Korazim National Park
The ancient Jewish town of Korazim is 10 minutes from Amiad Junction. It is not a well-known tourist site, but its ruins are of interest, including its synagogue and other restored dwellings. The beginning of the town dates to the 1st century CE, although most of the ruins one sees are from the time of the Mishna and Talmud in the Roman and Byzantine periods. A short gravel footpath has been constructed around the town and makes for a very pleasant walk before visiting the synagogue and other restored buildings. It also provides impressive views of the Sea of Galilee. Korazim is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the places cursed by Jesus, together with Copernaum and Bethsaida, for rejecting his message (Mathew 11:20-24 and Luke 10:13-15).
Korazim is located at the edge of a basalt hill on the Korazim Plateau. This is an area of volcanic rock bounded to the north by the Hula Valley, to the south by the Sea of Galilee, to the west by Mount Canaan, and to the east by the Jordan River. You will notice that all the buildings are constructed from dark basalt stone. Before a new passageway was constructed, volcanic rock impeded the flow of the Jordan River and was responsible for the formation of Lake Hula and the wetlands to the north of this.
The town was first settled by Jews in the 1st century, and there was expansion in the 3rd to 6th century due to migration of Jews to the Galilee. It was partially destroyed during the 4th century, probably due to a severe earthquake, but was rebuilt. There was also a period of Jewish growth in the Islamic period in the 8th century and again in the 13th century and 15th centuries. A Bedouin tribe lived here prior to the 1948 War of Independence.
VISITING THE PARK
Directions: Enter “Korazim” into Waze.
Admission: Hours are Sunday to Thursday and Saturday: 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and Friday and holiday eves 8.00 am to 4.00 pm. In the winter, closing hours are 1 hour earlier. Their telephone number is 04 693-4982. There is a store for drinks and snacks. A brochure is available in English with a map. This is their website.
HOW DID THE PEOPLE SUPPORT THEMSELVES HERE?
An interesting question is how the people living here supported themselves. The ground is very rocky and resembles that of the Golan, which is not surprising since both are formed from volcanic rock. Because of its location, its rainfall is also rather low at 400 mm/year. However, from the agricultural machinery seen here, its inhabitants were clearly involved in agriculture. The quality of the wheat grown here is even mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (Menahot 85a). You can see a mill for grinding wheat close to the entrance. Growing wheat would therefore seem to have been an important agricultural enterprise for the town. There are also olive presses on the site. One is reconstructed at the edge of its western quarter and another is in a reconstructed building. There is a spring close to the town which is not very full, although the situation may have been different hundreds of years ago. Water cisterns have also been found close to some of the buildings.
DISCOVERING THE TOWN:
It is suggested to first go on the path around the town. The turning is just before the ritual bath and it is not yet indicated on the map in the brochure. At its end, this path brings you into the town by a dwelling with a paved courtyard and the synagogue. The distance of this path is almost a kilometer and it takes about 15 minutes.
The synagogue was built in the early 4th century, destroyed by the earthquake, rebuilt and stayed in use until the 8th century. As other synagogues, it faces towards Jerusalem. Like the other buildings in the town, it is made from basalt stone. The bima and Torah Ark were inside the hall on either side of the main entrance. You can see the archway of the synagogue, 5 of its original 12 pillars, and lion figures. The arched buildings nearby are from the Mamluke period from the 14th and 15th centuries.
A ONE-WAY HIKE TO THE SEA OF GALILEE:
A hiking trail has recently been opened from Korazim down the side of the Korazim Plateau to the Sea of Galilee. It is described as being intermediate in terms of difficulty, is fairly steep, is a distance of 4 Km and it should take about 2 hours. The gate from the village is a one-way revolving gate and it is not clear to me how easy it is to turn back into the park if you want to hike only part of the trail.
This is a mill for grinding wheat. Moving the grinder would have been done by agricultural animals.