The Lower Galilee
The Galilee is the mountainous area in the north of Israel. Its southern border is at the bottom of the Mount Carmel-Mount Gilboa mountain ranges and it extends up to Israel’s northern border (although geographically up to the east-west section of the Litani River within Lebanon). In the west it extends from Israel’s coastal plain and in the east to the Jordan Rift Valley, including Lake Kinneret and the Hulah Valley. The Hula Valley and Ramot Naftali mountains in the Upper Galilee are often considered to be in the Galilee Panhandle.
Traditionally, the Galilee is divided into a northern Upper Galilee and a southern Lower Galilee, with the dividing line between the two being the Beit HaKerem Valley. The Jewish municipalities of Karmiel and Misgav are within this valley. In the past, most of the roads in the Galilee traversed these valleys, since travelling over the mountains in a north-south direction would have been more difficult.
This website does not cover the coastal plain, even though this is the Western Galilee, since it can be regarded as a distinct tourist area. The “Upper Galilee” (in brown on this website) and “Lower Galilee” (in green) are covered separately. All sites north of Lake Kinneret, including those close to the northern lake shore, are described in the section “Eastern Upper Galilee” (in purple). I did this because all places in the Rift Valley north of Lake Kinneret group naturally together as a tourist area. All other sites on Lake Kinneret are described in the section “Lake Kinneret and Jordan Valley” (in light blue). For the same reason, namely because this is a convenient tourist grouping, sites in the Gilboa Mountain Range, Harod Valley and Eastern Jezreel Valley are also described in the section “Lake Kinneret and Jordan Valley,” although technically they could be considered part of the Lower Galilee.
Copyright: Dolní_Galilea.svg: Daniel Baránekderivative work: TheCuriousGnome, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
During the Biblical period, the Galilee was occupied by the tribes of Zebulon, Naphtali, Issachar, and Asher. Following the split in the monarchy, this area became part of the Northern Israelite Kingdom. It was conquered by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE and much of its population was deported.
In the Second Temple period, Herod Antipas was appointed tetrarch of the Galilee by the Romans when his father Herod the Great died. He rebuilt the city of Sepphoris or Tzipori and founded the city of Tiberias. These cities became centers of Greek and Roman influence, although they still had predominantly Jewish populations.
During the Bar Kochba Revolt, Judea was deliberately depopulated by the Romans and its Jewish population was killed, sold into slavery, died from starvation, or forced to immigrate. As a result, many Jews moved to the Lower Galilee, including the rabbinic leadership. Thus, Usha, Beit She'arim, Tzipori, and finally Tiberias became seats of the Sanhedrin. During the Byzantine period, this area became more Christian, and many Jews moved to totally Jewish areas in the Upper Galilee and lower Golan.
What is there to do in the Lower Galilee? Hiking! All the hikes described in this section are family hikes. The hikes in Yodfat, Karnei Hittin, Nahal Tzipori and Mount Tabor are all worthwhile and relatively easy. The hike in Nahal Tabor is longer and a bit more difficult, but it is exceptionally beautiful and worth the effort. Tzipori and Megiddo are two places of historic interest that are well explained and worth visiting. Tel Yodfat is also of historic interest as it was the headquarters of the zealots during the Great Revolt against Rome and the first city to fall. The mall area in Yodfat is nice to visit, with its restaurant and coffee shop and tourist-type stores.
For kiddy things - the Yodfat Monkey Forest, workshops at the Marzipan Factory and Silk and Honey Farm may be appropriate, but call the latter two to check on when their workshops are offered. Kfar Kedem is a fun place for kids, but this is not for families on a tight budget.