pickles and olives.
62 And excellent crispy falafel
63 Freshly baked pita bread
64 And a wonderful crunchy salad
65 The famous hummus was so amazing - So beautifully presented and utterly delicious!
66 Creamy tahini
67 A piquant harissa
68 Smoky and wonderful baba ganoush
69 These stuffed grape were some of the best I've ever had.
70 Pita with za’atar - yum!