Despite its small size, Israel boasts many vibrant cities and towns. The large number of urban communities reflects both the strong national desire to settle the entire Land of Israel, and the need to house the high number of Jewish immigrants who have arrived here over the last 100 years.
This reality is, as with most everything in Israel, rooted in biblical prophecy. The Lord promised to bring His people Israel back to their land, and to plant them in their former cities again.
And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)
Nor is this the end of the story. God also promised that He would spread prosperity throughout their cities, which He calls His, and to again choose Jerusalem, His holy city and the eternal capital of Israel.
Again proclaim, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem.'” (Zechariah 1:17)
The cities and towns of Israel are rich and diverse in culture and atmosphere, often combining an old world atmosphere with a very modern way of life to produce a living experience like no other. The nation’s millenia of history and heritage can still be clearly felt despite the modern accommodations.
Israel is also a meeting place between East and West, with a blend of both cultures as immigrants from all nations of the West lived side by side with inhabitants from the East. All of this makes for the rather unique cultural atmosphere that prevails in most of Israel’s rural and suburban settings.
Please browse through our list of Israel’s cities and towns to get a better feel for their background and situation in the land. More urban centers will be brought into this list so do check back.
|Sh’fila (Judean Foothills)
Founded: Approval – November 1973; construction began 1974; 1977 first family moves to Qatzrin.
Location: Central Golan Heights.
Interesting fact: Qatzrin is the capital of the Golan Heights region. The Old City of Qatzrin dates back at least 500 years and contains one of the oldest discovered synagogues in Israel.
Founded: ca. 1650
Location: Lower slopes of Mt. Hermon in the northern Golan Heights. 230 km / 142 miles from Jerusalem; 212 km / 131 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Majdal Shams is the largest town on the Golan Heights, and has an entirely Druze population. The name Majdal Shams means “Tower of the Sun”.
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Location: Central Galilee region, midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean coast.
Interesting fact: A planned modern city, Karmi’el is situated at the crossroads of the Upper and Lower Galilee, and is home of the ORT International Technological College.
Location: Northern Hula Valley, just west of the Golan Heights. 208 km / 130 miles from Jerusalem; 188 km / 117 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Built on the site of the abandoned Arab village of Helsa, Kiryat Shemonah was originally called Kiryat Yosef but changed to Kiryat Shemona in memory of Joseph Trumpeldor and his seven comrades who fell defending nearby Tel Hai in 1920 (shemonah means “eight” in Hebrew).
Location: The Israel-Lebanon border. 216 km / 135 miles from Jerusalem; 198 km / 123 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Metula was founded under the patronage of the Baron de Rothschild as a farming community and a front line against Arab raids from the north.
Location: Just north of the Sea of Galilee on the slopes of Mt. Canaan overlooking the Golan Heights, Hula Valley and northern part of the Sea of Galilee. 184 km / 115 miles from Jerusalem; 166 km / 100 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: – The first new Jewish village of the Galilee region, the site was first settled in 1878 by settlers from Tsefat and named Gai Oni. The original settlers were forced to leave three years later by hunger and drought. In 1882 the site was settled anew by immigrants from Romania and named Rosh Pina (taken from Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” – Rosh pina means “head of the corner” in Hebrew) in memory of the trials faced by the original settlers of the site.
Founded: 19 AD
Location: Western shores of the Sea of Galilee. 152 km / 95 miles from Jerusalem; 134 km / 83 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Named in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, 14-37 AD, the city was built by Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod. In its early years Tiberias was a popular Roman resort town with hot springs and bath houses.
Tiberias is said to have been built on the site of the ancient Naphtali town of Rakkath (Joshua 19:35) though it is also thought to have been built over an ancient graveyard thus making it unclean for Jews to enter.
Although the Jews would not enter the ancient Roman town, after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 135, Tiberias ironically became the center of rabbinic learning. Tiberias became the seat of the Sanhedrin, Jewish religious council, during the 2nd and 3rd centuries and here the Mishnah was completed in about AD 200 and the Jerusalem (or Palestinian) Talmud was finished about AD 400. Tiberias subsequently became one of the four cities holy to Judaism.
Founded: 70 AD
Location: Northwest of the Sea of Galilee in the hills overlooking the lake. 188 km / 117 miles from Jerusalem; 167 km / 104 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: One of the four holy cities of Judaism (the others being Jerusalem, Tiberias and Hebron), Tsefat has a rich history of scholarship and spirituality. Tsefat is the center of Jewish mysticism, the home of Kabala.
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Founded: ca. 1500 BC
Location: Israel’s northern Mediterranean coast. 173 km / 108 miles from Jerusalem; 117 km / 73 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Akko is one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world, dating back at least 3,500 years. The ancient city of Akko was part of the territory given to the Tribe of Asher during the Israelite conquest of the Land. Ancient Egyptian documents from that time period mention the city.
Founded: ca. 200 AD
Location: Israel’s northern Mediterranean coast. 151 km / 94 miles from Jerusalem; 95 km / 59 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Modern Haifa is Israel’s third largest city and it’s primary port. Haifa has a mixed Arab-Jewish population that has co-existed in relative peace and harmony for much of the past century. Modern Haifa is also the home of the Bahai religion.
