Zippori Things to Do

  • Crusaders Fortress
    Crusaders Fortress
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    view from the fortress
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Most Recent Things to Do in Zippori

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    Zippori National Park

    by mindcrime Written Feb 15, 2014

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    If you like ancient history, ruins, culture and art the National Park of Zippori is a great place to spend some hours. We bought our tickets but didn’t really know what we were about to see here although I have read it about the day before.

    In the entrance pavilion there’s a scale model of Zippori (pic 1) while in the souvenir shop you can watch a film about the place. Then we took some pictures of the surrounded area (pic 2, there’s a small village and a lake) and then we entered the archeological area through Decumanus street, a typical roman street that dates back to early 2nd century AD.

    Don’t forget to bring along some water with you because the sun is the real enemy here, hard to find some corners with shade, only in some of the buildings. Apart from the main (east to west) street the roman town had many others creating a network that connects the different buildings all over the town. The stone paved streets were colonnaded and although you can’t see that in the ruins there are some transparent panels with sketches to give you an idea how a street was back then like the one in pic 4.
    Most buildings had roofed porticoes and were paved with mosaics, no surprise what we liked most in Zippori were some of these mosaics but also the view from the citadel which is located in the center of the town(see other tips). Apart from the main buildings, the ancient synagogue and the citadel you can also visit the large ancient water reservoir (near the entrance of the park) that was built in 2nd century AD, had a capacity of 4,300 cubic meters of water that were coming from 2 aqueducts and served the city until 7th century.

    There’s also an ancient roman theater near the fortress where they held small events from time to time.
    We spent about 120’ in the park but someone can double this easily if you want to check every small detail.

    The entrance fee is 30NIS but we bought a green card (110NIS) that was valid for 6 national parks/archeological sites

    It’s open April-September 8-17.00, October-march 8-16.00

    scale model of Zippori view from Zippori national park Zippori National Park
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    Nile House

    by mindcrime Written Feb 15, 2014

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    The large building east to Cardo is the Nile House, opposite the bath house. The large (50x35 meters) building was constructed in early fifth century AD (during byzantine period) above some roman buildings and as expected it’s named after the numerous mosaics with scenes from Nile river.

    There are many different mosaics with figures but also some with just geometrical patterns. There’s a panel that gives information (pic 2) and explaining the numerous inscriptions in greek, quotes of Herodotus etc

    Pic 1 shows hunting scenes (lower part) and celebrations along Nile after it overflowed (upper part), the usual and so important event for Egypt economy.

    mosaic at Nile House
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    The Amazons Hunting Mosaic

    by mindcrime Written Feb 15, 2014

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    The Amazons Hunting mosaic is one of the most interesting although it’s not in good shape. There’s a sign with information there:
    The origin of the word AMAZON lies in the Greek words MAZOS, which means breast, and A, which means no. The legend tells us that these warrior women cut off their right breast in order to draw the bow more easily. Yet on this mosaic, no sign of mutilation is visible on the amazons’ breast.

    We spend some time checking their breasts (lol), both seem to be ok as in most sculptures and painting I have seen all over the world! Amazons were a nation of female warriors that were living in Scythia (modern Crimea) according to Herodotus(and Aeschylus) although others say Lybia or Pontus in Black Sea are also possible. I was impressed during the school years when they told us that amazons had no men around except some slaves with whom they had (once a year!) for getting pregnant and have some new girls in their tribe while they threw away the male children…

    Pic 2 shows the rest of the mosaic on the left side, it’s a another greek mythological figure, a centaur. They were liminal creatures, half-man half horse that were supposed to live in several region of Ancient Greece(Magnesia, Laconia, Mount Pelion, Foloi oak forest) and were used in roman mythology too.

    Amazons Hunting Mosaic
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    Orpheus House

    by mindcrime Written Feb 15, 2014

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    The Orpheus house was built in 2nd century AD at the middle of Cardo street. It was 17x28 meters building (a church was added in the middle during 6th century) and had some simple geometric patterns in most rooms but also some interesting mosaics at the dining room related to Orpheus (hence the name), the divine musician/poet of ancient Greece who could charm everyone around him, not only people but also animals and things! Check pic 2 where Orpheus playing a string instrument calms wild animals and birds.

