Enjoy the medieval atmosphere of Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a fascinating historical city, once the largest port of ancient Canaan. Excavations that commenced in 1985 have uncovered evidence of many different ruling entities such as Canaanite, Philistine, Hellenistic, Roman, Islamic and Crusader.
Built upon sandstone, Ashkelon also has a good supply of underground water. The city was flourishing in ancient times protected by massive walls and a large arched city gate (now the oldest in the world). Ashkelon was protected from naval attack by a tall natural bluff. Many idols have been discovered in the town, one of which is a silver calf housed in a sanctuary. Icons of bulls and calves were used in the worship of El and Baal, two Canaanite gods.
Approximately 1150 BCE the Philistines occupied Ashkelon. The city was the last Philistine stronghold to stand before Babylonian forces; however it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 604 BCE. Ashkelon was rebuilt and came to serve as a Hellenistic seaport. Herod the Great provided the city with much wealth and it thrived throughout the Roman and Byzantine eras. After a drawn-out siege Ashkelon was taken over by the Crusaders. Islamic rulers who later occupied the city, began to systematically destroy the city so that it would not come under the power of the "infidel".
The modern city of Ashkelon developed from the Arab town called Al Majdal. Over many years the city was involved in the Arab-Israeli war. Under Israeli rule, Arab families were forced to leave the city. Since then Ashkelon has grown into a vibrant city with a new sports complex and impressive culture hall.
Ruins of the ancient city of Ashkelon can be seen in the National Park just 2km south. The remains date throughout the ages and are surrounded by the great wall built by the Crusaders. These archaeological wonders will astound you. Also in the park is a camping site, restaurants, picnic spots and a lovely beach.
Within the city of Ashkelon you can see the grand Roman Painted Tomb in Hatayasim Street. The tomb is magnificently decorated with frescoes of nymphs, animals and other fantastical scenes. Across from the Tourism Office you can observe two Roman sarcophagi.
Ashkelon's hotels offer excellent service and good value for money. There are a variety of hotels in Ashkelon to choose from so you are certain to find one to suit your needs and budget.
Israel's Ashkelon is a fascinating holiday destination that will engage your mind and leave you feeling enlightened.