Which are the top 10 archaeological sites in Israel? The Holy Land is blessed with so much archaeology that is hard to actually narrow it down to just 10! But here is my short list of the must-see archeological sites in the Holy Land!
Tel Megiddo is undoubted of my Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Israel, Tel Megiddo National Park is the home of one of the most impressive archaeological tels to date. The site that was thoroughly excavated had unearthed over 30 layers, 6,000 years of civilization! The city-state was built at an important strategic point on an ancient international road – The Road of the Sea. So that is why it was chosen by UNESCO TO become a World Heritage Site since it is one of the best examples of a Biblical city. You can explore Megiddo and other sites in the area by joining my Jezreel Valley Day Tour.
In the Book of Revelation, Megiddo is mentioned as the place of the final battle between the forces of good and evil, in other words, the Armaggedon. Accordingly, Megiddo became an essential site for Christians and was even included in Pope Paul VI’s one-day visit to Israel.
The following site on my Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Israel would be Caesarea Maritima. The city and harbor were built under Herod the Great during c. 22–10 or 9 BCE near the site of a former Phoenician naval station known as Straton Tower. Moreover, in the Byzantine period, the city became the Capital of the province and an important Christian center. It’s a real archeological gem right on the Med Sea.
You can see today the beautifully preserved ruins from the Roman period, including the Roman aqueduct. You can still see the ruins of the Octagonal Church from the Byzantine period and the little cathedral built in the Crusader era next to it. Including the fortifications and a stunning crusader gate. I recommend taking my Day Tour of Caesarea and exploring this fantastic site.
Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Israel: Masada
This list can not be complete without Masada. Herod the Great built Masada as a fortress to escape if necessary, and his winter palace. Among the ruins is King Herod’s Palace, which sprawls over three rock terraces, and a Roman-style bathhouse with mosaic floors. In addition, you should visit The Masada Museum has archaeological exhibits and recreations of historical scenes. Usually, I take my guests to the Museum on my Day Tour of Masada.
The City of David
The City of David in Jerusalem is the biblical tel of the Holy City. Ironically you can find it today outside the city walls dating to the Ottoman period. You can see the ancient water systems of the city, like Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Gihon Spring. In addition, homes that date to the Israelite period. Also, you can find the famous Pool of Siloam and much more!
Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Israel: Temple Mt.
Temple Mt. is one of the most important sites you should visit while touring Israel. Moreover, this is where the First Temple and Second Temple were built. Today you will see the staggering Golden Dome and the Al Aqsa Mosque. Both are dated to the Early Muslim Period. For a tour of Temple Mt, you should join one of my Jerusalem Day Tours.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the site where Jesus was crucified and buried. Therefore, it’s one of the holiest sites for Christianity. But there you can find lots of fascinating remains. For example, tomb systems dated to the Second Temple period. Ruins of a Roman Temple to the 2nd century and much more! You can read more about places to visit nearby in my Christian Quarter Guide.
Israel Museum in Jerusalem
I know that technically The Israel Museum is not supposed to be on my Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Israel. But If you dig archaeology (pun intended), you must visit the Israel Museum since the most important archaeological finds are on display there. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept at the Shrine of the Book. A very impressive model of Second Temple Jerusalem. And the new archeological wing that archeological buffs must not skip.
Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Israel: Beit Shean
After 15 years of excavations, restoration, preservation, and development, Beit Shean National Park is one of Israel’s largest and most impressive sites. The remains of the city’s glorious past from the Roman-Byzantine era – the theater, the bathhouse, the city streets, the columns, the colorful mosaics, and more!
Beit Shean is one of the oldest cities in the Land of Israel, beginning about 7,000 years ago. The city was Located strategically on the primary highway of ancient times, the Via Maris, connecting Egypt with Mesopotamia (Damascus). So, if you want to see what an ancient city looked like, visiting Beit Shean National Park is a great option. In addition, you can climb up to the archaeological tel where you can have a fantastic panoramic view over the area.
In Arad National Park, you will find the remains of a fortified Canaanite city about 5000 years old, one of the oldest in the world. A deep water well was discovered in the town, the “Arad House” – a unique residential building for the period, a ritual complex, and more! On the upper mound, there are citadels from different periods since the days of the Kingdom of Judah, which contain the remains of a temple, an impressive cistern, and a variety of 91 ostracon-broken pottery that was used for writing.
Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Israel: Capernaum
So, last on our list would be no other than the biblical Capernaum. For many, just the word ‘Capernaum’ is enough to transmit the vital meaning of the site. But for those who haven’t heard about Capernaum, allow me to elaborate: According to what is told in the New Testament, Jesus made Capernaum the center of his activity for a long time. In addition, Capernaum is where a couple of the twelve apostles (Saint Peter and his brother Andrew) lived with Jacob, the Son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Moreover, this is where Jesus preached, healed, and gathered the very first followers.
While touring Capernaum today, you can see the ruins of the Biblical town, including the House of Peter. The ancient synagogue where Jesus taught and healed. Visiting the site gives you the sense of a 2nd temple or biblical town. You can learn a lot about Capernaum on my Christian Galilee Tour.