Jezreel & Beit She’an Valleys
Stretching for about 45km from a bit west of Nazareth southeast to the Jordan River, the largely agricultural Jezreel Valley (also known as the Plain of Esdraelon) and the Beit She’an Valley, part of the Great Rift Valley, are bounded on the south by Mt Gilboa.
Founded sometime in the 5th millennium BCE, Beit She’an – strategically situated at the intersection of the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley – has the most extensive Roman-era ruins in Israel. It was levelled in the massive earthquake of 749 CE. The struggling modern town (population 17,200) has little to offer the visitor.
Beit Alpha Synagogue
No one was more surprised than the members of Kibbutz Heftzibah when they went out to dig an irrigation channel in 1928 and uncovered a stunning, Byzantine-era (6th-century) mosaic floor. Further excavation revealed the rest of the Beit Alpha Synagogue, whose extraordinarily mosaics are among the most evocative of ages past ever found in Israel.
Surrounded by open fields where gazelles are a common sight, this moshav (cooperative settlement), 6km southeast of Kfar Tavor, is on both the Israel National Trail and a spur of the Jesus Trail. Getting There & Away Kavim bus 42 links Kfar Kisch with Afula (16.80NIS, 35 minutes, five or six daily Sunday to Friday).
Pella (Taqabat Fahl)
In the midst of the Jordan Valley are the ruins of the ancient city of Pella (Taqabat Fahl), one of the 10 cities of the fabled Roman Decapolis. Although not as spectacular as Jerash, Pella is far more important to archaeologists as it reveals evidence of 6000 years of continuous settlement. In fact, it’s regarded as the most historically significant site in all Jordan.