BEIT SHEAN NATIONAL PARK
One of the oldest cities in our country, Beit Shean, is geographically located so well that history simply could not ignore it.
"Paradise" - this is how one of the most important Jewish leaders, the great Jewish sage Shimon Ben Lakish (Resh Lakish), called Beit Shean 1700 years ago in the Eruvin treatise.
Beit Shean is located right in the valley of the same name - Beit Shean, in the place where it joins with the Jezreel Valley. Once through these places passed the way from Egypt to Mesopotamia. The city is located on the main road that connects Jerusalem and Tiberias, and on the road that connects the valley with the Mediterranean Sea.
Its name is also mentioned among the cities conquered by Pharaoh Thutmose the Third during the campaign to Palestine in the 14th century BC. From then until the 12th century BC. the city belonged to the Egyptians and was the administrative center of the entire region. In the Bible, Beit Shean is already mentioned when describing the entry of the people of Israel into the Promised Land.
During the reign of King Shaul (Saul), the city was conquered by the Philistines (in the Battle of Gilboa), but later it was captured by King David, and Beit Shean then passed to his son, King Shlomo (Solomon). At the time of the Second Temple, the population of the city was mixed: Jews who called the city Baishan and the Greeks who called it Skitopolis lived here. During the anti-Roman uprising (66 - 70 AD), the Jewish inhabitants of the city were brutally destroyed.
During the Byzantine era, Beit Shean was an important Christian city. Throughout the Roman-Byzantine era, Skitopolis was a luxurious city: public buildings, baths, attractions, markets, monumental gates, straight, beautiful streets. The city had a synagogue with amazing mosaics discovered during archaeological excavations in the late 60s of the 20th century, and large pagan temples later turned into churches.
This is where the Syrian-African rift begins. During the 749 earthquakes, the city was almost destroyed, and since then it has remained a small town. During the British Mandate, the population of Beit Shean was only a few thousand. Moreover, the Jews in comparison with the Arabs were in a significant minority. Arabs constantly threatened local Jews, and during the pogroms of 1936, British police evacuated all Jews from the city. Their houses were brutally plundered.
During the war of independence (the city was then an important stronghold of Arab troops), as a result of hostilities, on May 12, 1948, the Israeli army liberated Beit Shean, and in June 1949 new immigrants arrived here to settle.
The rich ancient history of the city constantly haunted the scientists - historians. In 1990, at the initiative of several organizations (the Ministry of Tourism, the Jewish National Fund, the Office of National Parks, the municipality of Beit Shean, and the Archaeological Board), archaeological work was resumed on an area of about 1,500 dunams. During excavations on the site of the destroyed ancient city, a Roman theater (similar to the theater in Caesarea), temples, shopping centers, baths, mosaics, and other ancient monuments were discovered. Restoration work was carried out at the same time.
In July 2008, a grandiose project was opened - a light and sound show, where tens of millions of dollars were invested. With the help of the latest technologies (hologram, lighting effects, sound simulation, etc.), the ancient city is literally being reborn before our very eyes. One gets the impression that you can walk along the streets, plunge into the atmosphere of those times when the city was not yet destroyed by the earthquake of 749 BC. The show is unique in its role in Israel and one of the few in the world. The show and archaeological site constantly attract thousands of tourists from all over the world.
At the exit from the archaeological site, the Turkish governor and Turkish police were located even before the British mandate. The building has been renovated and now houses a tourist center. A luxury hotel has been built nearby, where tourists can stay in this interesting city.
The Beit Shean Valley owes its fertility to the abundance of water - many springs come to the surface right at the foot of Mount Gilboa: Gan Ha-Shlosha (Sahne), Maayan Kherod, Ganei Huga, Ein Mode, Ein Shokek, and dozens of others. Most of these oases are open to tourists. Plunge into clean cool water and relax in the shade of trees - what could be better in hot weather, and it is in our area almost all year round!
The city has a National Park at the site of the archaeological site of ancient Beit Shean. Scythopolis is one of the cities of Decapolis (ten Hellenistic cities, united by Pompey into a separate administrative unit).
The complex includes a Roman theater, baths, colonnades on the streets of Cardo and Decumanus, where ancient shops covered with floor mosaics were located. On the right side of the Cardo (which today is called the Palladius), the columns are crowned with capitals of the Ionian order, and on the left, from the side of the baths, there are richer in the decoration of the Corinthian order. The columns of the theater are also crowned with capitals of the Corinthian order. Cardo today, the main street of the city, led from the Roman theater. 180 meters long, over 7 meters wide with a deep drainage channel in the center. It bears the name Palladium, because of an inscription found there, which said that the gallery on this street was built by Bishop Palladium. Remains of an ancient basilica, more than 1500 years old, have been found in Skitopolis. This place is well known to many for the popular rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Stone witnesses of the times of Jesus Christ served as scenery for the film of the same name.
