Tel Hazor – Ayelet HaShahar, Israel - Atlas Obscura

Tel Hazor

Ayelet HaShahar, Israel

A Biblically notable site over the ruins of an ancient city that is now a protected World Heritage site. 


“And Joshua at that time turned back and took Hazor and smote the king thereof with the sword, for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.” - Joshua 11:10

In 2005 UNESCO designated three biblical tells as World Heritage Sites in Tel Megiddo, Tel Beersheba, and Tel Hazor. The largest of the three tells, Tel Hazor occupies over 200 acres just north of the Sea of Galilee and has yielded some of the most impressive archaeological finds from the ancient Near East to date. Of particular note are both the Canaanite Orthostat and Stele Temples, as well as the Solomonic gate system dating to the Iron Age.

Much of Hazor’s fame is directly tied to the conquest narrative found in the book of Joshua, where the Israelites are said to have burned the Canaanite city to the ground. While many archaeologists doubt the historical authenticity of these claims, there is little question that the Canaanite city was one of the grandest of its time. Today, tourists can explore the majority of the Upper City, which includes the Solomonic city gates, a restored Late Bronze Age temple, and the city acropolis. Moreover, excavations are still held annually each summer and are open to the public pending fees and applications - and of course the ability to withstand early mornings, hard work, and the Israeli sun.

Know Before You Go

From either north or south, take the exit for the Rosh Pina-Kiryat Shmona road (no. 90) toward Ayelet HaShahar. Of the three World Heritage biblical tels in Israel, Tel Hazor is by far the least visited. 

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