Mount Tabor is located in Lower Galilee, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley.The mountain is a monadnock, an isolated small mountain rising abruptly from level surrounding land.
At the bottom of the mountain was an important roads junction: Via Maris passed there from the Jezreel Valley northward towards Damascus. Its location on the road junction and its bulgy formation above its environment gave mount Tabor a strategic value and wars were conducted in its area in different periods in history. A prominent example is the battle between Barak and the army of Jabin, commanded by Sisera during the leadership of the Israelite judge Debora in the mid 14th century BCE Which occurred near mount Tabor.
According to one ancient Christian tradition, Mount Tabor is the site of the Transfiguration of Christ, during which Jesus began to radiate light and was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah.
In 1101, when Crusaders controlled the area, the Benedictine monks rebuilt a ruined basilica and erected a fortified abbey.
Currently, on the mountaintop there are two Christian monasteries, divided into Eastern Orthodox (northeast) and Roman Catholic (southeast) areas.
Between 1919 until 1924 an impressive Roman Catholic church of the Franciscan order named “Church of the Transfiguration” was built on the peak of Mount Tabor. The architect who designed the church, as well as other churches in Israel, was Antonio Barluzzi. The church was built upon the ruins of a Byzantine church from the fifth or sixth century and a Crusader church from the 12th century, which was built in honor of Tancred, Prince of Galilee. The friars of the church live next to the church in a monastery established in 1873.
The church was built from three Naves which are separated by two rows of columns holding the arches. In the two bell towers on either side of the entrance to the building, there are two Chapels. The northern chapel is dedicated to Moses and it contains an image of him getting the Tablets of Stons on Mount Sinai, and the southern chapel is dedicated to Elijah the prophet and it contains an image of him in his confrontation with the Ba’al prophets on Mount Carmel.
On the upper part of the church, above the altar, there is a mosaic which depicts the Transfiguration, and on the Transfiguration holiday on August 6, it is illuminated by the sun beams which are returned from a glass plate located on the church’s floor.
A rock near the entrance of the church has an engraving in ancient Greek and beside it there is an engraving of a cross. Nearby there are the remains of the monastery of San Salvatore (Monastère St Salvador) which was established by the Order of Saint Benedict in 1101.
On the northeast side of the Church of the Transfiguration there is the more modest Orthodox Church which was built in 1862 with funds from Romania. The church was dedicated to Elijah the prophet and was the first religious structure built by Romanian Christians in the Holy Land.
On the northwest side of the church there is a cave named after Melchizedek the King of Salem. According to the Christian tradition, this cave was the place where Abraham met the king of Salem. The cave was known to pilgrims and Christians during the Middle Ages. With an increase in pilgrimages, the church is now open to the public.
Mount Tabor summit is accessible by personal vehicle via Shibli’s access road.
The peak of the mountain traversed by the Israel National Trail which goes up from the Gazit junction and the Shibli village, surrounding the summit and descends across the Arab village of Daburiyya towards the Nazareth mountains. The long track, which starts from Shibli which is about five kilometers long and a short nature track around the summit is about 2.5 kilometers.
The summit track passes in well-developed Mediterranean woodlands. Behind the monastery its possible to see remnants from the First Jewish–Roman War. Along the path there is a beautiful views of the Jezreel Valley, Mount Gilboa, Samaria mountains, Mount Carmel, the Golan Heights, Gilead, the Lower Galilee and the Upper Galilee. On days with good visibility one could also see the Mount Hermon.