A new project launched by Jews and Christians in the Holy Land offers pilgrims the chance to walk the land of the Bible, in the footsteps of Jesus, and experience the places where he lived and ministered.
“This is a unique opportunity” to connect with “the beginning of Christianity,” project manager Amir Moran told CNA in Nazareth recently.
The “Gospel Trail,” which has been open to the public since November of last year, follows historical paths that Jesus took when he left his childhood home of Nazareth and began his ministry around Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee.
“When you walk on these trails with these sites and these landscapes you feel just like” the disciples, Moran said, noting that the initiative officially launched at a Nov. 29 ceremony held by local Church leaders.
The project manager, who is Jewish, said the idea for the trail came to him about 10 years ago. Over the course of three treks along the Christian pilgrimage route the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), Moran felt even more of an impetus to create the trail.
“When I was in Spain,” he recalled, “I talked with the travelers, with many of them, and I asked, ‘What do you think about such a trail in the Holy Land?’”
Although Moran said the response was unanimously enthusiastic, he remembered most people questioning whether or not they would be safe.
In making the trail, “we put a lot of effort into making people feel comfortable,” he emphasized. “Generally, it’s a very quiet area. There’s no danger; there’s no terrorism; it’s not in the news.”
The trail includes more than 35 miles of well-marked footpaths and roads that can be traveled by walking, driving or bicycling.
The primary route begins at Mount Precipice, mentioned in Luke 4:28-30, which recounts the people of Nazareth attempting to drive Christ off a cliff in response to his teachings. This route also winds through the Jezreel Valley, passes through the Beit Qeshet Oak Reserve, and skirts the cliffs of 1,000-foot-tall cliffs of Arbel Mountain, before going by Magdala, Tabgha and Capernaum.
A secondary route includes Mount Tabor and the Church of the Transfiguration, the town of Cana, the extinct volcano Karnei Hattin (the Horns of Hattin), Mount Arbel and the Mount of Beatitudes.
Both routes culminate at the Sea of Galilee. A special dock on the shoreline was also created to provide areas for prayer and inspirational solitude.
Overall, the project has been “a great joy” from start to finish, Moran said, urging those interested to look into visiting.
For more information, visit: http://www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Tourist%20Information/Christian%20Themes/Pages/The%20Gospel%20Trail.aspx