Discover History and Nature in the Galilee Mountains

May 8th 2012

The gorgeous Galilee Mountains are home to natural wonders and historic sites. Lovers of the outdoors will want to head to Keshet Cave, which is perfect for rappelling. Archaeology buffs, meanwhile, will get a kick out of the excavated Talmudic village at Zippori National Park, the ancient Jewish town found at Beit Shearim, and the crusader fortress at Monfort National Park.

Keshet means “arch” in Hebrew, and the Upper Galilee’s Keshet Cave was named for its remarkable shape. As the highest point in the region, the views from the top of Keshet Cave are unparalleled, and it’s a must visit for nature lovers. Whether you want to hike to the top or rappel down the side, people of all skill levels and persuasions will enjoy this site.

In addition to its natural beauty, Keshet Cave also has historic importance. Neolithic artifacts have been discovered here, and visitors can explore the ruins of Tel Ademet, a city above the cave that dates from the Early Bronze period.

For more history, head to Zippori National Park, home to the ruins of the ancient Talmudic and Roman city of Zippori. An important city with a tumultuous past, Zippori has been home to Jews for over a millennium, and visitors can wander through a residential quarter from the Talmudic era as well as a 5th century CE synagogue with spectacular mosaics and an impressive underground water system. The restored ancient Roman amphitheater is well worth a peak as well.

The remains of another ancient Jewish town can be found at Beit Shearim, about 20 kilometers east of Haifa. Founded in the 1st century BCE under King Herod, the city also underwent Byzantine and Arab rule. Historically, when Jews were restricted from being buried at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, they turned to Beit Shearim, and so a great necropolis was built. Visitors today can view the remains of this Jewish necropolis from the 2nd to 4th century CE, which the Talmud says is the burial place of Rabbi Judah HaNassi.

Finally, kids and adults alike will have a field day (literally) at Monfort National Park, which is home to the ruins of a 13th century crusader fortress. Located in the Keziv Stream Nature Reserve, the ruins are accessible only by foot, so wear comfortable shoes! Those who visit the fortress will be rewarded with a rare look into life during those times with a well-preserved Crusader-era farm and the remains of a dam and flourmill. Besides the historical significance, Montfort National Park is also a beautiful site worth a visit alone for its picturesque natural surroundings.