Saturday, May 23, 2009


In keeping with our recent Saturday tradition, the boy and I visited the ancient city of Zippori (or here for Hebrew) this morning. We set out at 6am as usual and followed Phillipa the GPS's directions, we promptly got totally lost in Nazareth but still managed to arrive at Zippori before the gates opened.

We were the first visitors of the day, we paid our 25NIS each and had the whole park to ourselves for two hours. I have never seen Zippori before and I found it stunning. The mosaics are breathtaking, I enjoyed every second of the visit. Nothing I could write can do justice to the craftsmanship of the Roman mosaic artists (click on the pictures to get larger versions). There are hundreds of different works, each spectacular. What are these guys doing, drinking, talking or gambling?
Many of the floors designs are as timeless as anything you would see today. Look at these perfect geometrical designs

Zippori was destroyed by an earthquake in 363 CE and many of the floors only partial pictures, but somehow that only enhances their beauty . Zippori was destroyed and rebuilt many times during it's history. Originally thought to have been built during the time of the first temple, Zippori was conquered by the Romans around 55 BCE. For many years it was a mixed Jewish, Roman settlement.
Rabbi Judah Hanasi moved here with the Sanhedrin and built many synagogues and it is here that he reputedly wrote down the Mishnah. During the Byzantine period, churches were built and the Crusaders built a fortress.

The Dionysus House, a mansion that was destroyed in the 363 CE earthquake, houses the famous mosaic of "Mona Lisa of the Galilee", it is stunning. I was fascinated with the Roman era toilets, complete with bathroom tiles.

We visited the ancient synagogue and the Roman theater. Here blacksono is looking back in time at a Roman passion play .

On our way out we stopped at the water reservoir. I have developed a fascination for ancient water systems in this dry land. The aqueduct was cut into a fault in the rock and spans 250M. It was a wonderfully cool walk down in the tunnels. Incredible to think this all was carved out by hand.

As usual there was all sorts of wildlife out in the early morning. This guy has probably seen it all.

All in all I recommend Zippori. The mosaics alone make it worthwhile.

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