Ayalon Canada Park is named after the Ayalon Valley that lies at its feet, and in recognition of the contribution for its development from friends of JNF Canada. A national park stretching over 7,000 dunams, mostly in the West Bank, with a portion in the region that was a no man’s land before 1967 and incorporated into Israel in 1967. Canada Park was established on the lands of two of the Arab villages depopulated at this time: Imwas and Yalo.
The park is rich in natural woodland scenery, planted forests and especially fruit trees, which can be seen throughout the area. There are fascinating historical sites in the park and around it, such as an aqueduct, burial caves, secret tunnels, a crusader castle and church ruins. In the Maayanot Valley and at the Date Palm Spring, large recreation areas have been developed for leisure activities in natural surroundings, including a beautiful manmade lake. It covers an area of seven thousand dunams north of the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv highway, between Shaar Hagai and the Latrun Interchange.
There are also recreation areas near the Ayub Well and in the vicinity of the Ayalon Springs. The natural topography of the Ayalon Valley has made it a very desirable location since ancient times. This is because the fertile soil, which benefited from the water that flowed into the valley, was cultivated since the dawn of history, and also because there is a strategic crossroads in the valley, which dominate the roads from the lowland and the coastal plain to Jerusalem and Beit Horon.
Many battles were fought for control of the valley. One of the most famous was the war between Joshua and the Canaanite kings, which ended with the famous cry, “Sun, stand still in Givon, and the moon in the Ayalon Valley” (Joshua 10:12). There were also fierce battles in the Ayalon Valley between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids in the 2nd century BCE, including an observation point with a view of Ma’ale Beit Horon and the Emmaus area. This is where the first battles of the Hasmoneans took place from 167 to 165 BCE.
In the first stage of the Arab occupation of the land of Israel in the 7th century CE, this valley served as a center for their forces. The crusaders also considered the Ayalon Valley a strategic asset and built an important fortress in Latrun, Le Toron Des Chevaliers, the castle of the knights. Many fierce battles also took place here during the War of Independence, between the IDF and the Jordanian Legion.
The Ayalon Springs, is a very large area covered with groves turned into a hill agriculture reserve.
Emek Hamaayanot (Maayanot Valley, the Valley of the Springs)
Interesting remains from the water system of the city of Emmaus-Nicopolis. The aqueducts were built in the Late Roman period (3rd and 4th centuries CE). Two aqueducts, on two different levels, were built from stone links along which a channel was carved. The upper aqueduct starts at the Eked antiquities. The lower aqueduct starts at an underground spring.
Ayub Well and Ayalon Springs
The Ayub Well can be found among the ruins of the small Arab village Dir Ayub, which controlled the road ascending to Jerusalem. During the War of Independence, the village changed hands several times but ended up occupied by the Jordanian Legion. After the War of Independence, the village was abandoned and remained in no man’s land.
This is where the place called Ayalon was situated, a city in the domain of the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:42), which lent its name to the entire valley. Near the hill there are several springs called the Ayalon Springs. The large one is called Bir El-Jabar, which is inside an ancient stone structure south of the fortress. At Tel Ayalon you can see remains of the Castellum Arnoldi crusader fortress, which was built in the early 12th century as part of a defense system for the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and dominates the northern part of the Ayalon Valley.
Date Palm Spring
Also known as Ein Nini, is a spring that flows from an opening whose walls are tiled with stones. It flows all year. The opening is part of an ancient irrigation system, apparently from the Byzantine period.
Scenic Lookout Hill
Near it there are ancient winepresses carved in the rock.
These are ruins on the top of a steep hill, with remains of a fortress, apparently form the Hasmonean period, and a secret tunnel about 25 meters long that ends at a cistern.
Jordanian Burma Road
A roadway that was paved by the Jordanian Legion during the War of Independence, from Emmaus to the village of Yalo.
Hill 312 and Sheikh Ibn Jabal
The tomb of Sheikh Ibn Jabal commemorates the legendary character of the Muslim warrior Ibn Jabal, who perished, according to tradition, in an epidemic that plagued Muslim forces in Emmaus in 639 CE. An inscription found above the doorway to the tomb attests that the building was erected in 1288 CE by the Mamluk ruler of the Jerusalem stronghold.
Emmaus is outside the area of the park, but it is very close by and worth visiting. There are remnants from a large church from the Byzantine period (5th century CE). The church was built on top of the ruins of a Roman villa from the 2nd century CE, but most of the visible ruins were built much later by the crusaders in the 12th century.
Olive Tree Recreation Area and Emmaus Antiquities
Emmaus, the Greek name for the city of Hamat on the border of Judea. The name of the city is derived from a hot spring, which does not flow nowadays. Since the 3rd century, the city was called Nicopolis (the city of Nico, the goddess of victory).
The Roman Bathhouse
is next to the Emmaus Church, just a little outside the park borders, in the cemetery of the city of Emmaus. The Arabic name of the place is Sheikh Ubeid, who according to Arabic tradition was the main commander of the Muslim army that died in the 7th century in the Emmaus plague.
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