Tiberias was founded around 20 CE by the Roman nominated king Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great in the name of his benefactor Tiberius Caesar.
According to John 6:30, the city was one of the important fishing ports in the Sea of Tiberius in the 1st C CE.
In the 3nd C CE it was one of the important religious cities in the Holy Land where the Jerusalem Talmud was composed.
During the 1st Crusade, Tiberias fell to the crusaders after the conquest of Jerusalem. The city was given in fief to Tancred, who made it his capital of the Principality of Galilee in The Kingdom of Jerusalem.
St. Peter’s Church, built by the crusaders, is still standing today, although the building has been reconstructed over the years by the Franciscans in 1870.
In 1187 Saladin‘s forces left Nimrod Fortress to engage the the Knights Templar. The Templar force was destroyed in the encounter. Saladin then besieged Tiberias; after 6 days the town fell.
On July 4, 1187 Saladin defeated the crusaders rushing to re-take Tiberias at the Battle of Hattin.
During the 3rd Crusade, the crusaders drove the Muslims out of the city and reoccupied it.
In 1265 the city was conquered from the crusaders by Baibars, the Mamluk warlord, who ruled Tiberias until the Ottoman conquest in 1516.
In 1558 Doña Gracia, a Portuguese exiled banker was granted tax collecting rights in Tiberias and its surrounding villages by Suleiman the Magnificent. She contemplated rebuilding the town as a refuge for Jews expelled in 1492 from Spain by Ferdinand & Isabella and in 1496 by Manuel I from Portugal by obtained a permit from the Sultan to establish Jewish autonomy there. She passed away before it materialized.
In 1561 her nephew Joseph Nasi, Lord of Tiberias, encouraged these exiled Jews to settle in Tiberias. He also failed.
Since the 16th century, Tiberias has been considered one of Judaism‘s 4 Holy Cities, along Jerusalem Hebron and Safed.
The modern city of Tiberias is located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee 200 m. below sea level. Today the city offers a variety of attractions with many luxury hotels and hostels. There are many beaches, restaurants, spas, water sports and parks.
The city is an excellent place to stay if you are touring the northern parts of the Holy Land.
By bus, taxi or guided tour