If you have never me been to Magdala or Israel in general, nothing quite prepares you. The climate in summer is hot and winters are characterised by very low temperatures sometimes even snow in Jerusalem. You can just picture ancient times, many leading donkeys with supplies around the city and merchants plying their wares almost all around you.
In summer as you journey to Magdala picture arid country side in some parts and as you descend into the valley your eyes are greeted with lush green. Children are playing happily in the streets and as if you were cast back right into ancient times, donkeys are still the animal of choice for all your heavy lifting.
Arriving at the Magdala Center, which very presence is imposing but yet fits very neatly into the landscape, you in total awe. Massive, beautiful, colorful mosaics adorn the walls. Each painting is neatly framed by an arch and intricate lettering appears in gold.
Absolute silence encapsulates this place, even visitors for no apparent reason whisper quietly amongst themselves. Casting your eyes up, domed ceilings are too surfaced in mosaics of Jesus, no doubt preaching and offering counsel to his disciples.
Your mind is quickly alerted to someone, obviously local, speaking in Hebrew. The sounds are coarse at first but strangely melodic. You can’t but help be intrigued with the rhythm and pace of this interesting language. Your guide now gestures you to follow him further on. As you enter yet another room rows upon rows of wooden benches greet you. At the front and center of this arch lined room is a boat-themed pulpit. As your guide quickly shoots off stating this magnificent find your mind is totally consumed with images of fishermen returning from an early morning trip at sea. The simplicity of the boats design is truly remarkable. A white sign board notes that this is similar to the “Jesus Boat”. It was uncovered after a particularly dry season, the sea retreated and there it’s lay for archeologists to simply uncover. Furthermore, it still had its sails and oars intact for the most part and after much effort was fully restored.
You are now led outside to the main “dig”. Wood lined pathways guide you through a maze of cobble stone. Casting your eyes down, circular patterns and neat cross shapes map out most of this is area.
Leading on towards the “mini-synagogue” as it is known your feet come to an immediate halt. The sheer anticipation of arriving here has overcome you. You take a sip of water and seat yourself against a wall on a bench made of stone. Again beautiful mosaics greet you at your side. This is the place where Jesus preached. Given Magdalas close proximity to Capernaum, Jesus home; he no doubt must have visited this exact location many times.
After a full day of trekking and literally walking the path that Jesus travelled all those years ago – dinner is the only thing on you mind. What better meal to enjoy than fish, this is Magdala Nunayya after all – the land of fishes.