Yafia in Greater Nazareth
The modern Arab village of Yafia (alternately referred to as Jafia, Japha, Yafi or Joffa of the Galilee) is today considered to be part of greater Nazareth. Christian tours to the Holy Land commonly stop in Yafia to visit the four landmark churches that are situated in the village's Old City.
Yafia's churches mark the birthplace of Saint James, son of Zebedee. James, along with his brother John, was a fisherman and one of the disciples of Jesus. As described in the Book of Acts, James was eventually murdered by Herod.
As a visitor arriving at Yafia, you’ll see that all the churches were built extremely close together. About 100 yards above the main road that leads from here to the center of Nazareth, you’ll find a Catholic church and school. The Greek Orthodox church is located around the corner, but it can be hard to spot in the densely-populated village.
Above the Greek Orthodox church, look for the yard that stands in front of what was once a synagogue, with its entrance facing towards Jerusalem. This ancient synagogue dates from the 3rd century, during the Byzantine period (if your travel takes you to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, you can see the fragments of the mosaic floor that originally included 12 circles surrounding symbols of the 12 tribes, two of which having been found intact at this location in Yafia and put on display at the Israel Museum).
While visiting Yafia, you’ll learn that, in the early Roman period, it was once one of the largest and most important villages on the road to Nazareth and also to Sepphoris, which was the regional capital in the Galilee. It is believed that Jesus traveled on this road many times.