When the Israelites entered the land, after the exodus from Egypt, Joshua led them here for the ceremony of the blessing and the curse (Deuteronomy 11:29). Mount Gerizim was the mountain of the blessing; from the site, you can see Mount Ebal, the mountain of the curse, on the other side of the city of Shechem (Nablus).
After the Assyrian conquest of the Israelite nation, we begin to hear of the Samaritan people who lived in the land. The Samaritans claim to be descendants of the Israelite tribes, Menasseh and Efraim, as well as from the Levites. The Jews believe them to be people who were brought to the country by the Assyrians after the wealthy Jews were exiled; these people eventually mixed with the remaining Jews and took on themselves the laws of the Jews.
The Samaritans, who lived in the Samaria region, built a temple to worship God at their holy site of Mount Gerizim in the 5th century BCE. This temple was similar to that in Jerusalem where the Jews of the Judean kingdom worshipped. Despite the similarities between the two religions, much friction and warfare existed between the two populations; eventually in 111 BCE the Hasmonean king John Hyrcanus conquered Samaria and destroyed the Samaritan temple.
During Byzantine rule, an octagonal church, dedicated to Mary, was built on the site of the Samaritan temple. A monastery was also built there.
Tip: the park is open 8:00-16:00 in the winter, 8:00-17:00 in the summer. The park closes earlier on Fridays and before holidays.
Tip: there is an entrance fee of 22 NIS per adult, 10 NIS per child