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Visit Tel Hazor & Korazim National Parks

CM 26/05/2021 1

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With summer upon us, hit the road and visit Tel Hazor and Korazim National Parks – with their beautiful vistas and interesting historical backgrounds in the open air. 

This visit is also great when combined with a light afternoon hike or a water hike in one of the North’s streams; just make sure that if you’re going to be out all day, plan for indoor or shady activities in 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 excited to learn that the history of Hazor goes 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 that is based on excavations conducted on the site in which a building dating back to the Canaanite period was uncovered. 
According to archeologists, the structure that was found in the lower section of the excavation site was part of the palace at Ancient Hazor. And not long ago, archeologists 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 Giza pyramids. This was an extremely important find since it proves that the Egyptians ruled in the region. 
Although the sphinx remains were removed from the site and brought to Jerusalem, there are still plenty of interesting things to see on site at Hazor, and tours of the site are family friendly. If you happen to be going on a hot day, I recommend getting as early a start as possible to avoid the heat in the middle of the day. 
The national park is divided into two parts: The Upper City, including the Acropolis, which covers about 30 acres, and the Lower City. In addition, I definitely recommend taking the time to visit the Hazor Antiquities Museum located at the entrance of Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar. Inside the museum, you will find a fascinating exhibit featuring remains found at Hazor, including photographs of the excavations that took place in the 1950s and 1960s, maps, remains from the Canaanite temples and tombs, as well as items that were transported to the area from Egypt, Cyprus and Crete. Visits to the museum are by appointment and for groups only. 
It’s important to understand that the city of Hazor was one of the most important cities during the Canaanite period and the Israelite period. The city was destroyed by a catastrophic fire, which according to the Book of Joshua was deliberately set by the Israelites. According to the Books of Kings, the city was rebuilt by King Solomon. 

The significance of Hazor stems mainly from the role it played as a strategic location on the trade route between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Undoubtedly, it was one of the most important cities in the history of the Land of Israel. The tour through the national park will take you past remains from the Bronze Age, a Canaanite palace, as well as a gate and wall that are believed to date back to the time of King Solomon. 
I recommend starting your tour in the Lower City, which spans over 175 acres, only small sections of which have been excavated to date. The common people lived in this area, while the nobility lived nearby in the Upper City. In the Lower City, archeologists found the remains of ten basalt tombstones and a beheaded statue in a temple that was undoubtedly used by inhabitants of the Lower City. Some experts believe that the head of the statue was deliberately decapitated by Israelites. Before continuing on, don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Hula Valley. 
When you’re done exploring the Lower City, make your way up the Upper City, where you’ll find a large number of temples and palaces. You’ll 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’ll see two basalt pillars, which was the starting point for official processions. Inside the palace, which was used by kings at Hazor during 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 discoveries in the national park. Built supposedly during the time of King Ahab, the goal of the water system was to supply residents with plenty of water during the siege. The water system was dug down 45 meters into the ground, which is pretty impressive for that time period. The builders constructed a huge shaft that reached all the way down to groundwater level, which supplied Hazor residents with access to water without having to rely on rainfall or other sources. 
Unfortunately, due to safety issues, visitors are no longer allowed to walk down to the opening of the water system, but can only look down upon it from higher up. In days past, visitors could walk down all the way to water level, but nowadays the local pigeons are the only ones who get a close-up look inside. 
Directions: Drive north on Route 90 and pass Rosh Pina. Look for signs for Tel Hazor National Park on your right. 
Pre-registration required: On the Israel Nature and Parks Authority website. Tel Hazor & Korazim (Hadar Yahav)Tel Hazor & Korazim (Hadar Yahav)
If we’re already spending the day learning about the history of the region, another archaeological site that is worth visiting is Korazim National Park, located about 10 minutes from Amiad Intersection. Archaeologists have uncovered at the site remains of an ancient Jewish village from the first century CE. The village was first mentioned in findings from the Second Temple period. Korazim is a popular tourist destination for Christians, too, mainly since it is mentioned in the New Testament as the place where Jesus cursed Jews for refusing to accept his teachings. 
In the heart of Korazim National Park, you’ll find the remains of an ancient synagogue dating back to the fourth century CE. What’s unique about this structure is that it was built from massive basalt stones that were decorated with etchings of animals and plants. Moreover, numerous coins were found in the synagogue. The first batch of coins consists of 400 coins that are mostly from the time of Constantine, at the beginning of the fourth century CE. The second batch of coins consists of 1,500 coins that date back to between the fourth and seventh centuries CE. 
Another famous find at Korazim is the “Seat of Moses,” which is carved from basalt stone, and according to the New Testament is the place where the important community leaders would sit during prayer time. Nearby, you can see a mikveh, an olive press and two large buildings, all of which have been partially restored. In addition, you will find the remains of the tomb of Sheikh Ramadan Abu-Karaza in the shade of an old oak tree. The tomb was most likely built in the late Mamluk period, and local Bedouin residents believe the site is connected to Salah ad-Din. Nowadays, it is a popular pilgrimage site for people making vows or hoping to settle disputes. 
At Korazim, you will also find 60 items uncovered by archeologists, including lintels, cornices, parts of columns and millstones. During recent excavations in 2019, a 16-square-meter wine press was uncovered with a beautiful mosaic floor dating back to the Talmudic period. And, of course, don’t forget to lift up your eyes to gaze out at the magnificent Kinneret below. 
Directions: Drive along Road 8277. Korazim National Park is situated between Korazim and Almagor intersections. 
Pre-registration required: On the Israel Nature and Parks Authority website. 
Price: NIS 22 for adults and NIS 9 for children. 
Translated by Hannah Hochner. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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