Ashkelon is the southernmost city on the Mediterranean shoreline. In recent years, its 12 kilometers of beautiful beaches have attracted both Israelis and foreign tourists. Ashkelon was named after an ancient city whose remains can be found on Tel Ashkelon in the Ashkelon National Park. The city is mentioned in the Bible several times. But the main stories connected to it are about Samson and the fact that Goliath the Philistine was “a man of Ashkelon”… The city has been inhabited throughout the ages, but has had its ups and downs. It has been settled and abandoned, bloomed, prospered and then fallen. Its location on the coast has often made it an important port city.
Ashkelon has become a tourist center, and offers new attractions alongside interesting archaeological sites. The city’s major attraction is the National Park south-west of the city, which includes the ancient Tel Ashkelon. The Tel (the Hebrew name for abandoned ruins that often appear as hillocks in the countryside) contains ancient remains, starting with the impressive city gate from the Canaanite Period (about 4,000 years ago), a public building and many sculptures from the Roman Era (about 2,000 years ago), and up to the ruins of fortifications from the Crusader Period (about 1,000 years ago). The National Park extends about the Tel, and has spacious lawns and a public beach.
The city’s remaining public beaches stretch out to the north of the National Park, with an abundance of holiday facilities and hotels. The seashore also has a Marina. Nearby there is a beautiful promenade, and the Ashkelona Water Park, offering families an attractive water experience.
Ancient sites are dispersed throughout the city, including an Archaeological Park with two magnificent coffins from the Roman Period (on Ha-Gefen Street in the Afridar neighborhood), the remains of two Byzantine churches (on Tsvi Segel Street in the Barne’a neighborhood), two splendid Roman graves and a Sheik’s grave from the Mamluk Period (next to the Marina).
Buildings from the Arab city of Majdal have been preserved in the Migdal neighborhood, including the city’s big mosque and the Khan. Today, the Ashkelon Museum is located in the mosque, which houses an exhibition of the history of modern Ashkelon alongside archaeological findings, while the Khan houses artists’ studios.