In fact, only about 15 per cent of the site has been excavated to date so there is still much to discover.
Near the site where the marketplace was discovered, stands a unique spirituality center called "Duc In Altum," which means "go out into the deep." It was created as a place for visitors to pray, reflect, and discover aspects of Jesus’ public life. Completed in May 28, 2014, many architects, builders and artists from around the world, as well as locally, came together to make it happen. It’s beautiful altar, made of cedar wood in the shape of a boat, with a reflecting pool strategically placed behind it outside, conjures up the picture of Jesus evangelizing from the boat on the Sea of Galilee.
A central part of Duc in Altum is the Atrium, an octagonal space dedicated to the women of the New Testament, and all women, with four special side chapels adjoining it for groups to use.
"I think Duc in Altum will become known as time progresses," says Fr. Kelly. "It is a deeply inspiring place for Christians, as well as many non-Christians — and even people of no faith. Photos don’t do it justice. Since it is very likely that Jesus walked in the market place there, so close to the fishing boats in the port, we figured this was good spot to create a place that represents unity and honors women, especially Mary Magdalene, ‘the apostle to the apostles’. It is a place that emerges from history and expresses people’s feelings today. It invites everyone to come together."
Duc in Altum was dedicated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in May 2014, at the same time that the Archeological Park was officially inaugurated.
Next to open will be the Magdala Guesthouse, a multifaceted pilgrimage center to accomodate up to 300 guests, as well as a restaurant with seating for up to 900. The restaurant exterior is built now and the guest house is currently under construction.
"The rich archeology here makes this a cross roads of Jewish and Christian history; therefore it’s an ideal place for ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue and encounter. We hope everyone will come to Magdala and experience it for themselves."
Zoe Romanowsky is lifestyle editor and video content producer for Aleteia.