(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The sleepy city of Beit She’an, which has long been known as the capital of the Valley of Springs (Emek Hama’ayanot), offers many surprises for visitors, such as beautiful historic buildings, relics from ancient times and lots of fascinating residents. This valley, which really is rich in springs, has been an important population center throughout history. The first known settlement was established 7,000 years ago; archeologists have uncovered remains from a Jewish community that existed there during the Second Temple period.Later, the Greeks fell in love with the city that lies at the foot of the Gilboa Mountains, so they renamed it Scythopolis, possibly after Scythian mercenaries who settled there. This powerful metropolis was destroyed only as a result of two strong earthquakes that hit the region in 659 and 749 CE. Despite this, the city was not completely abandoned and people continued to inhabit the area continuously under various rulers. Only in 1949 – exactly 1,200 years later – did the construction of the modern city of Beit She’an begin.