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Hermon National Park (Banias)


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Hermon Stream Nature Reserve (Banias)

In 1867, Mark Twain visited Banias and wrote in Innocents Abroad: ” The whole place has a sleepy, stupid, rural look about  it  and one can hardly bring himself to believe that a busy, substantially built city once existed here, even two thousand years ago.” [I won’t quote the sentence before this out of consideration for my Arab friends.] Well, Mr. Samuel  Langhorne Clemens, too bad you cannot return to see the site now because you might want to edit  your remarks. Banias is a terrific place to visit!

The Banias is one of the rivers that forms the Jordan River, its spring is at the foot of Mount Hermon. Two outstanding attractions await you here. Both are recommended.
  • The Hermon Stream Nature Reserve (sometimes Hermon National Park) has a paths (short or long) along the river all the way up to the waterfall.
  • The Hermon Stream Nature Reserve  also is home for the archeological excavation of the Temple to Pan build by Herod the Great, the ancient city of Caesarea Philipi and on another trail where you can see Roman and Crusader sites. This park is a must see.


 

Hermon Stream Nature Reserve – שמורת טבע נחל חרמון – בניאס

The Hermon Stream Nature Reserve entrance contains a large parking lot, facilities and a place to buy ice cream during the summer, as well as snacks and hot Druze pitas. Beyond the ticket gate (note: one ticket gains entrance to both park entrances) a trail leads down to the river, a 45-minute walk round-trip, including the suspended trail hanging over the raging white water.

A very unique way to approach a waterfall, the suspended trail was built along the basalt and travertine stone walls of the gorge, the roaring river just several meters below.

The Banias Waterfalls are most impressive during the winter and spring when the water is most plentiful, on its way down to the Sea of Galilee. The waterfall is 10 meters (33 feet) high and during the winter and spring, the water crashes and mists down on those standing close on the observation deck.

Banias Springs Park

Hermon National Park (Banias) – The Banias Springs park entrance contains a smaller parking lot, facilities and a gift shop. The wide mouth of Pan’s Cave can be seen from the road, making it easily identifiable. Before the cave there is a calm series of stepped water, the Hermon stream, which can ever overflow onto the paved walkway. It is forbidden to enter the stream.

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This is a peaceful and gorgeous entrance to the cave area. The ruins around the cave have been charted out to show the various temples and courts that were built In Roman times and glorified by Agrippa II after the original site was founded by Herod’s son Philip who made the city Caesarea Philipi in the Banias. The Herodian Dynasty continued to build temples to Augustus and Greek and Roman gods:  Zeus, Nemesis, The Sacred Goats and The Dancing Goats.The cliff edge above the cave and ruins can be climbed, giving a birds-eye view of the park’s entrance and various trails and ruins.

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The ancient niches and inscriptions in those cliffs inspired archaeological excavations that revealed massive temples and walls. While touring the ruins, visitors learn how the ancient Greeks identified this site, with its shaded pools, cascades and rivulets, as the home of nature-loving Pan. They built a shrine to this mischievous demigod, naming it Paneas, which in the Arabic pronunciation became Banias.

Caesarea Philippi is name used in the New Testament name for Banias, where Jesus charged Peter with founding the Church (Matt. 16:13–20). High above the spring, the Druze faith maintains a holy place to Elijah the Prophet. In medieval times the Muslim city that stood here was also home to Jews and Karaites and was eventually fortified by the Crusaders.

Makam el Khader above Pan's Cave
Makam el Khader above Pan’s Cave
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Jewish or Karaite synagogue Holy Ark changed to a Muslim mekhrab

The Ancient Bridge

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Roman bridge over Nachal Govta

Beyond the modern bridge under the Banias-Kiryat Shemona road, you reach an ancient bridge which arches over the junction of Nahal Govta and Nahal Hermon. This bridge was built during the Roman period from large chiseled stones. The interior is covered with travertine, chalky spring water deposits. Exquisite small stalactites of travertine hang from the roof.

Matruf Mill

 

The only water-powered flour mill still-operative in Israel.
An aqueduct carries water from Nahal Hermon to the roof of the mill. From the edge of the aqueduct, the water drops down a stone “chimney” and, as it falls, it turns three driving wheels attached to millstones. Today, two of the wheels are still in use; the third, which was used to press olives, is no longer operational.
The residents of Massadeh and Ein Kinia, nearby villages, grind their grain at Matruf Mill. A bakery was built alongside the mill, and the mother of the family who runs the mill demonstrates how she bakes large pita bread.

Syrian Officers’ Pool (Ein Khilo)

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Ein Khilo’s water is warmer than the Banias, so the Syrian officers who served in the area and wanted to bathe there built a concrete pool to catch the warm spring water.
The bubbles rising from the pool floor indicate the origins of Ein Khilo.

Opening Hours:

Winter: Sun – Sat: 8am-4pm, Friday: 8am-3pm

Summer: Sun – Sat: 8am-5pm, Friday: 8am-4pm

Banias Ticket Prices:

Adult: NIS 27

Child: NIS 14

Combo ticket (Banias & Nimrod Fortress): Adult: NIS 38, Child: NIS 19

Contact:

Springs entrance: 04-690-2577

Falls entrance: 04-695-0272

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