But not only ancient finds that amaze the imagination will be of interest to tourists. Holidays in these places are also extraordinary. Landscapes for nature lovers In the Kinneret area (Lake Tiberias),
This is all the more important for those hikers who want to hike along the famous Emek HaMaayanot trail, a regional trail that traverses stunning landscapes, historical sites, and monuments, as well as the most picturesque natural areas in the Emek HaMaayanot Valley.
This route can take six days on foot without interruption, or it can be completed in stages over several weekends.
This route is also suitable for cycling.
EMEK HAMAAYANOT TRAIL
The trail begins at the top of Mount Gilboa, then descends in the north to the springs of the valley, and then ascends to the Crusader fortress "Kohav ha-Yarden". Further, the trail runs northward along the hilltops, descends south near the border with Jordan, passes the railway tracks, across the railway bridge, south to Tirat Tzvi, past the pools and ancient paths that once crossed this wide valley.
The trail ends at the Tel Teomim, Tel Rehov, and Tel Beit Shean burial mounds - in the Beit Shean National Park.
It will be especially interesting to visit this area during the bird migration season. At this time of the year, storks, pelicans, cranes, buzzards, and many other birds can be seen along the trail near the fish pans, flocks of which fill the fields and the sky of the valley.
The Beit Shean Guest House is nearby - this hotel was built overlooking the Beit Shean Valley and the Gilboa Mountains. You can also watch birds from here
If you get to these places in rainy weather, then you will be advised an excellent route - from Tel Jezreel to Ain Jezreel. According to historians and archaeologists, the city of Jezreel was the winter capital of the Israelite kings. A strategic capital that protects a valley with the Gilboa Mountains on the horizon.
Drivers of cars passing by must have noticed the remains of the fortress wall, the massive stones of which are visible right from the road. As the excavations showed, in the 9th century BC. on this place there was a fortress, watchtowers were located strictly symmetrically in the four corners of the fortress, a city gate was also found in the center of the southern wall. The location of the fortress, that is, the topography and geography of the area, is surprisingly well combined with the stories described in the Bible related to this city.
It was here, in Jezreel, that the famous story of King Ahab and the owner of the local vineyard Navot, described in the Bible, took place. Navot never wanted to sell his field to Ahab. Slandered by the wife of Ahab - Izevel - Navot was declared a criminal and executed, and according to the laws of that time, the land of the criminal became the property of the then king. Thus, King Ahab inherited the lands of Navot. The sources are written: "Navot is condemned and killed, and Ahab descends ..." The terrain here is such that the king really had to go down to the fields of Navot ... However, King Ahab paid for this act: "You killed, and you also inherit!" - the prophet Elijah exclaimed in anger and promised to "bring evil" on the guilty king. Ahab, regretting what he had done, "... he tore his clothes, and put a hair shirt on his body, and fasted, and lay in a hair shirt and walked quietly ...". Ahab is partially forgiven for his humble behavior - he dies with dignity, like a warrior in battle. This bloody history of these places did not end there, and there were numerous battles and wars here. And in the year of the War of Independence, many soldiers of the then still forming Israeli army died here. In memory of these battles, a monument to the victims was erected here.
From Tel Jezreel there is a convenient descent to Ain Jezreel: there is a spring mentioned in Mikra as the place near which King Shaul and his army made a halt on the eve of the last battle with the Philistines. In the same battle, the king, along with his sons, died.
Now here, by the water, in the cool and the shade of eucalyptus trees, after the excursion from Tel Jezreel to Ain Jezreel, many tourists are happy to have picnics.
From Ain Jezreel, you can go to Park Ha-may not and walk along the water along the shallow river Nahal Ha-Kibbutzim. The start of the route can be reached on foot or by an electric shuttle that transports travelers from place to place. The water in the river is crystal clear, walking on the water takes about half an hour, and at the end of the route, you arrive at a convenient parking and a well-equipped place to relax in the shade.
AND FINALLY, TIPS FOR TOURISTS - HOW TO GET TO BEIT SHEAN
Best She'an can be reached by three main roads:
1.If you are coming from the west, drive through Afula and merge onto Highway 71.
2.If you are coming from the south (Jerusalem, Dead Sea), you will get to Beit Shean along Highway 90.
3.From the north, you will also get to Beit Shean via Route 90.
When entering Beit Shean, watch closely for the small brown signs to Gan Leumi Beit Shean.
Beit Shean national park is an amazing place to visit, many tourists concentrate on Jerusalem and Jaffa and I suggest to pay attention to Beit Shean, book your private tour guide to Beit Shean and discover the best city in the Jordan Valley.