Mount Tabor rises 575 meters above sea level in the eastern edge of the Jezreel Valley. Also known as the Mount of Transfiguration, it is the traditional site of the Transfiguration described in the Synoptic Gospels, when Jesus became radiant, spoke with Moses and Elijah, and was called “Son” by God (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:1-8, Luke 9:28-36). Two churches on top of the mountain commemorate the Transfiguration– an impressive Franciscan church built on the ruins of Byzantine and Crusaders churches, and a modest Greek Orthodox church named for the prophet Elijah.
In 1099 Benedictine monks were installed at the church on Mount Tabor by the Crusaders, they were later massacred by a Turkish attack in 1113, but the Benedictines returned to rebuild. Their church monastery survived an 1183 attack by Saladin’s army but did not survive the Crusader defeat at the Horns of Hattin in 1187. A Muslim fortress was subsequently built on the mountain, precipitating the fifth Crusade to take back the holy place. While the Crusader siege failed, the fortress was dismantled to stop any further provocation. The walls and gate around the current Franciscan compound are a restoration of the 13th century fortress walls.