The ancient site of Sepphoris (Greek) or Zippori (Hebrew = bird) is located northwest to the old city of Nazareth. This major Roman and Byzantine city used to be the capital and the heart of the Galilee province. It was first mentioned in the writings of Josephus Flavius about the Hasmonean era.
Like all other residents of the Galilee, the Jewish inhabitants suffered greatly under the Roman rule. Several uprisings were targeted towards shaking off the tight fist of the Roman emperor, but to no avail. Sepphoris was destroyed in the Verus war and was later rebuilt and fortified by Herod’s son Antipas.
The city was a commercial center for the whole area, and although there is no evidence of Jesus having visited Sepphoris, it is highly likely due to its proximity to Nazareth. Some scholars believe he worked here as a carpenter for a while before beginning his journey towards the Sea of Galilee.
One of the famous inhabitants of the city was Rabbi Judah Hanasi who moved there from Beith Shean. He was accompanied by the Sanhedrin, an assembly of 71 ordained scholars, who served as legislature and supreme court. These scholars also contributed to the Jerusalem Talmud, which was completed in the 4th century AD.
Sepphoris was inhabited by Christian and Jews for many centuries. Later the crusaders took over and built a crusader church in the memory of St. Anne. They firmly believed that Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim, had resided at Sepphoris.
The National Park of Sepphoris sits on a large area which incorporates many impressive ruins. The rich mosaic floors indicate that the town was very wealthy. One can visit the street networks, the remains of residential houses, the crusader fortress, and old synagogue and a Roman theater with 4,500 seats, as well as the waterworks building. Filming at Sepphoris can easily be combined with filming at a biblical landscape such as old Nazareth Village to accomplish a great shooting day in the Galilee province.