Attractions in the Jezreel Valley

8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Jezreel Valley

Often referred to as just HaEmek (the Valley), the large and fertile Jezreel Valley extends southeast from the Bay of Haifa to the Jordan Valley. Called the Plain of Esdraelon in the Old Testament, the region has a long and illustrious history. It was inhabited and fought over for centuries due to its strategic importance on the trade routes and the fertility of the land. Today, remnants of this history are scattered throughout the valley, from the main tourist attraction ruins of Megiddo and Beit Shean to the churches of Mount Tabor.

1 Megiddo


The main attractions in the area and forever immortalized as the site of Armageddon, thanks to the writings of St. John in the Revelations of the New Testament, Megiddo is said to be the place where the world’s last battle will take place. This ancient site has been through the wars several times in its long history. Megiddo was an important stronghold in ancient times thanks to its strategic location at the mouth of the valley, where the road splits into a western branch to Tire and Sidon (in modern Lebanon) and an eastern branch to Damascus and Mesopotamia. The extensive ruins here have been thoroughly excavated and include a Eastern temple and Double temple complex as well as an exceptionally well preserved one water system which dates back to the 9th century BC. The site is well laid out, and thanks to useful information, signs are visible around the ruins and a good one museumeven those with a woolly sense of history will enjoy a visit here.

Location: 12 kilometers west of Afula

Read also:Exploring Beit Shean

2 Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor plays an important religious role, and for many tourists here on pilgrimages, it is high on their list of things to do. For Christians, Mount Tabor is believed to be the site of Christ’s Transfiguration, and the summit is home to both a Franciscan monastery and the Basilica of the Transfiguration. Even if you are not religious, the basilica is worth a visit for its beautiful mosaics. The views of the surrounding landscape are breathtaking from the top of the mountain, and for those who enjoy activity, there are plenty of hiking opportunities in the area.

Location: 21 kilometers northeast of Afula

3 Mount Gilboa


Mount Gilboa

Mount Gilboa was the scene of one of the tragic events in Jewish history. It was here that King Saul gathered his army for battle with the Philistines and was defeated, as the witch of Endor had predicted. Saul’s sons Abinadab and Malchishua were killed, and Saul fell on his sword in despair. Today this mountain (508 metres) is a great place for nature lovers, and the more gentle pursuits of hiking and wildflower spotting are the main activities. It also makes a beautiful road trip, as a winding path leads to the top with great views over the Jezreel Valley.

Location: 23 kilometers southeast of Afula

4 Gan HaShlosha National Park

Gan HaShlosha National Park
Gan HaShlosha National Park

The Jezreel Valley is littered with ruins and important religious monuments, but if you want to get away from it all, head to this national park. Below the north side of Mount Gilboa, Gan HaShlosha National Park (“Park of the Three”) is home to a cache of relaxing pools and natural waterfalls that were once used to power a watermill. During summer weekends this is a major focal point for picnicking locals, who gather here for a taste of nature and refreshing dives to escape the heat. If you don’t like crowds, time your trip for a weekday.

Location: 15 kilometers southeast of Afula

5 Beit Shean National Park

Beit Shean National Park
Beit Shean National Park

According to the Talmud: “If the Garden of Eden is in Israel, then its gate is in Beth Shean.” The extensive Roman ruins of Beit Shean are the largest and best preserved in the country and they are a fascinating place to visit. There is evidence that the site’s history dates back to the 4th millennium BC, although what you see before you is Roman times with its theater, amphitheater, and atmospheric colonnades. If you only see one archaeological site in Israel, make it this one.

Location: 16 miles south of the Sea of ​​Galilee

6 Belvoir Castle (Kokhav HaYarden)

Belvoir Castle (Kokhav HaYarden)
Belvoir Castle (Kokhav HaYarden)

Its ruins extend above the valley plains Crusader castle built by the French Hospitallers and Belvoir for the views. The knights acquired this territory in 1168 and went on to build one of the strongest frontier fortunes in the Frankish kingdom. In 1187 it withstood an attack by Saladin, although two years later the knights were forced to surrender the castle on the promise of safe passage to Tyre. Fearing that the Crusaders might recapture the castle, the Arabs decided to destroy it in 1219, and although the Crusaders did indeed recover the area in 1241, the castle was never rebuilt. The ruins here are incredibly atmospheric, surrounded on three sides by a moat and with outer walls in the shape of a pentagon reinforced by seven towers. On the ground floor you can still distinguish the areas that would have served as storage rooms, a kitchen and a dining room, which branched off from a courtyard, which is thought to have been originally covered.

Location: 19 kilometers north of Beit Shean

7 Beit Alpha Synagogue

Beit Alpha Synagogue Karen Horton / photo modified
Beit Alpha Synagogue Karen Horton / photo modified

Within this 6th century synagogue is a beautiful and fully preserved mosaic floor that all art lovers should make sure to include their itinerary in the Jezreel Plain. The mosaic was found by chance in 1928 during the construction of an irrigation canal on the neighboring kibbutz of Hefzi-Bah. It belongs to the mosaic of Tiberias-Hamat in the Galilee region as one of the most important synagogues built during the Byzantine era.

The synagogue is a three-aisled building with a semicircular apse for the Torah shrine on the south side. The mosaic sidewalk in the center aisle consists of three parts. Just inside the doorway is a depiction of Abraham’s sacrifice, showing the bearded figure of Abraham in a long cloak holding the sacrificial knife in his right hand and his son Isaac in the left. The middle mosaic is dominated by a cosmological theme, with the sun god Helios in a chariot drawn by four horses, surrounded by the 12 signs of the zodiac. The panel at the end shows the Torah altar in the center flanked by seven-branched candlesticks. This merging of themes from the zodiac and Judaism is also found in the synagogue at Tiberias-Hamat, but while the Tiberias-Hamat mosaics are works of consummate artistic skill, at the Bet Alpha Synagogue these are more clearly and popularly drawn.

Location: Beit Alfa kibbutz, 6 kilometers west of Beit Shean

8 Ma’ayan Harod National Park

Ma’ayan Harod National Park is located near the village of Gidona at the foot of Mount Gilboa. The artificial lake here is surrounded by shady eucalyptus trees and is the source of the Harod River. Spring is supposed to be the Good on Harod whereupon Gideon selected the 300 men with whom he defeated the Midianites. In the Middle Ages this was also the scene of another battle when the Mameluke general Baibars won a decisive victory over the Mongols here in 1260. Today, the national park is a great place for swimming, camping, hiking and generally enjoying nature.

Location: 10 kilometers southeast of Afula

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