January 2nd 2015
An ancient military stronghold and center of international commerce, Meggido has served as a destination of importance since long before the times of the bible, and the site continues to attract scores of visitors to Israel today. Located in the Lower Galilee at the western entrance to the Jezreel Valley, about 28 miles southeast of Haifa, Megiddo is a strategic hill located above an ancient land route. In 2005, UNESCO named Megiddo a World Heritage Site, and it remains one of the most important sites of biblical archaeology in the world today.
Due to its strategic importance as a Middle East trade route hub, various civilizations sought control of Megiddo. Scores of ancient battles were fought for the right to rule from here, and Megiddo changed hands many times. In ancient times, it was a heavily fortified city. A thousand years later, it was a center of government for ancient Egypt in the days when Egypt ruled over Canaan. Megiddo is mentioned often in the Old Testament and New Testament alike. The prophetess Deborah, it is written in the Book of Judges, overcame the enemy Canaanites “by the waters of Megiddo.” The site is well known to Christians as the prophesied eventual location of the battle of Armageddon, a word that probably comes from Har Megiddo, the Hebrew name of the site.
Since 1994, the excavations at Megiddo are coordinated by Tel Aviv University in cooperation with George Washington University and a coalition of four other US-based universities. Twenty-six layers of ruins have already been excavated at the site, indicating a long and complex history of civilizations building on the ruins of those who came before. The site contains remains of massive temples, grand fortifications, ancient, luxurious palaces and water systems.
A museum on the grounds of Megiddo National Park allows visitors to better appreciate the complexities of the location with explanatory displays and a compelling audiovisual presentation. A guided tour of the area, available by reservation, takes one to two hours. Be sure not to miss the underground water system, whose origins date back to the time of King Solomon, approximately 2900 years ago. It’s considered a marvel of ancient engineering.
Other highlights include the panoramic lookout on the northern side of hill itself and the evidence of shaded structures that were built for the comfort of ancient pilgrims who came to Megiddo to pray. There is also a souvenir shop on the grounds of the park.