View of Haifa from room.
(Photo Total: 159)
It’s Tuesday September 6, 2011. We are at the Haifa port and plan to take an excursion to visit the Tzippori Mosaics.
Today’s Temperatures: H = 89 F; L = 76 F. Forecast is clear and sunny.
8:30 AM — Breakfast! I had my usual banana pancakes; so good. Mom tried the scrambled eggs, which were unusual, with bacon. We both had orange juice.
9:30 AM — Around the world trivia. We had 14 out of 20. One of the facts was that on the maiden voyage of the first Carnival ship, it ran aground!
10 AM — Back to room to relax until later.
11-12 AM — Mom slept. I went out and played lawn Jenga. That didn’t last too long. Nobody else was there.
12:10 PM — We are coming into port. Mom took some pictures from our balcony.
Cool looking building in Haifa
12:25 PM — I went back to room after lunch (chicken pot pie – so good!) and brought Mom lunch. Dining upstairs was crowded. We enjoyed the balcony, eating and reading the Bible Lesson.
It doesn’t feel unbearable in the shade. We are taking an umbrella for shade.
1:50 PM — We meet for tour, get bus number eight. We were singled out again to go thru Xray.
2:00 PM — We left right on time. It takes 1 hour to get there.
Mona Lisa of the Galilee
Here’s the official scoop before we left:
Day 4: 06-Sep-2011
Location: Haifa, Israel
Tour: Tzippori Mosaics – HF19
Reservation Time: 02:00 PM
Total Cost *: $92.75 USD each
Guaranteed Language: English
Time: 5 hours
The town of Tzippori (Sepphoris) was located on the top of a chalk hill in Lower Galilee, west of Nazareth. Following the Roman conquest, Tzippori was declared the capital of the Galilee by the Romans in 55 B.C. Tzippori was the home of the Sanhedrin (highest judicial council of the ancient Jewish nation) in the first half of the 3rd century. The town has been diversely populated – Jews, Romans, Christians, Crusaders, Arabs. The Biblical archaeologists believe that the parents of the Virgin Mary, Anna and Joachim, were natives of Sepphoris and today there is a church standing on the site of their house.
Today Tzippori is a national park near an agricultural settlement. Archaeological digs have uncovered a Roman theatre, a Crusader citadel, network of streets and ruins of buildings. The most exciting discovery is an impressive amount of Roman and Byzantine mosaics. There is a reconstructed Roman villa whose floor is covered with 3rd century well preserved, colourful mosaics depicting scenes from Roman cults. One of the frames portrays a woman who has been called “The Mona Lisa of the Galilee”. There is the Nile mosaic building, remains of the Byzantine period with works by 5th century artists with hunting scenes and Egyptians celebrating the high waters of the Nile.
Leave Tzippori and drive through the Carmel mountains and stop for a panoramic
view from the Mukraqa. Drive via the Druze villages and return to Haifa.
Note: Guests must be able to walk 2 miles over uneven terrain with some steps. This tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility, wheelchair bound passengers or guests with walkers. Wear comfortable walking shoes and sun protection.
City of Haifa from bus as we drive toward our destination.
Miscellaneous notes along the way:
Signs are in Hebrew and Arabic and pictures, some English on some advertisements.
We are traveling along by bus, but in old days would have taken boat. Hard to understand the speaker. Drove into Zebulon.
View of Haifa from bus
Mount Carmel is one of the few places in Israel with natural forest because of the long Turkish rule. Lots of rocks and sand in other places. Jews planted trees.
We pass an Ultra Orthodox Jews, Hasidim, village — beautiful agriculture. Excellent school.
Mount Carmel comes from two Hebrew words and means the vineyard of God is here and Elijah’s cave.
Then a modern Jewish village, then an Arabic. All living in harmony, not like you see in news.
On the other hand, mosques are springing up everywhere and Christians are leaving. Like everywhere Muslims are moving in.
Some cotton fields. Cotton used to rule the world, needs lots of pesticides, cannot use the land for anything else. Four harvests here each year.
A olive tree is hollow. See below for some background on olive trees!
Olive trees and orange trees. Plant citrus even in the desert, because they have a new customer — China.
The water we are seeing is the Lake of Galilee and on left is Arab village — Jews, Christians, Muslims. No taxes if you add a holy room. Each part of family has their own floor, so some houses look like hotels.
