The town of Katzrin in the Golan is famed as the site of a reconstructed Jewish Talmudic-era village created out of excavated remains. The highlight of this incredible site is the Katzrin Synagogue. Originally a small synagogue was built on this site in the 4th century. Then in the 6th century a larger structure took its place and remained in use until its destruction by an earthquake in 749 AD.
The 6th century synagogue was built facing towards Jerusalem and there were two main entrances, one on the north and the other on the western wall. The synagogue was constructed using large blocks of stone but no mortar was used. Originally it stood two stories high with windows on the upper level. The upper story has not survived but we can still see the two rows of four columns which would have supported the second level. The roof would have been made of wooden beams and covered with ceramic tiles. The walls would have been whitewashed and decorated with red geometric patterns. The synagogue floor was once covered with beautiful mosaics and it is still possible to see sections of the mosaics. Along the walls of the synagogue interior there are two stone step benches where worshipers would sit as they prayed.
The main entrance to the synagogue is topped by a lintel featuring decorative carvings. Several features distinguish this as a Jewish place of worship – the engraved motif of a Jewish menorah inducing the raised stone platform against the southern wall where the Torah Ark would have stood. Today it is possible to hold weddings, bar mitzvah ceremonies and special events in the ancient synagogue of Katzrin.