Israel preps for pilgrims, pope’s visit


In preparation for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Israel this May, the picturesque 40-mile ‘Pilgrim’s Route’ has been revamped, complete with brand-new trails and signs to help guide travelers along the path Jesus walked more than 2,000 years ago.

Beginning in Nazareth and winding through Cana, the Arbel Cliffs, Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes, Tiberias and the Jordan River, travelers on the Pilgrim’s Route can see the wild oats, thistles and beautifully cultivated fields believed to be from the New Testament story of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. Also, pilgrims can climb to Sepphoris (modern-day Zippori), near Nazareth, to re-live Jesus’ image of the “city on a hill.”

“With the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel in May, we are adding special enhancements to Christian holy sites to accommodate the influx of Christian pilgrims expected to visit,” says Arie Sommer, Tourism Commissioner for Israel, North and South America. “The newly designed Pilgrim’s Route will serve as an exciting attraction and provide additional inspiration for Christian visitors.”

Free guided tours of the Pilgrims’ Route will run every Monday through Saturday at 8:00 a.m. from the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The tour includes an 11-mile hike through the Roman ruins, Crusader fortress and Byzantine mosaics at Zippori National Park and Cana, the traditional site of Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine.

Israel will also launch a brand-new website on April 15th with information and a full itinerary of the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land.