Tzipori National Park

The Old City of Tzipori is no longer the bustling marketplace it was in the past.

Nature trails abound in this northern Galilee getaway (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Nature trails abound in this northern Galilee getaway
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The name Tzipori has a rich and varied history. The city was mentioned in biblical sources dating back to the Second Temple period and has undergone many changes over the years.
The Old City of Tzipori in the Lower Galilee was a magnificent city that underwent a number of ups and downs, including being conquered by King Herod in 47 BCE. But occupation by the Romans did not last long and artifacts have been found that show that, two centuries later, Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, the chief redactor of the Mishna, lived in Tzipori. Ultimately, the city was destroyed not by a conquering nation but by a devastating earthquake that completely flattened it in 363 CE.
The Old City of Tzipori is, of course, no longer the bustling marketplace it was in the past, but as you walk past the artifacts spread throughout the national park, you can imagine what it must have been like in ancient times.
As soon as you enter through the gates of Tzipori and ascend the steps leading to the plaza, you’ll see a map of the site and a detailed description of its historical significance.
Visitors can gaze upon the remains of a theater that held more than 4,000 people, a church roof that was built in memory of Saint Anne, the remains of a Crusader fortress that was destroyed and rebuilt by Dahir al-Umar in the 18th century, a mosaic floor that depicts the life of the god of wine Dionysus, the impressive Cardo that was lined with columns, an ancient water reservoir and aqueducts.
If looking at archeological finds and ancient ruins left by age-old battles isn’t your cup of tea, then you might consider visiting Moshav Tzipori, which was founded in 1949 at the location of an Arab village called Saffuriya.
For years, Tzipori was a sleepy village that absorbed immigrants from around the world, but it has recently had a face-lift and is now home to a variety of tourist attractions, such as the Rish Lakish Olive Press, a goat farm, a medicinal plant orchard, and of course a slew of bed-and-breakfasts with gorgeous views. One of the most unique guest houses is Mitch Pilcer’s Kfar Tzipori.
After living on the moshav for a few years, Pilcer decided in the late 1990s to build a guest village he calls Kfar Tzipori, which comprises four guest cottages that he and his wife, Suzy, built all by themselves.
Guests wake up surrounded by greenery, olive and pomegranate trees, which provide excellent shade and just the right amount of privacy. Guests can drink their morning coffee sitting on one of the many hammocks spread around the pristine lawn.
Kfar Tzipori is located at the top of a hill, and the view over the mountain ranges of the Galilee and the Jordan Valley is breathtaking. The cottages are built in a rustic, country style and are equipped with modern conveniences to make your vacation comfortable and relaxing.
Each cottage has a bedroom, a loft for children and a living area. Although the lodgings are amazing, there is so much to do in this area that you won’t have time to hang out there much.
For example, the Pilcers built a “fortress” that was inspired by the Crusader fortress located in the Tzipori National Park, which can actually be seen from Kfar Tzipori. The Pilcer’s fortress is three stories high and houses 7 bedrooms, which is perfect for extended families or groups of friends. On the top floor, there is a large wooden balcony with a fantastic view.
Next to the fortress you’ll find an ecological swimming pool that looks like a pond with a waterfall. The pool water is pumped up and then falls over water plants, which clean the water, and as a result no chemicals are needed to keep the water healthy. In addition, fish and frogs live in the pond. Although from this description the pool might not sound very inviting, you get used to the animals that are sharing their home with guests pretty quickly, and the refreshing feeling you get from wading under a waterfall in nature is absolutely amazing.
The story of how the pool got built is actually a bit wild. While Pilcer was digging up stones to build the pool for his guest house, he discovered what he claims is the grave of the renowned Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi, a rabbi who lived in third century who is quoted in the Talmud.
Pilcer was shocked when he came upon Aramaic words etched on the stone, and so he decided to arrange the area so that people could freely approach the grave. He didn’t want people who came to visit the holy rabbi’s grave to be able to see into his pool area, so he constructed a wall between the two areas.
In addition to visiting the Tzipori National Park or staying in a cottage in Moshav Tzipori, visitors who are also looking for a bit of a physical challenge can set out on a trail from the northern edge of the moshav that reaches the national park, and then retrace their steps back to the moshav. But be aware that the last section leading back up to the moshav is quite steep.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.