Ancient Haifa is first mentioned in writings during the 3rd century AD. However, a number of settlements existed at the site of the modern city for many centuries prior to that. It is believed that a number of these smaller towns and settlements, including the town of Haifa, eventually grew into each other, forming the larger city of Haifa.
Location: Israel’s northern Mediterranean coast. 183 km / 112 miles from Jerusalem; 127 km / 77 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Nahariya was founded by German immigrants who fled Germany following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. Contrary to most other settlements in the Galilee region, Nahariya was founded without the assistance of one of the major Jewish agencies and purely on the initiative of the immigrants. The founding of Nahariya sparked off a much larger movement to settle the Western Galilee.
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Location: Center of the Jezreel Valley. 120 km / 73 miles from Jerusalem; 91 km / 56 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Situated in the heart of the Jezreel Valley, Afula is the capital of this populace region of Israel.
Founded: ca. 1500 BC
Location: The crossroads of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys. 115 km / 71 miles from Jerusalem; 117 km / 73 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Bet She’an was an ancient Philistine city that Joshua failed to conquer and from the walls of which King Saul’s body was hung following Israel’s defeat at the hands of the Philistines (I Samuel 31:1-10). Following his ascension as King of Israel, David took Bet She’an during his wars against the Philistines and the city remained under Israelite rule for another 300 years. Following the Assyrian conquest of Israel, the city changed hands numerous times, becoming one of the largest and wealthiest cities in all of the Land of Israel during the Greek and Roman periods of domination. At the outbreak of the War of Independence, Bet She’an was an Arab town from which all the inhabitants fled. The city was repopulated with Jewish immigrants from North Africa.
Location: Foot hills on the northern side of the Jezreel Valley. 135 km / 84 miles from Jerusalem; 105 km / 65 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Migdal Ha’Emek was built following the War of Independence as a development town with the intent of drawing some of the Jewish population away from the heavily populated coastal plain to the predominantly Arab Galilee region.
Founded: ca. 1500 BC
Location: The hills just north of the Jezreel Valley. 131 km / 81 miles from Jerusalem; 102 km / 63 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Nazareth is the largest Arab town in Israel with a mixed Muslim-Christian population that co-exists in relative harmony. Nazareth is the hometown of Yeshua and numerous churches commemorating that fact dominate Nazareth’s skyline. Nazareth has grown from an insignificant backwater during the time of Yeshua to one of northern Israel’s largest cities.
Location: Adjacent to the city of Nazareth. 131 km / 81 miles from Jerusalem; 102 km / 63 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: In 1956 the first pioneers arrived forming the settlement of Kiryat Nazareth. Nazareth Illit has a mixed population of Arab Christians and Muslims with a majority of Jewish residents. The city boasts one of the highest education standards in the nation, and is recognized as the capital of the Galilee region.
Umm el Fahm
Founded: ca. 1265
Location: The edge of the Jezreel Valley, just on the Israeli side of the “Green Line” separating Samaria from the rest of Israel.
Interesting fact: In 1948 Umm el Fahm was under Iraqi military control. During the War of Independence the town came under Jordanian rule, but as a part of the Israel-Jordan armistice agreement following the war Umm el Fahm was handed over to Israel.
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Location: Israel’s southern Mediterranean coast. 66 km / 41 miles from Jerusalem; 37 km / 23 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Ashdod was, in Biblical times, one of the Philistine cities in constant rivalry with Israel. Ashdod today, after being reborn in 1956, is a bustling city full of Jewish immigrants and boasts the nation’s second largest sea port.
Location: Israel’s southern Mediterranean coast. 71 km / 44 miles from Jerusalem; 54 km / 33 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Ashkelon is first seen in ancient Egyptian documents dating back to the 20th century BC. Ashkelon is most famous in antiquity, along with Ashdod, as one of the 5 chief Philistine cities. As such, Ashkelon was involved in almost constant warfare with Israel until its subjugation by King David. Ashkelon played a pivotal role in the War of Independence as what proved to be an impenetrable barrier between the Egyptian Army and Tel Aviv.
Location: Just off the Mediterranean coast midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. 101 km / 63 miles from Jerusalem; 48 km / 30 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Hadera comes from the Arabic word for “green” as the city is located in what is recognized to be the greenest and most lush area of the Coastal Plain region.
Location: Minutes north of Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast. 66 km / 41 miles from Jerusalem; 10 km / 6 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Hertzliya is named after the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Hertzl. Now a northern suburb of Tel Aviv, Hertzliya is number one on the upper class list of neighborhoods in the Gush Dan region.
Founded: ca. 1500 BC
Location: Eastern edge of the Coastal Plain. 43 km / 26 miles from Jerusalem; 15 km / 9 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Originally a Canaanite city, Lod was occupied by Egyptian forces in the 15th century BC from whom we get our earliest references to town. Lod also plays a role in the travels of Peter in the New Testament. Today Lod is a successful industrial town and location of the Ben Gurion Airport, often erroneously referred to as Tel Aviv Airport.
