Ancient village discovered on the shore of the sea of Galilee

Excavations on the Sea of Galilee shore right at the bottom of Mount Arbel discover an ancient village.

  Hotel Magdala (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Hotel Magdala
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)

We all know that Israel is one of the best places in the world for archaeologists. In Israel, history hides under every meter of soil. That’s how in 2009 during work on the Sea of Galilee shore right at the bottom of Mount Arbel, an ancient village was discovered, amazingly only 30 cm. (about one foot) beneath the surface. 

Excavations uncovered an ancient fishing village and exposed it to the sun after a very long time in the darkness. Magdala was a thriving settlement in the Hellenistic period during the time of Jesus.

An active Jewish community was living in Magdala. The centerpiece of what is left of the town of Magdala is the remains of a magnificent synagogue that was excavated in 2009. Dating back 2,000 years, this is considered one of the oldest synagogues in Israel and the oldest in the Galilee. 

In addition, on the south of the archaeological site, four perfectly shaped mikvaot – Jewish purification baths – were miraculously found intact, close to the sea and Mount Arbel. Those mikvaot were fed by subterranean fresh water and are still functioning even today and are used on special occasions. 

Magdala is sacred also to the Christians because Maria Magdalena lived here and was a great loyal supporter of Jesus and the second person that received the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection along with Jesus’ mother. The site of Magdala, sacred to Jews and Christians, serves as a crossroads between the two religions.

In 2014, an impressive Christian center was built closer to the Sea of Galilee shore named Duc in Altum. It celebrates the public life of Jesus.

In this inspiring building, visit the women’s atrium in honor of women of faith over the years. Also in the building, is the boat chapel that commemorates Jesus’ preaching from the boat to his believers. Four beautiful mosaics adorn smaller prayer chapels that depict biblical events along the Sea of Galilee.

After exposing all of these archaeological treasures in 2019, Hotel Magdala opened adjacent to the site. This newly built hotel attracts thousands of Christian pilgrims who come to tour the major Christian religious sites spread around the Galilee like Capernaum and Yardenit.

This conveniently located hotel sits alongside the archaeological site and can be viewed from inside the hotel or explored along with Duc in Altum on the grounds around the hotel.

The hotel welcomes Israelis who seek a special overnight experience and the opportunity to explore the past and present on the Sea of Galilee. In the near future, a visitor center and a restaurant will open on the compound to make this site even more comprehensive and attractive.