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Capernaum (Kfar Nahum)

Capernaum National Park, or Kfar Nahum National Park, is home to the archaeological remains of the ancient city of Capernaum.

Capernaum was first established during the Hellenistic period and was a large Jewish fishing village.

At the end of the Second Temple period it expanded greatly. 

Excavations revealed that the houses of the Second Temple period had a large courtyard surrounded by rooms.

During the Late Roman and Byzantine periods it became a prosperous town along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The inhabitants were fishermen, farmers and merchants.

The Synagogue

The synagogue of Capernaum was an impressive structure.

It was built of large, white limestone blocks from the hills of Galilee and stood out among the buildings of grey basalt surrounding it.

The synagogue was built on a platform elevating it from it by streets on all four sides.

It had a decorated, southern façade towards Jerusalem like the synagogues in Korazim and Beit She’arim.

The synagogue consisted of a prayer hall, a courtyard, and an entrance porch running along the façade of the entire building.

Staircases, on both sides of the entrance porch, led to the synagogue and the prayer hall was reached from the courtyard by a single entrance.

The hall was divided by a row of columns topped with Corinthian capitals.

Stone benches were placed along the western and eastern walls.

The Courtyard was constructed at a later date and was also divided by columns.

One section was a central, unroofed part, with three covered porticos along the walls, except for the wall shared with the prayer hall.

The synagogue was decorated with a white limestone relief of very high quality and included a number of motifs unknown from other ancient synagogues.

Hundreds of fragments of decorated masonry elements were found in a heap covering the remains of the synagogue, scattered nearby, or in secondary use.

These decorations once embellished the upper part of the building, mainly its outside, but despite the abundance of decorations that survived, it could only be partially restored.

The façade was adorned with floral, faunal, and geometric patterns and the Corinthian capital were carved with seven-branched menorah.

One unique stone relief is a cart bearing what looks like the Ark of the Covenant being borne into battle against the Philistines.

After the destruction of the Second Temple synagogues were created as a substitution and were made as elaborate as possible.

Visit Capernaum

The best way to get to Capernaum National Park is by car though technically it is possible to get there via public transit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

For more information, such as open hours and entrance fees, see the Capernaum National Park webpage.

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