Tourist Tip #319 Ashkelon National Park: Sun, Sea, and Ancient Ruins

This is the place to see the world's oldest arched city gate, then barbecue and swim.

Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

How old is the city of Ashkelon? That’s anybody’s guess but it definitely goes back more than 5,000 years, serving as a central Mediterranean seaport for the ancient Canaanites and Phoenicians, the Romans too – and let us not forget the Crusaders. All left behind relics and ruins, including purportedly the oldest arched city gate in the world, which was restored in 2008.

And it’s right there in the Ashkelon National Park, located in the heart of the Old City. It is a a gorgeous place not only to relax by the seaside or on the well-groomed lawns, but also to get a feeling for the millennia of yore.

The park is bordered by an ancient earthen dike more than two kilometers long that goes back more than 4,000 years, built by the Canaanites to ward off raiders. It was during digs of that dike that the giant double-story ancient arched gate believed to date from around 1,850 BCE was found.

Atop the dike are walls built by Fatimid Moslems in the 12th century to deter the Crusaders. Other ruins found in the area of the park include a Roman basilica and a city hall dating back to the time of Herod.

Now think that after walking along the dike and feeling that history with your hands, you can have a nice picnic and swim in the summer-warmed sea. There are even barbecue facilities available for your use, if you happen to show up with raw food, charcoal and matches.

The middle of the park sports remains from the Roman era, including a vast pillared edifice, next to which is a statuary featuring pieces found during excavations of the city. Picnic tables are located in this area, as is the 10,000-seat amphitheater.

During summer, until November, the park is open from 8 A.M. until 10 P.M., though visitors are not let in after 8 P.M.

Cost: NIS 29 per adult, NIS 15 per child. Parking is free. Telephone for information: 08-6736444.

The ancient gate, purported to be the oldest arched city gate in the world, at the Ashkelon National Park.Credit: Moshe Gilad
Some of the ruins at the Ashkelon National Park.Credit: Moshe Gilad
Entrance to the Ashkelon National Park. When you see this sign, you know you've arrived.Credit: Moshe Gilad

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel


Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism