Located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee near the city of Tiberias; the Hamat Tiberias National Park is an Israeli national park that protects the ancient archaeological site of Hamat Tiberias.
Set along the Tiberias-Zemach road, the park is named for the 17 thermo-mineral springs in the area; which flow at a temperature of about 600 ˚C / 1,112 ˚F. In fact, the springs flow into a system of underground channels leading to the Tiberias Hot Baths where there is a beautifully preserved 18th-century structure of a Turkish Hammam.
Furthermore, Hamat Tiberias National Park is also home to the magnificent Severus Synagogue; which displays one of the most breathtaking mosaics of all ancient synagogues in Israel.
History and Archeology in Hamat Tiberias National Park
So did you know that Hamat Tiberias was the sister of the ancient fortified city of Tiberias; which was founded in around 20 CE by Herod Antipas; ruler of Galilee and Transjordan. A mile apart, the two cities were inextricably linked by the therapeutic mineral springs which the people of Tiberias went to for restorative healing.
Moreover, Hamat Tiberias was surrounded by its own wall in the Byzantine period; parts of which can be seen south of the hot spring in the Hamat Tiberias National Park.
Also, Hamat Tiberias National Park is home to a beautifully restored and reconstructed version of the Severus Synagogue; which is located within the precincts of Hamat Tiberias and close to the gate of the city. In fact, the original synagogue was built around 230 CE. However, it was destroyed in the 3rd century CE with only a small piece of mosaic remaining.
Furthermore, the second synagogue had a glorious mosaic floor; which can still be seen today. It is divided into three panels which have various images ranging from zodiac signs; Helios the sun god; and the Ark of the Torah with Jewish symbols such as candelabras, a lulav, and a shofar.
After being destroyed in an earthquake at the beginning of the 5th century CE; the third synagogue was built and stood the test of time. Today, it is surrounded by glass walls for preservation and is air-conditioned and best explored on a guided tour of Hamat Tiberias National Park. In fact, other ancient synagogues were found in the Galilee area; for example, the one at Capernaum; which is one of the more complete synagogues found; dating to the Byzantine Period. We know synagogues in those days had two floors and had a basilica shape. A design was taken from Greek architecture.
The Suleiman Hamam was an ancient bath complex built around the mineral springs to provide the inhabitants of the region and traveling pilgrims with a place soak in the therapeutic waters. Built by the ruler of the Damascus District, Jezzar Pasha; in 1780, the building has been completely restored to its former glory and now serves as a museum that explores the customs of the bathers in the Hamam.
Other Interesting Sites
Other interesting sites in the Hamat Tiberias National Park include the remains of ancient Roman baths at the southern end of the site and the “Roman Spring” where visitors can feel the heat of the water and its saline taste. Lastly, I would like to invite you to one of my Sea of Galilee guided tours. Usually, on these tours, I offer also a visit to Hamat Tiberias National Park. Furthermore, with a professional private tour guide; you will enjoy an educational experience no guide book can offer you. So don’t think twice about it and book one of my Sea of Galilee private tours that I offer.
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 Y
Yom Kippur eve: 13:00 – 08:00