Mt of Beatitudes.
(photo credit: BiblePlaces.com)
Wayne Stiles is an author who has never recovered from his travels in Israel-and loves to write about them from his desk in Texas.
The hills surrounding the Sea of Galilee frame the lake like a portrait.
spring, the hillsides burst with wildflowers, fresh grass, and
spectacular color. The tranquil slopes tower above fruit crops and
fertile fields that stretch across the lush Plain of Gennesaret.
Regardless of how often I visit the Kinneret, and no matter where I
stand to view the picture, the subject seems to be smiling. The view
never gets old.
Numerous places around the lake offer
splendid panoramas. The best view, by far, is atop Mount Arbel. Windy
and requiring a walk, the vast landscape stuns every first-timer.
Another grand vista is the view from Kfar Haruv on the eastern side—I
can see the whole lake from tip to tip. Impressive, for sure.
But the picturesque view from the Mount of Beatitudes offers visitors more than simply something to see.
the northwestern shoreline, the ruins from a small, fourth-century
chapel cover a rock-cut cistern. Called the Church of the Sermon on the
Mount, its deteriorated crumblings lay to the north of a small
At the top of the slope, once called Mount
Eremos, a modern church towers over the crumbling one it has replaced
below. Driving up the incline requires a few hairpin turns that snake
back and forth beside the valley. Once on top, the road curves east and
rewards the traveler with a marvelous view of the church that gazes out
over thirteen miles of water.
Franciscan sisters built
the beautiful chapel in 1938 with the support of Mussolini. Designed by
Antonio Barluzzi, the church supports a cross with a stained dome that
towers over its structure made of gray cinderblocks. The building’s
eight sides commemorate the eight “beatitudes” that began Jesus’
celebrated sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:3-10). The Mount of Beatitudes
marks the traditional location of the sermon.
Thick Saint Augustine grass spreads out below numerous palm trees and
surrounds colorful flowerbeds. Tidy gardens descend to a small,
covered, semicircular sitting area that overlooks the lake. It’s a great
place to sit, read, pray—or just enjoy the view. The
hillside below the church would have provided plenty of space for a
large crowd. And the view? Stunning. In fact, Jesus drew upon the
splendor of the verdant slopes to illustrate a point in his sermon:
“Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they
spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed
himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field,
which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will he
not much more clothe you?” (Matthew 6:28–31).
the view from the Mount of Beatitudes provides a beautiful portrait of
the Sea of Galilee. But it offers even more. The lovely surroundings
afford each visitor a tranquil place to meditate on the truths that were
taught there. Away from the noise of traffic and the distractions of
everyday life, there is still the beauty that illustrates truth.
than simply a picturesque view of the lake, the place offers a
perspective on living. That’s seeing a lot further than thirteen miles.
What to Do There:
Stroll through the
gardens, and take time to smell the roses (literally). Walk down to the
sitting area and gaze out across the lake for as long as you can. Read
Matthew chapters 5-7.
How to Get There:
From Tiberias, take Route 90 north and continue past the Kfar Nahum Junction. Turn right on 8177 to the church.Read Wayne’s blog and subscribe to his weekly Podcast at www.waynestiles.com.