Beit Shean

Overview

Introduction

Beit Shean, located 75 mi/120 km north of Jerusalem, is home to a national park that boasts one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in Israel. Covering 400 acres/161.8 hectares, the ruins date back more than 5,000 years and consist of several layers of cities from different ages (one built over the foundations of another). To date, only about one-tenth of the ancient cities have been uncovered.

The best-preserved ruins at the site are from the Greek and Roman eras. Visit the Roman Amphitheater and the wide colonnaded Palladius Street, which the Byzantines restored (rooms off the street have mosaic floors). From the tel (hill), there are excellent panoramic views of the ruins and the Galilee area. Many of the excavations in the park can be worked by volunteers (digs are conducted June-September). The park is open 8 am-4 pm.

In town, there's a museum tracing the history of the various settlements. The ruins of a 12th-century Crusader's castle (specifically, of the French Knights Hospitallers) can be seen in nearby Belvoir. The Beit Shean area is usually seen as a stop on the road from Jerusalem to Tiberias.

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