Zippori National Park, Northern District, Israel

The ancient ruins of this once great city lives up to its post-Biblical billing, “The ornament of all Galilee”.

Zippori National Park provides a glimpse into hundreds of years of ancient history. The liveliness of Jewish life in the city is indicated by the 18 synagogues the Talmud said the city had. Or, they could just have been exaggerating – another ancient source says the city had 180,000 pudding dealers.

Indeed, only one synagogue, built at the beginning of the fifth century CE, has so far been discovered. Its prayer hall features a spectacular mosaic replete with Bible stories and Jewish symbols. Scholars have even detected a message of optimism in the symbolism of the floor, built in the day when Jews were not allowed into Jerusalem by that city’s Christian overlords at the time. Detailed explanatory panels and drawings bring the synagogue alive.

The touring route will take you through the ancient 4,500-seat theater, past what might have been the Jewish quarter (many ritual baths were found there), established after the Sanhedrin moved to the city under the famed Rabbi Judah Hanasi who, around the year 200 CE, redacted the Mishnah there.

The route also provides a lookout of the Tomb of Rabbi Yudan Nesiah, grandson of Judah Hanasi, and the Crusader Church of St. Anne (grandmother of Jesus, who was born at Zippori according to legend), the early Medieval tower with its archaeological display and, from the roof, the promised birds-eye view.

Visit Israel. Epic Israel Adventure route © Monika & Simon Newbound. All rights reserved 2017

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