Tzippori National Park

Tzippori National Park

Described alternately as "the ornament of the Galilee" and "the Mona Lisa of the Galilee," Tzippori is a sprawling, site rich in archaeology and history and can provide tour participant a glimpse into ancient urban life in the northern Holy Land.

During the period of Jesus, Tzippori was a Hellenized city and the hometown of Mary's parents, Anna and Joachim. It is possible that Jesus would have come from nearby Nazareth to do business in the bigger city of Tzippori. Tzippori eventually became a center of Jewish religious life in the Galilee and home to an impressive synagogue.

Start your tour at the top of the Crusader fortress, which offers a view of the large Roman theater below. The theater seats 4500 and is supported by stone pillars.

Then walk through the ancient village, to see the Jewish homes that have been revealed by excavations. Interesting images have been carved into the stone streets, including a menorah and a children's game. Ritual baths dot the village, and intricate mosaic floors decorate the public buildings and homes of the wealthy.

A Roman villa with a gorgeous mosaic floor is the pinnacle of a visit to Tzippori. You can walk around the mosaic and pick out images from Roman myth. The most famous image is of a young woman, possibly Venus, portrayed with great detail and looking quite life-like.

The mosaics in the Tzippori synagogue are also fascinating. Scenes from the Old Testament are portrayed, such as the angels visiting Sarah and the binding of Isaac. A detailed Zodiac shows the Hebrew months and a central section depicts the rituals of the Temple in Jerusalem.

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