Mount Arbel is a tall mountain with cutting cliffs that overlook the Sea of Galilee. It is located on the western side of the lake, 4 kilometers north of Tiberius and just above Magdala (the home of Mary Magdalene). The view from the Arbel cliffs is spectacular—it’s known as one of the best locations to look out over the Sea of Galilee and beyond. There are Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins around the mountain and its cliffs, and an exciting hiking trail from top to bottom.
View From Arbel Cliffs
The tallest point of the Arbel cliffs stands at 181 meters above sea level and 380 meters above its surroundings. The view from the peak is truly one-of-a-kind. On a clear day, the entire Sea of Galilee is visible along with its surrounding sites/villages such as Capernaum, Tabgah, Migdal, Kibbutz Ginosar, and the Horns of Hittin. The Golan Heights region is visible as well as Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain in Israel.
There are many natural caves in the Arbel cliffs. During the Second Temple Period, a group of Jewish people expanded these natural caves and made them into living areas. These cliff dwellings served as a place of refuge for Jews during the Hellenistic and Roman time periods.
A Jewish synagogue and settlement from the Byzantine period were discovered on the Arbel slopes. They were in use between the 4th and 8th centuries AD. An interesting phenomenon about this synagogue is that it is the only one in the world that faces north as opposed to towards Jerusalem, like all others. However, the Torah ark does open towards Jerusalem like other synagogues. Visitors can visit the ancient ruins and witness these orientations.
Mount Arbel is one of Israel’s national parks. It is a popular hiking destination with multiple trails for all levels of hikers. Sections of the Arbel hiking trails are included in the Israel National Trail and the Jesus Trail. One of the most popular trails descends a section of the cliffs that is less steep, leads hikers to the ancient Jewish cliff dwellings, and ends at the refreshing Arbel spring.