World Travels - Tiberias, Israel

Tiberias, Contrast of Old and New

Tiberias is the largest city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and it is holy to both Jews and Christians. It is one of the four Jewish holy cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Safad.

Tiberias was built in 17 CE by the son of Herod and it was named for Tiberias Caesar. At first, Jews didn't want to live in Tiberias because it was believed to be located on the site of an ancient cemetery. However, they did eventually move to Tiberias and, by the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, Tiberias had become the center of Jewish academic life.

Tiberias became an important Christian center by 636 CE. It remained a center of importance to Christianity for several centuries, but the city was destroyed in the 12th century during a battle between Muslims and Christians.

Several famous Jewish scholars are buried in and around Tiberias, including the Jewish philosopher, doctor and scholar Rabbi Moses Maimonides (the Rambam). He lived in Tiberias in the late 1100s and he died there in 1204.

Tomb of Rambam, Tiberias
Tomb of Rambam, Tiberias


The tomb of Rabbi Akiva (50-135 CE), one of the greatest Torah scholars in Jewish history, is also located in Tiberias.


Although Tiberias contains many ancient sites, it is also a modern city that serves as a resort area in the Galilee. In Tiberias, one can stand among ancient ruins while looking across the street at a modern hotel.
Old and modern Tiberias
Old and modern Tiberias

Copyright © 2013 Claire J Rottenberg