THE GALILEE, Israel - A new Israeli tourism adventure called The Gospel Trail lets visitors go off the beaten path and literally walk where Jesus walked.
For years, tourists have spent much of their time in the Holy Land stuck in tour groups on crowded buses. Now at certain sites, they can walk paths and trails like those taken by Christ.
The Gospel Trail project starts near Jesus' boyhood home in Nazareth and ends where he centered his ministry by the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum.
Rafi Ben Hur, deputy general of Israel's Ministry of Tourism, says the trail is something every Christian should experience.
"What we are now trying to do is give this special experience, this spiritual special experience to the Christian people," he explained.
The Gospel Trail is 37 miles long. Hikers can tackle the entire path or hike a shorter stretch. Bicycling is also allowed on parts of the trail.
Trail project manager Amir Moran says the walk is for everyone.
"It's not for professional hikers. It's for young people and for old people," he said.
An anchor symbol marks stone pillars along the route. Moran said that's how people used to mark their paths thousands of years ago.
The trail winds by the village of Cana, over an old Roman road, up Mount Arbel, and to the Mount of Beatitudes, where it's believed Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount.
"We choose the route which is not developed," Moran said. "Almost all the way it looks exactly like in that ancient times."
At the end of the trail, visitors can top off their trek with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee -- the same water on which Jesus walked.
--Published July 1, 2011.