Passed through Arab land because they are in groups and do not share as a group.
They sell all their olive oil in all Israel to Saudi Arabia.
Another village, another clan.
Looks like bare, unfinished stucco, no outside paint, etc. Ground looks like it should grow nothing. Rocky, dry.
View from Tzippori
Tzippori has no water. It comes from a spring, through two channels to an enormous underground cistern that comes down to a pipe and it pushes itself through and up the mountain. All houses have flowing water. It is from Roman times. They knew how to do it.
Ancient Tzippori was the capital of Israel, not Jerusalem. When Herod first came, Tzippori did not want him, so he had to conquer in the snow. He had to kill his Jewish wife and children, but he preserved her in honey next to his bed and talked to her.
Entrance to Tzippori
We saw many beautiful mosaics, but they closed the house at 4 PM that housed the Mona Lisa of the Galilee, which doesn’t seem right. It was the major reason why we wanted to go on the tour in the first place.
Olive trees live forever — The tour guide said that the tree itself falls apart in about 600 years, but the roots grow a new tree, and they might be 3000 years old. It will grow up through the old trunk, protected from the harsh sun, until it is strong enough to break the old trunk apart.
Tzippori Synagogue with mosaic floor.
You can walk from Galilee to Tzippori in about 1-1.5 hours, so it is possible that Jesus went daily with his father to Tzippori to be educated in one of the 18 synagogues.
Prior to loss of the temple: A synagogue was not a place of worship, but where they took money for the poor, and where they had discussions.
Another view from Tzippori
It wasn’t as hot as we expected since there was a good breeze the higher up we got. There was some shade. We were covered up much of the time. The ancient synagogue was enclosed and had some air conditioning, but it was tepid. We probably stayed there too long, not to get to the Mona Lisa, but the last part had some spectacular mosaics.
Mom in Roman theater at Tzippori
The theater was very interesting. Covered with marble meant covered with stucco. Public announcements were made at the theater, which brought the Jews in when they would have avoided. It was like soap opera, going on for 6-7 hours in the sun. Wealthy people were transported to the orchestra where they reclined on their sofas with servants or slaves to fan them.
The upper part of the seating just looked like ruins. The Arabs took the materials to build their houses. The reason the rest is standing is that it was buried under a land slide.
Fortress at Tzippori
The fortress was built by the crusaders, who were defeated by Saladin, but not treated as they had treated the Muslems.
You could look where we were and from the ship and see the borders of Jordan and Lebanon. Very close.
Ruins near fortress of Tzippori.
Satyr mosaic in Roman home.
The Pomegranate is the symbol of Israel, because there are supposedly exactly 613 seeds, the number of the extra Jewish laws. [Turns out they have 800 or so.]
6:00 PM — Back on the road to the ship.
Shop floor mosaic.
Major Roman thoroughfare of Tzippori
To count the people, you would only need to take the offerings at the temple and multiply by 10. More likely that it was here where Jesus was born because there is a Bethlehem near Tzippori. About the 5th and 6th century changed it to where it is now near Jerusalem. The Mount of Transfiguration was also moved by the bishop to where it stands now.
Detailed mosaic of nude woman.
Synagogue floor mosaic
Went past where the Battle of Armageddon is supposed to take place. It is where the battle on cavalry took place in WWI, and where a battle took place in WWII, the old and new, the past.
About 41% of the Jews are from Russia.
The German area is designed to look like Germany with red roofs and gardens.
Cheetah pounces on its prey mosaic.
7:00 PM — We are back to ship and clean up for dinner. The boat feels very cold after being out on the heat all day. They met us with cold drinks and iced hand towels.
Edges of floor in synagogue.
8:55 PM — Open seating dinner. Dinner was OK — does not compare at all to Holland America. The potato soup was very good though. We skipped dessert to get to the show.
Lion killing bull mosaic.
10:15 PM — Claire Maidin, pianist is the show. She was terrific, very vibrant, every style. Blonde hair. Played Mack the Knife in about 8 different styles. Sang some songs without playing along. Said she met her husband and he didn’t believe she could play – then she played him Flight of the Bumblebee, as she did for us. She will have a show in London soon.
Keira and Mom at Tzippori