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Tzippori (Zippori)

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Tzippori is considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in Israel. Located just outside Nazareth, the national park is known for its well-preserved mosaic floors and citadel, which is now a museum. The area was home to many different civilizations.

A Crusader citadel, restored in the 18th century, features a museum of artifacts from the site. The rooftop offers amazing view of the region. A Roman Cardo leads visitors to extensive 5th century mosaics and a synagogue. A restored 3rd century villa houses a mosaic depicting scenes of Dionysus, the god of wine; and another considered the "Mona Lisa of the Galilee." Also interesting is the the 1st century underground water system.

The 4,500-seat Roman theater at Tzippori has been partially restored and affords a beautiful view of the Galilee mountains and the Bet Netofa Valley. Tzippori is located on a hill 958 feet (292 meters) above sea level, thus its name meaning birdlike, towering over the valley.

History

Settled by the Hasmoneans 2,200 years ago, the city was then conquered by the Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders and other groups. Tzippori revolted against Roman rule and was destroyed in the year 4 BC.

King Herod’s son Antipas had restored the city to its former beauty. He added an amphitheater and an intricate underground water system. In the year 67, Tzippori refused to participate in the revolt against the Romans while the rest of the country was conquered.

Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, president of the Sanhedrin (Jewish courts), was Tzippori’s most famous resident. When his health began to fail, the Roman Emperor Antoninus granted him land in Tzippori. Hanasi set up house in Tzippori where Jews, pagans and alter Christians lived together in peace. It was here that Hanasi edited the Mishnah, the second most important book in Judaism after the Torah. At one point, 18 synagogues were in the city.

In 351 CE, the people of Tzippori, together with the rest of Galilee, rose up against Gallus Caesar. According to some sources, Tzippori was destroyed, but archaeological evidence points instead to the city's destruction by an earthquake in 363.

Christians and Jews lived together in Zippori from the 5th century on. The presence of a small Jewish community there during the Middle Ages is revealed by a 10th-century letter. The Crusaders believed that Ann and Joachim, the parents of Mary the mother of Jesus, lived in Tzippori. Remains of the church they built commemorating St. Ann can still be seen.

A Crusader fortress, rebuilt in the 18th century by Daher al-Omar, the Bedouin ruler of the Galilee, now crowns the top of the hill at Tzippori.

Information

Hours: April to September: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; October to March: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Phone: 04.656.8272.
Admission: Adult - 27 shekels; child - 14 shekels; Group rates also available.

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