The Ancient Jewish Town of Korazim
The ruins of the ancient Jewish town of Korazim close to Lake Kinneret are of interest because of its synagogue and restored dwellings. The town was first settled in the 1st century CE, although most of the ruins are from the time of the Mishnah and Talmud, from the Roman and Byzantine periods. A gravel footpath has been laid around the town and with its impressive views of Lake Kinneret makes for a very pleasant walk before visiting the restored buildings. Korazim is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the places cursed by Jesus, together with Capernaum 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 plateau is an area of volcanic rock bounded to the north by the Hula Valley, to the south by Lake Kinneret, to the west by Mount Canaan, and to the east by the Jordan River. You will notice that all the buildings in the town are constructed from dark basalt stone. The volcanic rock originally flowed from the Golan, impeded the flow of the Jordan River, and was responsible for the formation of Lake Hula and the wetlands to the north of it.
The town was first settled by Jews in the 1st century CE, and it expanded in the 3rd to 6th century when Jews migrated to the Galilee. It was partially destroyed during the 4th century, probably due to a severe earthquake, but was rebuilt. A period of Jewish growth occurred in the Islamic period in the 8th century and again in the 13th century and 15th centuries. Prior to Israel's 1948 War of Independence, a Bedouin tribe lived here.
VISITING THE PARK:
Directions: Enter “Korazim” into Waze.
Admission: This is a site of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. 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. Closing hour in the winter is 1 hour earlier. A brochure with a map is available in English. There is a store that sells drinks and snacks. Their telephone number is 04 693-4982. This is their website.
Public transport: Enter "Korazim" into Moovit. There is a close bus stop at which a bus between Hatsor Hagliglit and Almagor stops a few times a day. There are also buses to Amiad Junction, which is a 1.5 Km 18-minute walk away.
An olive presss
How did the townspeople of Korazim support themselves?
The ground around Korazim is somewhat rocky and resembles the Golan, which is to be expected since both were formed from volcanic rock. The rainfall here is also somewhat low at 400 mm/year. Nevertheless, as can be seen from the ancient agricultural machinery found here, its inhabitants were clearly involved in agriculture.
There is an ancient mill for grinding wheat just inside the entrance to the village, and growing wheat was an important agricultural enterprise. The superior quality of the wheat grown in Korazim is even mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (Menahot 85a). A reconstructed olive press is seen at the edge of its western quarter and there is another in a reconstructed building.
The town had sources of water. There is a spring close by. It is not currently very full, but the situation may have been different hundreds of years ago. Water cisterns have also been found close to some of the buildings.
It is suggested to first go around the town on the footpath. The turning is just before the ritual bath. This path brings you back into the town by a dwelling close to the synagogue with a paved courtyard. The length of the footpath is almost a kilometer and the walk takes about 15 minutes.
The synagogue was built in the early 4th century CE, was destroyed by an earthquake, rebuilt, and remained in use until the 8th century. As for other synagogues in the Galilee, it faces towards Jerusalem. The bima (raised platform) and Torah Ark were in the hall on either side of the main entrance. You can appreciate the archway of the synagogue, 5 of its original 12 pillars, and lion figures.
The arched buildings nearby are from the Mameluke period from the 14th and 15th centuries.
ONE-WAY HIKE TO THE SEA OF GALILEE:
A hiking trail has been opened from Korazim that descends from the side of the Korazim Plateau to Lake Kinneret. It is described as being intermediate in terms of difficulty, is fairly steep, is a distance of 4 Km, and 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 wish to hike only part of the way.l.
This is a mill for grinding wheat. Rotating the grinder would have been done by agricultural animals.
A sign showing the agricultural machinery found here.