The Kineret has attracted people for thousands of years, offering both a source of water and a livelihood. History has rendered both the Kineret area and Tiberias itself important to both Christians and Jews. Herod Antipas founded the city in 17-22 C.E., naming it after his patron, the Roman Emperor Tiberius. In the second through tenth centuries, Tiberias was the largest Jewish city in the Galilee, the Jewish people's political and religious hub, as well as the centre of Jewish spiritual creativity.
A few years after its establishment, around 30 C.E., Jesus Christ moved his base of activities to the northern shore of Lake Kineret, where several well-known miracles took place including walking on the waters of the lake. As Christianity took hold, many churches were built in Tiberias and its surroundings.
Tiberias has been continuously inhabited and various buildings and ruins from various periods are well-preserved. In the Old City, built during the Crusades and the Ottoman Empire, a number of early sites are visible, including Daher El-Amar's 18th century fortress, a Jewish ritual bath, the black basalt remnants of the city wall, and the Church of St. Peter. Today's church was constructed on the ruins of a Crusader church that had one nave and narrow windows similar to portholes representative of the hull of an overturned boat. The modern church centers on artwork symbolizing the four Gospels under an inscription of Jesus's words to Peter "Be shepherd of my flock.” The stained glass windows depict fish and holy figures, while the rear courtyard houses a copy of a statue of Peter brought to Tiberias from Rome in 1833.
Many churches were also built outside the walls of the Old City. Concerts are occasionally held in the modest basalt Church of Scotland, founded by Dr. David Watt Torrance – also the founder of Tiberias's first hospital, or in its lush gardens on the shore. Across the way is the Scots Hotel, serving Christian pilgrims visiting the area.
At the southern end of the promenade is a Greek Orthodox church and monastery, including three houses of prayer and a wall of religious icons.
The nearby Mount Berenice offers not only a spectacular view, but the impressive ruins of Anchor Church – named for the heavy anchor found at the center of the stone altar. No less famous, is the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus named his twelve apostles.
North of Tiberias, close to Lake Kineret, is the YMCA facility including a small church with a panoramic view of Lake Kineret. YMCA also offers an enchanting private beach and guest rooms.
South of Tiberias is Yardenit, the site traditionally recognized by Christianity as the place Jesus was baptized. The site attracts thousands of believers who dip in the waters.
Alongside the Christian holy sites, Tiberias is dotted with the burial sites of Jewish sages, making it one of Israel's holy cities. Pilgrims flock to the tombs of Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakai, Rabbi Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakai and the tomb of the great philosopher and sage Maimonides. Many come to his grave to pray for livelihood, a partner and even fertility.
Tiberias is attractive all around the year, with natural beauty, pastoral beaches and a variety of activities in the city and its surroundings.