Hamat Tiberias National Park
Hamat Tiberias Mosaic © Bukvoed
The 17 springs of Hamat Tiberias have been used since antiquity to cure various ailments. In fact, the springs were so renowned for their healing properties and the relief they provided for various maladies that people were permitted to bath in them without censure on the Sabbath. The pools and various spa facilities and treatments are still the greatest draw for visitors, but there are some cultural attractions as well.
Built between 337 and 286 BC, the Hamat Tiberias synagogue contains the oldest surviving mosaic floor in Israel. The central mosaic is a beautifully preserved design representing a large zodiac. Helios (Greek sun god) is at its centre, guiding his celestial chariot in the direction of the sun. The Hammam Suleiman Museum is also located in the park and is situated right at the entrance.
Although there are some walking trails, those looking for an unspoilt wilderness area may be disappointed. The popularity of the springs has led to the area becoming quite built up, and it is frequently crowded. On the plus side, visitors will find shower and changing-room facilities, and lockers for personal belongings. The park has a restaurant but visitors can also picnic.