Top Sites to Visit in Samaria

March 19th 2013

Samarian MountainsSamaria (or in Hebrew, Shomron) served as the capital of the Israelite Kingdom during the First Temple Period. Today, the Samaria region stretches from the Tel Aviv area to the edge of Binyamin. Apart from the city of Ariel, it consists of small to medium-sized settlements and large stretches of pristine landscape.

Samaria is famous for its boutique wineries. One of these is the Tura Winery in Rechelim, a family-owned business producing wines, apple cider and olive oil. The visitors’ center takes guests on a 40-minute tour, including wine and cider tastings. Finish the tour by purchasing some of the fine products made at this winery.

The Givot Olam organic farm is situated on a hilltop in Itamar, overlooking breathtaking mountains. The farm produces eggs and dairy products, while taking care to treat the animals with kindness and respect. Tour the chicken coops, goatherds and dairy and hear explanations of the organic process. If ordered in advance, you can enjoy a dairy meal served in the farm’s café, while enjoying the spectacular view.

The Samaritans are an ancient sect which broke away from the Jewish people, living according to their interpretation of the written Torah and don’t accept the rabbinic Oral Law. They continue to practice animal sacrifices, a ritual discontinued by the Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple. A thriving community of Samaritans resides on Mount Gerizim and maintains a museum, which tells the story of the Samaritan culture and its traditions. The peak of Mount Gerizim provides a view of the city of Nablus (Shechem) and the Tomb of Joseph (both of which cannot be visited by Jews today).

Sebastia National Park reveals the archaeological remains of the capital city of King Ahab. The site features the tallest pillars found from this period, an amphitheater, a pagan temple and the largest basilica found in Israel. However, please note that this park is not open to the public and can be visited by advance arrangements and on certain dates.