JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

CHORAZIN-One of the three cities cursed by Jesus (Mathew 11:21). Today a National Park with many remains from 4th century onwards.

Chorazin (Korazin or Korazim) was one among the three cities known as the 'Evangelical Triangle' (others are Bethsaida and Capernaum) where Jesus spent much of his ministry. The city mentioned twice in the Bible (Mathew 11:21 and Luke 10:13), is more remembered as one of the cities Jesus cursed.

"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you" (Mathew 11:20-21).  Due to the condemnation of Jesus, some early Medieval writers believed that the Antichrist would be born in Chorazin-records wikipedia.

Located 5 KM north to the 'Sea of Galille' and 900ft above the sea level, Chorazin is now part of a 25 acre Israeli National Park. The site was first excavated by C. Wilson in 1869, followed by several more until 1980s. This under-explored site, mostly due to its isolated location, has some fascinating archaeological remains to offer built in black basalt rocks. An imposing 3rd to 4th century synagogue, a 1600 years old stone seat with an Aramaic inscription that reads "Chair of Moses," ancient olive presses, Jewish ritual baths and remains of several stone sculptures with geometric and floral motifs are a few of them. More details are appended with photographs below.

Most of the remains you see today are from 4th century onwards. A quest for the synagogue at the time of Jesus has been extensively sought, but not discovered so far. In 1926, a first century synagogue was reported 200 M west of the present ruins, but never found by later excavators. However, there is a high probability that the first century synagogue is located very near these ruins. We do know that Chorazin was established in the first century from ancient records, but are yet to find its traces. Chorazin is also mentioned in Jewish Talmud.

For us the most difficult part was to walk the 2 KM stretch from the Korazim junction to the park  and return, under the scorching sun of Israel. But, it was an experience to cherish.

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