National Park

Visit Tel Hazor and Korazim National Parks


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With summer upon us, hit the road and visit Tel Hazor and Korazim National Parks – with their magnificent views and interesting outdoor historical backgrounds.

This tour is also excellent when combined with a light afternoon hike or a water hike in one of the northern streams; Just make sure that if you are going to be going out all day, plan for activities indoors or in the shade during the hot midday hours.

1.Tel Hazor

Tel Hazor National Park, which is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the Hula Valley near Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar. For the history buffs among us, you will be delighted to learn that Hazor’s story dates back many years and is full of intriguing facts. For example, Hazor is the largest and most important Biblical-era site in all of Israel, a claim based on excavations carried out at the site in which a building dating from the Canaanite period was discovered.

According to archaeologists, the structure found in the lower part of the excavation site was part of the palace of ancient Hazor. And not long ago, archaeologists found a fragment of an Egyptian sphinx statue with an inscription between its feet bearing the name of the Egyptian king Mycerinus, who was one of the builders of the famous pyramids of Giza. This was an extremely important find because it proves that the Egyptians ruled the area.

Although the sphinx remains have been removed from the site and brought to Jerusalem, there is still much to see locally in Hazor, and tours of the site are suitable for families. If you are going on a hot day, I recommend starting as early as possible to avoid the heat in the middle of the day.

The national park is divided into two parts: the upper town, including the Acropolis, which covers around 30 acres, and the lower town. Also, I highly recommend taking the time to visit the Hazor Antiquities Museum located at the entrance to Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar. Inside the museum you’ll find a fascinating exhibit featuring remains found at Hazor, including photographs from excavations that took place in the 1950s and 1960s, maps, remains of Canaanite temples and tombs, as well as items that have been transported to the area. from Egypt, Cyprus and Crete. Visits to the museum are by appointment and only for groups.

It is important to understand that the city of Hazor was one of the most important cities of the Canaanite period and the Israelite period. The city was destroyed by a catastrophic fire which, according to the book of Joshua, was deliberately started by the Israelites. According to the Books of Kings, the city was rebuilt by King Solomon.

Hazor’s importance stems primarily from the role it played as a strategic location on the trade route between Egypt and Mesopotamia. It was without a doubt one of the most important cities in the history of the Land of Israel. The visit of the national park will introduce you to remains of the Bronze Age, a Canaanite palace, as well as a gate and a wall which are said to date back to the time of King Solomon.

I recommend starting your tour in the lower town, which spans over 175 acres, of which only small sections have been excavated to date. Ordinary people lived in this region, while the nobility lived nearby in the upper town. In the lower town, archaeologists found the remains of ten basalt tombstones and a beheaded statue in a temple that was undoubtedly used by the inhabitants of the lower town. Some experts believe that the head of the statue was deliberately beheaded by the Israelites. Before continuing, don’t forget to take a moment to take in the breathtaking views of the Hula Valley.

When you are done exploring the Lower Town, head up to the Upper Town, where you will find a large number of temples and palaces. You will soon see the remains of an impressive Canaanite palace whose walls were lined with cedar wood from Lebanon. At the entrance to the palace you will see two basalt pillars, which were the starting point for the official processions. Inside the palace, which was used by kings at Hazor in the 13th and 14th centuries BCE, you’ll find an altar, as well as a throne room.

The next stop on the tour is the water supply system, which is one of the most important finds in the national park. Supposedly built during the time of King Ahab, the purpose of the water system was to provide residents with plenty of water during the siege. The water network was dug 45 meters into the ground, which is quite impressive for this period. The builders constructed a huge well that reached down to the water table, which allowed residents of Hazor to access water without having to rely on precipitation or other sources.

Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, visitors are no longer allowed to walk to the opening of the water system, but can only view it from above. In the past, visitors could descend to water level, but nowadays only local pigeons look inside.

directions: Drive north on Route 90 and pass Rosh Pina. Look for the signs for Tel Hazor National Park on your right.

Pre-registration required: On the Israel Parks and Nature Authority website. Tel Hazor and Korazim (Hadar Yahav)

2.korazim

If we are already spending the day learning about the history of the area, another archaeological site worth visiting is Korazim National Park, located about 10 minutes from the Amiad intersection. Archaeologists have found remains of an ancient Jewish village from the first century AD at the site. The village was first mentioned in finds from the Second Temple period. Korazim is also a popular tourist destination for Christians, mainly because it is mentioned in the New Testament as the place where Jesus curses the Jews for refusing to accept his teachings.

In the heart of Korazim National Park, you will find the remains of an ancient synagogue dating from the 4th century AD. The peculiarity of this structure is that it was built from massive basalt stones decorated with carvings of animals and plants. In addition, many coins were found in the synagogue. The first set of coins consists of 400 coins, most of which date from the time of Constantine, at the beginning of the fourth century AD. The second set of coins consists of 1,500 coins dating from the fourth to the seventh century AD.

Another famous find in Korazim is the “Seat of Moses,” which is carved from basalt stone, and according to the New Testament, it is the place where the main leaders of the community sat during prayer. Nearby you can see a mikvah, an olive press and two large buildings, all of which have been partially restored. In addition, you will find the remains of Sheikh Ramadan Abu-Karaza’s tomb in the shade of an old oak tree. The tomb was probably built at the end of the Mamluk period, and local Bedouin people believe the site is connected to Salah ad-Din. Nowadays, it is a popular place of pilgrimage for people who make vows or hope to settle disputes.

At Korazim, you will also find 60 objects discovered by archaeologists, including lintels, cornices, parts of columns and millstones. During recent excavations in 2019, a 16 square meter wine press was discovered with a beautiful mosaic floor dating from the Talmudic period. And, of course, don’t forget to look up to take in the magnificent Kinneret below.

directions: Continue along Route 8277. Korazim National Park is located between the Korazim and Almagor intersections.

Pre-registration required: On the Israel Parks and Nature Authority website.

Price: 22 NIS for adults and 9 NIS for children. 

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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