Since its establishment, more than 5,000 years ago, Ashkelon has been situated on a strategic crossroads, the ancient Via Maris. For this reason she attracted many conquerors; and fine wines, agricultural produce and other goods were exported from her unique sea port. An impressive abundance of cultural influences have left numerous testimonies from the past in the city - archaeological remains have been discovered, and are continuously being discovered in the city, all the time.
With all due respect to the well-kept beaches and attractions for the whole family, a visit to Ashkelon will not be complete without a direct encounter with the city’s exciting past, which is considered to be one of the most ancient cities in the world.
On a sandstone hill in Yefe Nof Street lies a Roman tomb, its walls are decorated with figures of gods, animals and plants.
Another tomb is situated near it, it was first discovered in Eli Cohen Street when some engineering work was done there and it was moved here in 1993. It was built in Roman times and was cast in concrete containing crushed shells, ashes and small stones, in a pit that was dug in the sand. It features a central hall with an arched roof, surrounded by arched niches. A square yard was found on the outside.
To get here: Yefe Nof St., to the east of the marina.
The Tomb of Sheikh Hussein (Ben Ali)
A place of pilgrimage, in memory of Sheikh Hussein (Ben Ali), grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who ruled in the seventh century, was found in the grounds of Barzilai Hospital. The large, gleaming white structure of the tomb, with the carefully tended lawn that encircles it today was built in the ninth century. This Mishhad (tomb) is a focus for Dawoodi Bohra, a Shi'ite sect, pilgrims. Annually, the Dawoodi Bohra come on pilgrimage to the Shi’ite centers in Ashkelon, Damascus and Cairo.
To get here: Barzilai Hospital, Hahistadrut St.
The Archaeological Gallery, Ashkelon Academic College
This beautiful and unexpected gallery, within the complex of Ashkelon’s Academic College, gives us a glimpse into the rich history of the city. In this interesting layout you will find ceramic and stone statues from ancient times, coins from different periods, jars and urns, ancient sarcophagus, decorative marble slabs, and other items that were discovered in the area.
* The Congress Center that is situated within the grounds of the Ashkelon College is a non-profit organization and its proceeds are put back into the southern community by way of student scholarships, cultural activities for southern residents, and more. It has three different sized auditoriums, all furnished with state-of-the-art equipment and they combine design and leading futuristic technology. There are two restaurants on the premises. This site, which is considered a spectacular work of architecture, also offers a rich repertoire of plays, concerts, cinema and more. Parking is free and there is full access for the handicapped and aids for the hearing impaired.
To get here: 12 Yitzhak Ben Zvi St., Ashkelon. Individual entrance is free of charge (between 8:00 - 20:00). Call to coordinate a group visit:
Tomb of Sheikh Awad, Bar Kokhba Promenade
A large tomb from the Mamluk period (13-16 centuries AD), surrounded by an impressive domed structure. It was built as part of the government policy of the time, designed to centralize the Muslim population of pilgrims near the beach, with the purpose of overseeing holy gravesites, in order to prevent the Crusader invasion.
To get here: located at the northern part of the Bar Kokhba Promenade, south of Harlington hotel.
An Unexpected Mosaic Floor
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Tomb of Sheikh Awad, next to a hill of golden sand, a beautiful Byzantine mosaic floor is hidden. The floor is adorned with Greek inscriptions, grapevines and other decorations. The floor is made in a geometric pattern surrounded by a decorated frame. To get here: Zvi Segal St., near the corner of Abba Ahimeir St.
The Sarcophagi Yard, Afridar Center
This unique site incorporates an impressive collection of archaeological findings, the highlight of which are two sarcophagi (coffins), the most exquisite and magnificent that have been found in Israel. These sarcophagi which were brought to the city from Greece or from Asia Minor are among the most important findings from the Roman period. The sarcophagi are made from Greek marble and decorated with reliefs that describe mythological scenes, including figures of different animals and plants. When visiting don’t miss out on the nearby collection of sundials.
To get here: Beit Ha’Am, Hagefen St. Open Sunday - Thursday between 8:00 - 16:00, Friday 8:00 - 12:00 (closed on Saturday). Telephone 08-6734019. Entrance is free.
The Khan Museum, HaAtzma’ut Square
HaAtzma’ut Square, the place where the largest mosque in the town stood, operates today as a museum that recounts the history of the city. The museum displays artifacts and historical exhibits from different periods, historical photographs, as well as changing art exhibitions by local artists. Occasionally workshops and other cultural activities are held in the Khan’s courtyard.
*Before arriving in Ashkelon, we recommend finding out about the current exhibitions at the Khan.
Location: Atzma’ut Place, Migdal. Telephone: 08-6727002.
The Byzantine Church
In Zvi Segal Street lie the remnants of a Byzantine church, built in the fourth century, with the remains of an apse, columns, square rooms, and more. To the south lie the remains of a prayer room and a baptism room.
To get here: Zvi Segal St., opposite house no. 59.
* There are blue signs placed alongside the dozens of historical sites and buildings throughout the city, that tell the stories of these sites.