The Tiberias Hot Springs National Park, aka Hamat Tiberias National Park, displays one of the most spectacular mosaics of ancient synagogues in Israel. On the site, where the Hot Springs of Tiberias flow, there is also a beautifully preserved 18th century structure of a Turkish Hamam.
The Hot Springs – within the national park, 17 thermo-mineral springs flow at a temperature of about 600C, with a saline concentration of 36.5 gr. per liter, the majority in the form of chlorides of sodium and calcium and some potassium, bromide and sulfate. The water flows in a system of underground channels to the Tiberias Hot Baths. The channels are built with chimneys to release steam pressure and visitors to the park can see the steam pouring out of them. Surplus water that does not flow into the Tiberias hot baths are collected in a pool located on-site.
The surplus water, and the water returning from the baths after use, is collected in a Mekorot facility located within the site, and is conveyed to the National Saline Water Carrier. The Severus’ Synagogue is located within the precincts of the ancient town of Hammat Tverya, close to the southern wall and the gate of the city. This synagogue underwent three stages.
The first synagogue was built about 230 CE, on the remains of an earlier public building. From this synagogue, which was apparently destroyed in the 3rd century, only a small piece of mosaic remains that is displayed at the southern edge of the central mosaic, on a slightly lower level.
The second synagogue existed in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, and left behind a glorious mosaic floor, one of the earliest discovered in synagogues in Israel. The mosaic is divided into three panels. The northern section shows two lions, flanking nine inscriptions in Greek memorializing donors; in the middle – a spectacular Zodiac surrounding an image of Helios, the sun god; and in the southern section – the Ark of the Torah with Jewish symbols such as two seven-branched candelabras, a shofar and a lulav.
The synagogue underwent preservation, restoration and reconstruction, and it is surrounded by glass walls enabling eye contact with the scenery, remains of ancient residential buildings and the later synagogue.