Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations


Home > Jerusalem > National Parks | Picnic Spots | Places of Interest
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published July 30th 2018
Famous for its infamy

'Woe to you Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida' (Luke 10:13). Only the most attentive Bible reader will know and remember Chorazin, but for visitors to the Sea of Galilee, it's a definite hidden gem.

Its fame, or rather its infamy, comes from the two references to it in the Bible (Matthew 11:20 and Luke 10:13). Jesus curses it, saying that its fate will be worse than in Tyre and Sidon if inhabitants do not repent. Now the ancient ruins stand in the middle of a national park area, easy to access by road, and extremely beautiful.

chorazin, galilee, jesus
A peaceful site and easy to navigate

One of the best preserved single buildings is a synagoge. The signs excitedly proclaim that there is a strong likelihood Jesus preached here, given his reference to Chorazin in Luke. People who are more sceptical may not agree with this, but even the fact that the claim can be made gives a sense of the age of the site, which makes it fascinating in its own right. The synagogue itself is certainly not first century, but rather built in the third century, then destroyed and rebuilt.

chorazin, galilee, jesus
The synagogue

It includes an unusual feature of some 3D stone lion carvings. Further around the site, I was more surprised to see what looked like a Medusa head repurposed in a Jewish / Christian context.

The main block of this 25 acre site includes public buildings and a ritual bath (mikveh), alongside residential buildings. Chorazin was not inhabited until the first century AD, so was still new in the time of Jesus, which makes the strong condemnation found in Luke feel even more striking. Excavations took place in 1962-64, and again in 1980-87, but there may yet be more to do, and more to find.

chorazin, galilee, jesus
Inside the synagogue

The site is set up as though it were expecting more visitors. Paths are well laid out, making access easy. There are picnic tables under trees, offering welcome shade and a great place to sit and eat, read, think or just dream. Other facilities are much more limited, but there are toilets and a small shop. A reasonable amount of free parking is also provided, and the ubiquitous brown tourist signs mark it out easily from the road (as Korazim). Information notices are scattered around the site, with a whole display outside the synagogue. Its single reference in the Bible has made it a source of wonder for people throughout history, and both its material remains and its imaginative force are commemorated.

chorazin, galilee, jesus
Commemorating Chorazin

Bethsaida, the other cursed city, is now part of a park across the border in Jordan, so is less easily reachable for a traveller in Israel. Still, both Tabgha and Capernaum are only about ten minutes away by car. You would need a car, as it's in a remote area, just out of site of the Sea of Galilee. Chorazin might have faded into oblivion were it not for its biblical mention. Instead, while the condemnation from Jesus speaks to its physical destruction, it has very much kept it alive in our religious and historical imagination. One of the least known biblical sites, it's consequently quiet, and all the more lovely a place to visit as a result. It would only take half an hour to wander around, but you may want to stay longer just to enjoy it.

chorazin, galilee, jesus
Looking over the main block of ruins
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  10
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? Famous for being infamous
When: Apr-Sept 8am-5pm; Oct-Mar 8am-4pm; Fridays and eves of holidays, 8am-3pm. Last entry to site one hour before closing time.
Where: Korazim
Cost: free
Your Comment
Articles from other cities
Popular Articles