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Horvat Minya – Horvat Minnim*

Horvat Minya – Horvat Minnim in the Umayyad Period

Horvat Minya – Horvat Minnim is the only Umayyad Arabic archaeological site in Israel with remains above the ground. Horvat Minya – Horvat Minnim also features one of the earliest mosques in Israel.  In Arabic it is called Khirbat al-Minya (or Ayn Minyat Hisham). In Hebrew name is Horvat Minya (or Horvat Minnim). Horvat Minnim is an Umayyad-built palace, likely built during the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I (705-715 CE) or al Walid II. An inscription on a stone found at the site mentions his name.  Horvat Minnim is in the eastern Galilee, south of Tabgha and just north of Kibbutz Genosar, located about 200 meters (660 ft) west of the northern end of Lake Tiberias.

Attention was attracted to Horvat Minnim in the second half of the 19th century. Then scholars and pilgrims began to cross the Holy Land in search of identifiable biblical sites. Originally, scholars identified Minnim as Capernaum until the discovery of Capernaum farther north and the excavation of the main part of the site of Minnim.

Horvat Minnim is an almost square building with round corner towers and a semicircular tower in the middle of each wall, except for the eastern wall where there was a monumental domed gateway.

Minya – this name may have originated from the Greek word “moni” – a dwelling, however it is more likely to come from the Arabic word for a port.

What to see at Horvat Minya – Horvat Minnim

Horvat Minnim was erected as a qasr complex (castle -from Latin castrum, via Arabic) built by a single patron and includes: –

  • palace
  • mosque – plainly decorated
  • Byzantine bath, 400 meters north of the site
  • elegant mosaics
  • intricate carvings

A strong earthquake hit the region, probably in 749 CE. This damaged the building, causing a rift to run through the eastern wing, going straight through the mosque’s mihrab. It fell into disuse after another major earthquake in 1068.

Mamluk Period

The palace was resettled again during the late Mamluk period (14th-15th centuries) and was used as a khan in this period. A new Khan al-Minya was constructed 300 m due north of the palace, closer to Tel Kinneret, by Saif al-Din Tankiz (reigned 1312-1340).

Crusaders established a sugarcane factory on the site. Parts of the ruins were used as a water reservoir (likely for a mill). Later a large brick oven was built in the south wing and was used to process sugar cane from nearby plantations. The factory’s furnace, beautifully preserved when it was unearthed by a German expedition in 1937, is now in a worrying state.

Now a National Park

The site has been declared a national park however it still needs to be made more accessible to visitors. The ruins are completely open to the public. Unfortunately visitors unwittingly damage the rare mosaics. There is a need to start preserving Khirbat al-Minya before any further damage is inflicted.

The entrance to Karei Deshe youth hostel from Route 90 gives you to the entrance of Khurvat Minya.

There is no entrance fee and the site is not accessible for visitors with special needs. No tourist facilities are available on the site.

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