Location: Just north of the Gush Dan region on the Mediterranean coast. 85 km / 53 miles from Jerusalem; 29 km / 18 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Named after the American Zionist leader Nathan Straus, Netanya is a favorite settling place for many new immigrants to Israel as well as a popular resort spot for summer vacationers from Europe and the United States.
Tel Aviv – Yafo
Founded: Tel Aviv – 1909; Yafo – ca. 2000 BC
Location: Mediterranean coast, northwest of Jerusalem. 58 km / 36 miles from Jerusalem.
Interesting fact: The city of Yafo is approximately 4,000 years old, though the exact year of its founding is unknown. The oldest known inhabitants of the city were the Egyptians in ca. 2000 BC. The name Yafo comes from the name of Noah’s son Japheth, or Yafet.
Tel Aviv was born when the Jewish residents of Yafo finally decided that they had no other choice but to leave their poverty infested, squalor stricken neighborhoods in the town. They chose an area of land just north of Yafo and, in 1906, cast lots in order to allocate the plots of land. Three years later, in 1909, the city of Tel Aviv was founded. The name Tel Aviv is a play on words with tel being the Hebrew for a “mound of ancient ruins” and aviv meaning “spring”. Thus the name Tel Aviv is a balance of the “old” and the “new”, the “ancient” and the “reborn”. Tel Aviv later surpassed Yafo in size becoming the dominant of the two and is today Israel’s financial and business capital.
Location: Carmel Mountain range south of the Haifa area. 118 km / 73 miles from Jerusalem; 64 km / 40 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Zichron Ya’akov was originally founded, and named, by the Baron de Rothschild as an agricultural settlement focusing on the production of wines.
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Location: Central Samaria, northwest of Jerusalem.
Interesting fact: Ariel lies in central Samaria, the Biblical heartland of Israel, and is recognized as the Jewish capital of the region. The town boasts a highly successful economy as well as a local university.
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Sh’fila (Judean Foothills)
Location: The meeting point of the Sh’fila and the Coastal Plain. Kiryat Gat is almost precisely located in the center of Israel. 70 km / 43 miles from Jerusalem; 63 km / 39 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Kiryat Gat is named after the nearby ruins of the ancient Philistine city of Gat.
Location: Foothills of the Judean Hills midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Modi’in is the ancient hometown of the Hasmoneans, or Maccabeans, that ousted the Syrian-Greek overlords from the Land of Israel in the 2nd century BCE. The revolt began under the military leadership of Judah Maccabee and is the basis for the holiday of Hanukah. The modern city of Modi’in is a well thought out and precisely planned city that is increasingly becoming the home of more and more high-tech firms.
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Founded: ca. 2000 BC
Location: Jerusalem is located southeast of Tel Aviv in the Judean hills on the edge of the Judean Wilderness. 58 km / 36 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Jerusalem is first mentioned in the Bible as the city of Shalem, the city of Melchitzedek, friend of Abraham. Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom of Israel under David in ca. 1000 BC and remained the nation’s capital until its destruction in 586 BC by the Babylonian armies. Jerusalem was rebuilt and served as Israel’s capital off and on under various foreign rulers until 70 AD, when Roman legions burned the city and expelled its Jewish inhabitants. In 1967 Jerusalem was reunited following the Six Day War and the entire city once again became the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of Israel. Today Jerusalem is a large and bustling city offering a breathtaking mixture of old world atmosphere and modern living.
Location: Northeastern outskirts of Hebron.
Interesting fact: Kiryat Arba is named after the ancient, Biblical town of the same name, conquered in ca. 1400 BC by Caleb. Kiryat Arba today is a small Jewish town on the outskirts of the ancient city of Hebron, burial place of the patriarchs and David’s first capital city.
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Location: Border of the Negev and the Judean Wilderness, just west of the Dead Sea. 100 km / 62 miles from Jerusalem; 150 km / 93 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Arad is an ancient desert city dating back at least 5,000 years, with a Jewish presence dating back about 3,000 years. Arad is first mentioned in the book of Numbers as the Children of Israel began their journey into the southern region of the Land of Israel. Renewed settlement in 1962 has led to the modernization of Arad which is now a small but important town in the Negev / Dead Sea region.
Founded: ca. 2000 BC
Location: Northern Negev desert region. 81 km / 50 miles from Jerusalem; 105 km / 65 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: The first reference to Beersheva is found in the book of Genesis as a place where Abraham dwelt for a time. Beersheva remained a small town through the centuries until 1900 when renewed Jewish immigration began to bolster her numbers. Today, Beersheva is the capital of the Negev region combining an old world Bedouin feel with an industrialized and modern city. Beersheva is also home to the Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
Founded: 1949 (declared a city in 1959)
Location: Extreme southern tip of Israel. 309 km / 193 miles from Jerusalem; 346 km / 120 miles from Tel Aviv.
Interesting fact: Eilat is an ancient port and outpost on the Red Sea, utilized by King Solomon in his trade endeavors with the Far East and as a base for his Red Sea fleet. Following Israel’s independence in 1948 the city’s numbers were bolstered by increased Jewish immigration. Today Eilat is Israel’s premier resort town and a favorite destination for thousands of European and American vacationers each year.