Welcome to Mount Tabor a place of deep religious significance for Christians as the site of the Transfiguration, this site is visited by millions of pilgrims each year. Mount Tabor is located in Lower Galilee at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 18 kilometres (11 mi) west of the Sea of Galilee. The first churches on the mountain were built in the 4th century and today the various Christian churches and sites on the mountain are top of most pilgrim's things to do list while staying in and exploring the area around the Sea of Galilee.

Mount Tabor is shaped almost like half a sphere, suddenly rising from rather flat surroundings and reaching a height of 575 metres (1,886 feet), thus dominating by a good 450 metres the town in the plain below, Kfar Tavor. At the top of the mountain are two Christian monasteries, one Greek Orthodox on the northeast side and one Roman Catholic on the southeast side. The Catholic church at the top is easily visible from afar. Pilgrims are usually dropped off at the base of the mountain by coach where a fleet of taxis are waiting to whizz them up to the top at great speed - then back down again at speed!


Church of the Transfiguration

Aerial view of the Church of Transfiguration at the summit, which is divided into Eastern Orthodox (northeast) and Roman Catholic (southeast) areas

Between 1919 and 1924 a Roman Catholic church of the Franciscan order named "Church of the Transfiguration" was built on the peak of Mount Tabor. The architect who designed the church was Antonio Barluzzi. The church was built upon the ruins of a Byzantine church from the fifth or sixth century and a Crusader church from the 12th century. In the upper part of the church, above the altar, is a mosaic which depicts the Transfiguration. On the Feast of the Transfiguration, celebrated on August 6, it is illuminated by sunbeams which are reflected by a glass plate on the floor of the church. A rock near the entrance of the church has an engraving in ancient Greek and beside it there is an engraving of a cross. Nearby there are the remains of the 12th-century Benedictine abbey.


Greek Orthodox monastery

Bell tower of the Eastern Orthodox monastery

The main church of the Greek Orthodox monastery is dedicated to the Transfiguration. The construction was started by a Romanian monk, Irinarh Rosetti, in 1859, the year of his death, and finished by his disciple, Nectarie Banul, in 1862. Northeast of the Church of the Transfiguration is the Church of the Prophet Elijah.

Northwest of the main church is a small cave-church named after Melchizedek, the King of Salem. According to the Christian tradition, this cave was the place where Abraham met the king of Salem. The cave was known to pilgrims and local Christians during the Middle Ages. An all-night vigil is held at the church every year on the Orthodox Feast of the Transfiguration on August 19 (which corresponds to August 6 according to the Julian Calendar).

Time for you to move on to Nazareth - the finishing point of our journey. However, remember to come back to Mt Tabor soon!