Ashkelon National Park
Meet Ashkelon National Park
Ashkelon National Park is a fascinating antiquities site, a park in which to spend time in the heart of nature, and a wonderful bathing beach – all in one.
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Points of interest
- The Canaanite Gate
- The rampart
- Mediaeval walls
- The Roman basilica
- Recreation park in the heart of nature
- Bathing beach
- Antilia wells
- Natural sand dune and kurkar (eolianite, calcareous sandstone) landscapes
- Modern 10,000 seat amphitheater for cultural events
The Canaanite Gate: The Canaanite gate in Ashkelon was built of mud and kurkar bricks. It is dated to 1850 BCE, and is considered to be the oldest vaulted gate in the world. The gate is built in the form of a 15 m long corridor, almost 4 m in height and more than 2 m wide. It appears that carts, laden with goods and drawn by oxen and donkeys, passed through it on their way to and from the port. The gate was in use for some 250 years, and was then buried under a new earth rampart. A city gate was built elsewhere, in a location that is as yet unknown.
Outside the gate, on the slope leading down to the sea, a small temple was found in which there was a statuette of a calf, 10.5 cm high, made of bronze – one of the most beautiful finds from ancient Ashkelon. Worship of the calf is identified with the ritual of El or Baal, the father of the Canaanite gods.
The Canaanite rampart: The ruins of Ashkelon are surrounded by an enormous earthen rampart. The rampart marked the borders of the settlement, in the form of a semicircle that is around 2200 m in length. This is a huge earth wall, rising to a height of 15 m, and over 30 m wide at its base. The earthen rampart was the basis for a system of fortifications and a glacis. The glacis was built of a mixture of mud bricks and kurkar, and its exterior wall was built of chiseled kurkar.
To the west there is no existing rampart, either because it was destroyed by the waves, or because it never existed at all in its land-side form. The rampart was built in the Middle Bronze Age (2000 – 1550 BCE), and served the residents of Ashkelon for over 500 years.
Mediaeval walls: The walls of Ashkelon, whose impressive remains still stand, were built by the Fatimid Muslims in the 12th century, to fortify the city against the Crusaders. The wall had four gates: Jerusalem Gate, Gaza Gate, Jaffa Gate, and Sea Gate, named for the directions in which they left the city. To the east of the Canaanite gate is an impressive section of the wall rising above a deep moat. The waves have destroyed part of the sea wall, affording impressive views of sections of the wall in which columns and other architectural elements from earlier buildings have been incorporated.
The Roman basilica: In the center of the national park are the remains of a columned structure from the Roman period (2nd century or beginning of 3rd century CE). This was the city’s basilica – a courtyard surrounded by rows of columns, whose walls and floor were made of marble. The length of the row of columns was 110 m. The basilica was the focus of public life in the city.
Bathing beach: During bathing season (April to October) there is a regulated bathing beach in the park, with lifeguard services, showers and toilets.
Antilia wells: Within the national park there are 67 wells, the majority of them from the Byzantine period. Five of these are antilia wells.
Natural sand dune and kurkar landscapes: The southern part of Ashkelon National Park is a nature reserve for the unique world of sand dune flora and fauna. Because of the arid nature of the sandy soil, and the geographic proximity to the desert dunes and the sea, the area is dominated by desert vegetation such as white broom and Artemisia monosperma, but there are also Mediterranean plants such as spiny broom. Close to the shore is a unique type of vegetation, including the sea daffodil and sea cudweed, that has adapted to the conditions of the salty spray coming from the sea.
The amphitheater: The south-eastern part of the incline of the Canaanite rampart is utilized for the seats of the modern 10,000 seat amphitheater, in which cultural events are held.
Ashkelon National ParkUseful Information
Summer: Exit by 22:00
Winter: Exit by 18:00
Beach is open:
October until Oct. 18: 08:00–17:00
From Ashkelon junction, drive along Ben Gurion Blvd. and turn left into Ben Amar St.
From the northern entrance to Ashkelon, drive along Menachem Begin Blvd., Jerusalem Blvd., Bar Kokhva St., and left into Hatayassim St.
Municipal bus no. 6. For details – Egged Information
Best season: All year round
|Adult in group||₪ 24.00|
|Child in group||₪ 12.00|
|Israeli senior citizen||₪ 14.00|
|Private car – Ashkelon resident||₪ 10.00|
|Subscription – adult||₪ 38.00|
|Subscription – child||₪ 32.00|