    There are many stories about him but the most famous is the one that Orpheus travelled to the underworld to soften the hearts of Hades and Persephone so to take his dead wife Eurydice back to the land of the living (she was killed on their wedding day by a viper snake)! They agreed on one condition that he should walk in front of her without looking back until they both had reached the earth. Orpheus reached the upper world but couldn’t control himself and turned back before Eurydice do the same so she vanished forever…

    I didn’t see the relation with Orpheus in the other panels, they seem to be just scenes from daily life.

    Orpheus House Orpheus mosaic
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    Mansion from the roman period

    by mindcrime Written Feb 15, 2014

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    Not far from the citadel we walked into a building that supports/protect a mansion from the roman period. This two-story residence (45x23meters) was built during the 3rd century AD with a living room in the center and a colonnaded atrium-type courtyard while several other rooms surrounding them.

    Many rooms were paved with beautiful mosaic floors but the most impressive is by far the central room that has a large mosaic (9x7 meters in the shape of T letter) with scenes from the life of the god Dionysus. As in other mosaics in Zippori there are greek inscriptions. Dionysus was the the god of wine and ritual madness in Greek mythology, he was the youngest god in Mt.Olympus, son of mighty Zeus and the only one with a mortal mother (Semele, a priestess of Zeus).

    There are also hunting scenes, people preparing for Dionysian festivities but check closely the lower part of the Dionysus mosaic and you’ll see the Mona Lisa of the Galille (pic 2), ok you may need one or two glasses of good red wine to make the comparison… :)

    mosaic in roman mansion Mona Lisa of the Galille
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    The Synagogues Mosaic

    by mindcrime Written Feb 15, 2014

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    Although originally there were 18 synagogues in Zippori only one has been excavated. It is a 20x8 meters building that was built in 5th century AD on the north side of the town, a bit far from the center probably because Christians were taking over and jews population was diminishing.

    The synagogue has a beautiful mosaic floor that was designed like a single long carpet covering every inch of the floor. It was probably made by the same artists that made the synagogues floor in Bet Alfa national park.

    The well preserved mosaic was an unexpected shock for us because of its iconographic richness, it has a big section in the middle that shows a Zodiac circle but also some rectangular strips with bible scenes and jewish motifs and many inscriptions in greek and Aramaic.

    Pic 3 is part of the scene of the binding of Isaac when Abraham told his men to wait with the donkey “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you”, unfortunately the story is partly preserved, next strip is damaged and cant be seen.
    Pic 4 is the Zodiac circle, in the center Helius (the greek Titan God of the Sun) ascending from the sea with a horse chariot while around the circle you can see some of the twelve zodiac signs
    Pic 5 shows Sagittarius (Toxotis in greek, archer in English) one of the twelve zodiac signs, it’s a centaur (half man-half horse) wielding a bow.

    mosaic in Synagogue entering the Synagogue the Zodiac circle Sagittarius
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    Crusaders' Fortress

    by mindcrime Written Feb 15, 2014

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    Overlooking the archeological site is the crusaders fortress. It was originally built in the 3rd century AD but it was rebuilt as a two story fortress by the crusaders. For the construction they used many large stones from the roman ruins. The main door constructed by Daher el-Omar that repaired the fortress in 1745. The upper part of the fortress was used as a school in the early 20th century (until 1948).

    Once inside you realize that it’s used as a museum of the archaeological findings but was kind of boring so we went straight to the top where we had great view over the park and the surrounding landscape including the modern moshav of Zippori.

    Pic4 is the view seen west of the fortress. It was a residential area from Hellenistic to byzantine periods while in the background was the 12th century crusaders church and two ancient synagogues.

    Pic5 shows the roman amphitheatre north of the fortress. The 70meters wide theatre was constructed in early 2nd century AD and had a capacity of 4,500 but I was surprised to learn that it served only the pagan residents of the town as Jeish people avoided the plays. In our days the theater helds small events from time to time.

    Crusaders Fortress view from the fortress view from the fortress
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    The citadel

    by gubbi1 Updated Jan 29, 2011

    In the middle of the National Park of Zippori on a hill you will find the citadel. It was built by the crusaders on the remains of older structures. From the top you have a great view over the park and the surrounding landscape. Inside there is an exhibition of the various things that were found in the park during the excavations.
    Note that some corner stones of the building are sarcophagus from the romans used by the crusaders as construction material.

