September 3rd 2013
Mount Bental, which rises to nearly 4000 feet above sea level, offers extraordinary panoramic views of the northeastern Golan Heights and beyond. From the top of Mount Bental, participants in tours of northern Israel can see the entire Golan and also a significant distance into the neighboring country of Syria. Visitors can also catch a panoramic view towards Mount Hermon to the north.
Mount Bental was formed from a volcano that’s no longer active. During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israeli’s struggle to regain strategic control of the Golan took the form of one of the most grueling tanks battles in history. This famous battle was fought from Mount Bental. When Syria attacked Israel with 1,500 tanks, the Israeli forces eventually prevailed over the much larger Syrian forces, using just 160 tanks. At the end of the battle, having destroyed hundreds of Syrian vehicles, there were only seven Israeli tanks still in working order. Despite the miraculous victory, Israel lost many soldiers. Today, the valley below Mount Bental is known as the Valley of Tears, as a memorial to the devastating human loss suffered at this location.
At the top of Mount Bental, visitors are able to enter and explore an abandoned Israeli bunker. As you walk around the remaining army bunkers, you’ll see some old beds and gear. In one small room are signs and maps that help explain the logistics and geography of the battle. For a small fee, you can rent video binoculars with which you can gain a better view of the Israeli-Syrian border and the former battlefield which are now agricultural fields for cultivating grains and vegetables.
In order to improve the experience for tourists, the road leading to the top of Mount Bental was recently repaved, and the tourist facilities have been renovated. Be sure to stop at Café Anan (a Hebrew pun meaning Cloud Café) for a hot drink and some baked goods to go along with the view.
At the top of Mount Bental is the Golan Regional Council visitors’ center. Next to the center is a small steel sculpture garden, created by the Dutch artist Joop de Jong. There is no entrance fee, and Mount Bental is open every day.