The Jezreel Valley (also known as Emek Yisrael and the Plain of Megiddo) is a beautiful area of the Galilee in Northen Israel, a strikingly flat landscape with immense natural beauty and historic importance. The Jezreel Valley is a haven for adventure and outdoor enthusiasts, as well as drawing those interested in its religious importance. It is named for an ancient city which stood here and means “God sows” perhaps alluding to the fertile land in the valley.
The Jezreel Valley is located at the southern end of the Lower Galilee bordered to the south by the Samarian Highlands, the south east by Mount Gilboa, the west by Mount Carmel, and the country of Jordan to the east. The valley’s strategic location meant that throughout history, armies and travelers going from Istanbul or Babylon towards Egypt or the Arabian Peninsula along the Via Maris would pass through meaning that the valley is rich in archaeological finds.
History of the Jezreel Valley
The Jezreel Valley was inhabited as far back as 4500BC and the valley city of Ophrah is even mentioned in the Bible as the home of Gideon. The Bible also recounts several battles that took place here, the most well known being the Battle of Meggido. The Bible names the valley as the location where the “final battle” or Armageddon will take place. At Tel Jezreel, an excavated archaeological site, you can learn more of the history of this area.
Today as you drive through the Jezreel Valley you’ll see thriving farmlands and fields growing cotton, sunflowers and corn. The valley is known for its country style hospitality and rural restaurants which serve home-made cheese, wine and breads.
Visiting the Jezreel Valley
The ancient fortress city of Megiddo saw more battles than any other location on Earth and archaeologists have uncovered many layers of ruins from different civilizations. The Megiddo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The main attraction here is the stunning archaeological park with very well preserved structures from the Roman and Byzantine era. Here you can also see a sound and light show. There are several natural springs in the area where you can swim. Read more about Beit Shean.
This mount is one of the possible sites of the Miracle of the Transfiguration when Jesus began to radiate light as he conversed with Moses and Elijah. The mount is also mentioned in the Old Testament as the camp site of Deborah and Barak before going into battle. From the mountain top where a monastery stands you can get a breathtaking view across the valley. The mountain offers wonderful hiking paths and is a popular place for hand-gliding. Read more about Mount Tabor.
There are two national parks on the slopes of the Mount Gilboa which are known for the brilliant show of purple irises which bloom in the Spring. Ein Harod, a natural spring runs at the foot of the mount. Read more about Mount Gilboa.
The natural springs at Gan Hashlosha are indescribably beautiful – thought by some to be the real location of the Garden of Eden. Read more about Gan Hashlosha.