Zippori or Sephoris are the ruins of an important ancient Talmudic city, located in the lower Galilee on the Jezreel Valley, midway between Haifa and the Sea of Galilee. It is an important member of Israel National Parks. It was the capital of the Galilee and historian Josephus Flavius described it as “the ornament of the Galilee”.
Zippori also called Sephoris is an important National Park
There are spectacular findings dating to the Hasmoneans that settled here in the second century BC and subsequent Byzantines, Arabs and Crusaders.
Sephoris, although not mentioned in the in the New Testament it was built during Jesus’ lifetime, some even argue that Joseph may have worked as a builder in the site’s construction. Tradition also reminds us that Zipori was the home of Anna and Joachim, Mary’s parents. There are no written accounts of these facts.
Mona Lisa of the Galilee is one of the Mosaics found in Zipori
The Byzantine Mosaics in Zipori National Park include what is called “The Mona Lisa of the Galilee”, a woman’s face and a well preserved Zodiac featuring Greek Gods on the Synagogue floor. The site was a center of Jewish Life during the second century. The 4,500 seat amphitheater has a great view.
It was the home of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi and the Sanhedrin convened here for a certain time and it was the place of the birth of the Mishnah which is the first written codification of Jewish Oral Law partially with the help of the Rabbi. The history of Zipori also mentions that it contributed to the Jerusalem Talmud, completed in the fourth century CE.
The Crusaders Fortress in Zipori National Park
This city saw its ups and downs. It was conquered by Herod during his reign. After Herod’s death it was Roman Governor Varus. Herod Antipas restored the site to its former glory.
Christians and Jews lived together in Sephoris and there is proof of a small Jewish settlement in the place during the middle ages.
Among the sites you may still see as Crusader fortress, later rebuilt by Daher Al Omar the Bedouin ruler of the Galilee in the 18th century. During that time the town was called Safouriyeh, keeping the sound of the Hebrew name. The remainders of the church built to commemorate Anna, mother of Mary can still be seen.
You will also find a restored third century villa with a spectacular mosaic with scenes of the life of Dionysus, the God of wine.
Visit also the Nile Mosaic from the 5th century CE, also a highlight, as is the 250-meter-long, first-century CE underground water system, which had a capacity of 5,000 cubic meters.
Roman Amphitheater in Zipori National Park
The Zippori visitor’s center hosts activities and “Ancient Style” Bar Mitzvahs and other events for up to 70 guests on the first floor of the Crusader Fortress and up to 250 guests in the plaza near the ancient Synagogue.
You may visit this site at any time of the year. There is a snack bar, a souvenir shop, picnic areas and guided tours with previous reservation.
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