Beit Shean National Park protects and preserves the ancient ruins of one of the oldest cities in Israel. Located in the Jezreel Valley region of northern Israel where the Jezreel Valley and Jordan Valley meet; Beit Shean National Park; also known as Beisan or Scythopolis; was a glorious Roman and Byzantine city with deep religious significance. Today, the site rests in the Beit Shean National Park and is one of the country’s largest archaeological sites.
History of Beit Shean National Park
So Beit Shean has first settled about 6,000 years ago during the Chalcolithic era and remained continually inhabited for centuries thereafter. Moreover, archeological discoveries show evidence of habitation by the Canaanites; the Israelites; and the Philistines; and the city is mentioned several times in the Bible. King Saul and his sons were hung from the city walls.
During the reign of King David and King Solomon; the city remained a thriving metropolis. Additionally, it was renamed Scythopolis after the Scythian mercenaries who settled there as veterans during the following Hellenistic period. Then it went on to become a flourishing Roman city and provincial capital in the Decapolis regional league. An earthquake in the 4th century CE destroyed much of the city and it never returned to its former glory. After that, Beit Shean was occupied by the Crusaders; Mamluks; Ottomans; British, and finally the Israelis.
Beit Shean National Park is an Archeological Paradise
The glorious city of Beit Shean is preserved in the Beit Shean National Park; which features fascinating archaeological remains from each period of the city’s long and revered history. The site has been reconstructed to give visitors an idea of what the city would have looked like and they can see beautifully preserved structures from the Canaanite; Egyptian, and Roman eras.
Today Beit Shean national park features a 79-foot-long central Palladius street. Paved with basalt stone slabs and lined with colonnades. And a magnificent Byzantine public bath; plus a semi-circular plaza with a rare mosaic depicting the figure of Tyche; goddess of the city’s fortune. Other points of interest include the ancient city walls; artisan workshops; stores; a Roman temple! and an amphitheater that is still in use today.
The Beit Shean Light Show: This is a breathtaking audiovisual display! It takes visitors on a journey into life during Roman times; by bringing the ancient stones to life through state-of-the-art lighting and sound. Not to be missed!
Beit Shean in the Bible
During your tour of Ancient Beit Shean; you can climb to the ancient biblical tel and check out the amazing panoramic view of the Jordan Valley; and the Mountains of Moab. Moreover, on top of the tel, there are remains of the home of the Egyptian governor from the Bronze Age! Sadly the steles the archaeologists found there, as well as the rest of the archeological finds were all sent to museums. But you can visit the Israel Museum and Rocafller museum in Jerusalem and still check them out!
The entrance to the park closes one hour before closing time
Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 17:00 – 08:00
Friday and holiday eves: 16:00 – 08:00
Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 16:00 – 08:00
Friday and holiday eves: 15:00 – 08:00
Holiday eves: 13:00 – 08:00
Yom Kippur eve: 13:00 – 08:00