Lod Tourist Attractions
Situation and characteristicsLod (Lydda), 22km/14mi southeast of Tel Aviv and 3km/2mi northeast of Ramla, is now known mainly for its international airport, but it reaches far back into the past in history and myth.
HistoryThe town was founded by the tribe of Benjamin after the Israelite occupation of the Promised Land (1 Chronicles 8,12). It was destroyed by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C., rebuilt in the fifth century and occupied from the fourth century onwards by Greeks, who named it Lydda. The Hasmoneans captured the town in 143 B.C. (1 Maccabees 11,34). There was a Christian community here at a very early stage. Paul visited Lydda and healed a man who had been bedridden for eight years (Acts 9,32-34) before going on to Joppa (Jaffa) and Caesarea. The Romans took the town during their advance on Jerusalem (A.D. 67) and renamed it Diospolis (City of Zeus). It still bears that name in the sixth century Madaba map.After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 there were still a few Jewish schools in the town, but in the second century the rabbis left it because of its pagan character. In the time of Constantine (fourth century) it was predominantly Christian. It acquired special importance from its association with St George, who according to tradition was born in Lydda, served as a tribune in the Roman army and was martyred in 303, in the reign of Diocletian. His remains were brought back to Lydda, where from the fifth century onwards pilgrims were shown his tomb. The portrayal of the saint as a dragon-slayer seems, according to T. F. Meysels, to go back to the older myth of the dragon slain by Perseus when he freed Andromeda at Jaffa, farther up the coast; and it would appear that behind the dragon of the Perseus myth lurks the Philistine god Dagon.St George, a megalomartyr of the Eastern church, also became a holy man revered by the Muslims - the bright spirit El-Chodr, who on the day of judgment will vanquish the demon Dajal outside the gates of Lod.In Byzantine times a basilica dedicated to this warrior saint was built in Lod, but this was lost when the Omayyad Caliph Abd el-Malik destroyed Lod. The church was rebuilt by the Crusaders in the reign of Richard Coeur de Lion, and St George became the patron saint of England.In the 13th century the Mamelukes used the church as a quarry of building stone for the El-Chodr Mosque, dedicated to the same St George as an Islamic holy man. Later the town sank into insignificance. In 1870 the Greek Orthodox community acquired the remains of the church and built a modern church on the site. Most of the Arab inhabitants of the town left it in 1948 and were replaced by new Jewish immigrants. Lod now has a population of 4,000 Arabs and 34,000 Jews. During the British Mandate an airfield was constructed a few kilometers north of Lod, and soon after the foundation of the new Jewish state, in November 1948, this began to be used for civil aviation. In the following year the Israeli national airline, El Al, was established, and Lod became an international airport, which from 1975 bore the name of Israel's first prime minister, Ben-Gurion.
The southern part of the El-Chodr Mosque Complex in Lod is occupied by the El-Chodr Mosque. In the forecourt, to the left, is an ablutions fountain. At the north end of the prayer hall is an apse from the Byzantine church, and near the east side is a column, also from the church, with a Greek inscription.
El-Chodr Mosque Complex
When the minaret of the El-Chodr Mosque collapsed in 1927 it was replaced by the present white minaret, a prominent landmark drawing attention to this double shrine of the Christian saint and the Islamic holy man. The complex occupies the site of the sixth century Byzantine basilica and the Crusader church which replaced it in the 12th century. Columns and other elements from these earlier buildings have been preserved in the present structure. The entrance to both the church and the mosque are at the west end of the complex. Between them are a number of shops.
St George's Church
To the left of the shops at the El-Chodr Mosque Complex in Lod is the entrance to the Greek Orthodox church of St George, rebuilt in 1870. Over the doorway is a relief of St George and the dragon. The church occupies the north end of the nave and left-hand aisle of the Crusader church, from which there survive two apses - which, contrary to the normal rule, face north rather than east - and two columns. The painting of the interior rather spoils the imposing spatial effect. Between the two columns, in front of the iconostasis, are two flights of steps leading down to the crypt. This contains the sarcophagus of St George, on the lid of which (restored, as an inscription records, in 1871, in the time of Patriarch Cyril) is a likeness of the saint.
Situation and characteristicsModi'im, home of the Maccabees, lies 12km/7.5mi east of Lod, southwest of the Arab village of Midya, in an area near the Herzl Forest accessible only on very minor roads.HistoryIn 167 B.C. envoys from the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, then pursuing a policy of Hellenisation, came to Modi'im and called on the people to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Mattathias, a priest, refused, and when another Jew showed himself ready to offer sacrifice Mattathias and his five sons killed the man and the king's envoys and fled into the hills. This was the beginning of the Maccabee rebellion which, under the leadership of Mattathias's sons, particularly Judas Maccabeus, led to the establishment of the Maccabean or Hasmonean state, which survived until Herod I put an end to it in 37 B.C. (1 Maccabees 2,15-30).The lofty monument which the high priest Simeon, the last of the five brothers, erected over the tombs of his father and brothers (1 Maccabees 13,27) no longer exists, but the rock-cut tombs themselves, with their large grave slabs, can still be seen. Every year on the first night of the Hanukkah festival a torch is lit here and carried to Jerusalem, where the President of Israel kindles the Hanukkah lights with it. Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Assyrians who killed the Jews and prevented them practicing their religion.
On the road running north from Lod is a stone bridge with pointed arches. Between two lions similar to those on the Lion Gate (St Stephen's Gate) in Jerusalem is an Arabic inscription recording the construction of the bridge by the Mameluke Sultan Baibars in 1273.
Tomb of Mazor
On the road north from Lod past the airport, we come (9km/6mi from Lod) to a side road on the right. Turning into this road and in 5km/3mi taking a road on the left signposted to Rosh Ha'Ayin, we come in another 4km/2.5mi to the Tomb of Hazor, a few kilometers west of the village of Hazor. This Roman (or Nabataean) temple-tomb of the second or third century, built of dressed stone, stands in the middle of an earlier necropolis. On the facade, between massive buttresses, are two Corinthian columns supporting the entablature.A staircase leads up on to the roof.
More on PlanetWare