Tzippori is a national park these days, covering an area of around 16 square kilometers. It is located in central Galilee (northern Israel) nearby the city of Nazareth.
Tzipori is based geographically on a hill, some 300 meters above sea level, watching over the “Beit-Netufa Valley”.
Its name means “My bird”, stemming from its perfect climate: cool, with pleasant breezes and mainly – like a bird high up on the hill-top….
Byzantine and medieval tradition has it that Tzipiri was the birthplace of Mary. Jewish tradition align the ancient city with one of the most important Rabbis; Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi. Legend has it that he has been born on the very same
day that famous Rabbi Akiva was put to death by the Romans for his part in the Jewish Revolt.
The site had undergone massive archaeological excavations and had been opened to the public in 1992. Some excavations are still underway, these days as well.
Excavations had already begun in 1931 and were first led by Dr. Leroy Waterman of the University of Michigan. Over the years, a number of other delegations joined in, mostly from the US as well as form Israel Universities.
Major Findings are:
- An ancient synagogue, with a mosaic floor, dated back to the 5th century
- A Roman Villa, also paved with colorful mosaics
- A theater from the Roman period –of the first century AD; with some 4,500 seats
- A Crusader church
- A “Nile Festival House” at which a large mosaic depicting the Nile in Egypt and celebrations – was fund nearly intact
- Houses, dated to the second Temple, “Mishna” and “Talmud”; including ritual baths, which suggest Jewish settlements
- An ancent water reservoir, providing water to the city via two aqueducts
- A Citadel that had probably served a first Roman fort, then a Crusader fortress and later on a Turkish fortress. It appears that this had been rebuilt in the 18th century to serve as a school
Major sites to visit at the site are:
- Tzippori’s synagogue, with its magnificent 5th century mosaic;
- The amazing mosaic of the “Mona Lisa of Galilee”, in a Tzippori’s restored villa: With an enigmatic smile, created by with hundreds of small stones in dozens of natural shades;
- A beautiful mosaic that depicts a he “Nile river ceremony” with Gods, Goddesses and a huge amount of African animals;
- A free stroll of the main street is an interesting feeling;
- The huge water-tunnel that had brought water into town awaits visitors;
A full tour throughout the excavated ruins would take around 4 hours; it is comfortable, to visit the site, year-round.
April – September 8:00 to 17:00
October – March 8:00 to 16:00
Friday eve and holiday’s eve: 8:00 to 15:00