    Citadel, Zippori NP, IL Citadel, Zippori NP, IL Citadel, Zippori NP, IL Citadel, Zippori NP, IL Citadel, Zippori NP, IL
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    Huge Cistern of Zippori

    by gubbi1 Written Jan 29, 2011

    Here in Zippori I saw the by far largest cistern during my trip in Israel. Actually I came to the park in the afternoon. There was so much to see and I spent so much time here that I got close to closing time. People were asked to prepare for leaving, but I wanted to see the cisterns. I didn't kow that it is so large, but they told me I could go there and have a look and they would tell the security at the exit that I would come a few minutes later. So I stopped by car at the cistern and climbed into it. The cistern is a very long canyon like depot for the storage of water, which is essential here in the region. You can climb into the cistern and walk through it to leave it after maybe 100 meters on the other end. Very impressive and should not be missed!

    Cistern of Zippori, Zippori NP, IL Cistern of Zippori, Zippori NP, IL Cistern of Zippori, Zippori NP, IL Cistern of Zippori, Zippori NP, IL Cistern of Zippori, Zippori NP, IL
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    The Synagogue Mosaic

    by gubbi1 Written Jan 29, 2011

    Don't miss the mosaic of the Synagogue! It used to be the floor of a synagogue and is strongly related to the synagogues floor in Bet-Alfa National Park. Both mosaics were made by the same artists. The mosaic is well preserved and is kind of similar to the one of Bet-Alfa, sort of mass production. Have a look on my Bet-Alfa page to compare.

    Synagogue Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL Synagogue Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL Synagogue Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL Synagogue Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL Synagogue Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL
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    The Roman Villa

    by gubbi1 Written Jan 29, 2011

    On a small hill in the Park you can go inside a building which protects a huge mosaic of a roman villa. It has many different scenes related to Dionysus, the god of wine. Plates set up there explain detailed what there is to see. I recommend to spend some time here. You will be fascinated by the huge detail rich mosaic!

    Roman Villa, Zippori NP, IL Roman Villa, Zippori NP, IL Roman Villa, Zippori NP, IL Roman Villa, Zippori NP, IL Roman Villa, Zippori NP, IL
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    Amazones Hunting Mosaic

    by gubbi1 Written Jan 27, 2011

    Looking around at the mosaics you will come across a mosaic marked as the The Amazons Hunting. Amazons were the women who cut off their breasts to have it easier to use bow and arrow. If you look at the mosaic, you will see that it is half proven that these women aren't Amazons.

    Amazons Hunting Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL Amazons Hunting Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL Amazons Hunting Mosaic, Zippori NP, IL
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    Orpheus Mosaic

    by gubbi1 Updated Jan 27, 2011

    Orpheus was a mythical musician who impressed and charmed everything around him, from people to animals and things. On his weddingday his wife was killed by a snake bite. Orpheus got the permission from the god of the underworld to follow her and bring her back. Only he was not alllowed to look back, but he did this to see if she followed him out. That way he lost her forever. On the mosaic you can see Orpheus charming animals gathering around him.

    About Orpheus...

    Orpheus Mosaic, Zippori NP, Israel
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    The Nile Mosaic

    by gubbi1 Written Jan 27, 2011

    The Nile Mosaic is located in the Nile House. It shows the celebration held in old Egypt at the times when the Nile had is peak and brought fertile floodings. These allowed the egypt culture to florish and therefore this event was very important. On the mosaic you can see the Nile in the center as a band flowing horizontally through the mosaic. You will find the lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven world wonders, and a pole (the Nilometer) used as measuring device for the level of the river. I am sure you will like the mosaic and stay here for a while to enjoy it.
    As I stated in the intro I unfortunately lost some photos of this particular day, so I only can link to the webpage below, where you can have a look at some photos of the Nile Mosaic.

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    Visit the Zippori antiquities just outside town

    by Martin_S. Written Jul 4, 2005

    Just a few kilometers outside the settlement of Zippori is the ancient city of the same name where you can find some of the most fantastic mosaics that I have seen in a long time. You can see the seperate page that I have done on them, here is just an example of what you can see there.

    Zippori mosaic floor, Israel
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