En Hemed National Park

June 22nd 2011

Crusaders, busy Israeli highways, and a beautiful national park.

Doesn’t seem to go together now, does it?

And yet, straight off the busy Jerusalem- Tel Aviv highway, you can find a luscious path of ground that hosts spectacular lawns, picturesque picnic grounds for all of your Israel photo opportunity needs, and springs bursting from the Kesalon Stream across the rocks like nobody’s business.

The place is En Hemed (Aqua Bella in Latin) National Park, and it is so named by the Crusaders, meaning “Beautiful Waters”.

As you pass the Kesalon Stream, you will come across a two story, nicely fortified Crusader manor house, believed to be a home back in the day on agricultural land. The Crusaders knew how to crush their olives, and you can find within the hallway that goes out from the central courtyard an olive-oil press.

There is a lot of history buried beneath the ground at En Hemed National Park, literally. As you follow a path, you will be lead through a grove to a cave that is a burial ground believed to date back to the times of the Second Temple.

If you spot the observation point above the valley of the Park, you will be privileged to witness an unbelievable view, that showcases the pleasant contrast between natural greenery of the Judean mountainous region and the busy roads and villages that surround it.

Interestingly themed tours are available to the public, as long as you reserve in time; you’ve got a choosy selection of either a) Genesis- the Creation of the World in Seven Stations, b) Nature’s Right to Water and c) William the Crusader. You’re not going to get those types of tours at any old Botanical Gardens of the US!

And if you’re more courageously inclined, strike up a barbeque at this location (mangal), host your wedding here ( mazel tov!),  or just catch up on your soccer days with your children as you weave in and amongst the luscious grounds; these are all popular tourist and native activities at En Hemed Park. Plus check out if there are any festivals being held at E.H; acrobats have been known to be flung amongst the trees and circus acts performed in the area.

Just like in the Crusader’s times, this spot is an ideal rest stop location as you labor on in your exciting touring process. It is believed that this was a popular Crusader pit stop in its hay day 850 years ago.

Well worth the trip, En Hemed National Park will be sure to be a simple, relaxing highlight of your Israel tour.