The parking lot adjacent to the Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration is the departure point for the short dirt path that passes by the moat of the mediaeval fortress and, a hundred meters further on, meets up with a path indicated by black trail markings. The pine trees that grow here were planted during the British Mandate, and they lean over crookedly, borne down by the winds and the weight of years. Here we turn left. The path takes us past the back of the Church of the Transfiguration and the southeastern corner of the mediaeval fortress. The moat and the remains of the wall are clearly visible. The ruined buildings and cisterns outside the fortress may have belonged to the Jewish fort that stood here at the time of the revolt against the Romans.
Opposite the Church of the Transfiguration we pass by a red-marked path that leads eastwards down the mountain to the highway from Afula to Kfar Tavor (Route no. 65). Here we find ourselves in the middle of a park-like forest of Tabor oaks that offers a magnificent view of Lower and Eastern Galilee, the Jezreel Valley, Nahal Tavor (“Tabor Stream”), Mount Gilboa and the Mountains of Gilad on the far side of the River Jordan.
Now the summit path crosses the eastern side of the top of the mountain, passing by a blue-marked trail that leads down towards Gazit Junction. Our route takes us to the northwestern corner of the mediaeval fortress, where we can observe the very impressive ruins of the corner tower and the moat hewn into the rock. Even more impressive, however, is the wonderful view of the heights of Lower and Eastern Galilee before they plunge down into Yavne’el Valley and the gully of Nahal Tavor. Kibbutz Beit Keshet and Kadoorie Agricultural High School are displayed as if in the palm of a hand, as are the expanses all the way to Mount Hermon.
A little further on we can see on the left the mouth of a cave hewn into the rock and decorated with a man-made arch. At some point in the past it may have served as a dwelling for monks. In wintertime meadow saffron, grape hyacinth, crocus, anemone and asphodel bloom gaily at the sides of the path, and in spring the Persian lily (Fritillaria persica) comes into flower.
The path passes through the northern part of the summit, below the Greek Orthodox church, before turning left to its southern side. Here we come to an arched gateway that leads into a courtyard at the back of which the Chapel of Melchizedek (Malki-Zedek) is hewn into the rock. This chapel belongs to the Greek church, and its gates are usually kept locked. According to Orthodox tradition, this is the Biblical Valley of Shaveh (Emeq Shaveh), where Abraham met Melchizedek, King of Salem (Genesis 14:17-18).
From here it’s just a short distance to the Gate of the Wind, through which the road leads to the parking lot. This gate was built over a hundred years ago, and some of the stones used in its construction were taken from the fortress. We are now very close to the parking lot.
Length of route: Two kilometers. Signposting: Black trail markings.
Suitability for motor vehicles: The narrow road that winds its serpentine way up to the summit can be negotiated in a private car, but not by buses or trucks. Groups of visitors who arrive in large vehicles should park at the Tabor Terminal between the villages of Shibli and Daburiyya, and engage one of the taxis waiting at the foot of the hill to take them to the summit.
Opening hours at the Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration
Sunday to Thursday: 8.00-11.45 and 14.00-17.00.
Saturdays and holidays: Until 11.30.
The Greek Orthodox church is not open to the public.