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  • Writer's pictureRaz Tsafrir

The Golan Heights

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

The Golan in an elevated volcanic plateau stretching for 70 km from the Yarmouk rive in the south, to the Saar river in the north. The Golan is covered with basalt rock and inactive volcanoes from north to south. In biblical times the area was known as Bashan and was not inherited to the 12 Jewish tribes. The Yaturi tribe inhabited the region living off the land, but there are signs of ancient pagan rituals in places like Rujum el Hiri that date back 5000 years.

Jewish settlement in the Golan date back to the 2nd temple era, with famous towns as Gamla, Qazrin, Ein Kshatot and Banias.

Gamla was the first town to fall to the Romans in the big rebellion in 67 AD and its massive suicide happened 6 years before Masada. Ancient synagogues in those ancient Jewish settlements are still standing, especially the reconstructed one in Ein Kshatot. The Golan is one of the most beautiful regions in Israel, with snowy winters, big rivers, amazing scenery, cool cowboy life, excellent food and clean, fresh air. The Golan is filled with natural and man-made pools (we call them officers pools) where yo ucan dip and enjoy cold fresh water in a hot summer day.

The Golan is divided by a political border between Israel and Syria but its important to remember that it actually stretches east to he Rokad river, deep inside Syria. Israel conquered the Golan from Syria in the 6 day was in 1967 and annexed it in 1981. Today the Golan is flourishing with more than 40,000 Jewish settlers living side by side with some 10,000 Druze, enjoying excellent quality of life and easy access to Israel's only ski resort on mount Hermon.

The Golan is a site to some brutal battles in the Yom Kipur war in 1973. Tel Saki, Tel Faher, Emek Habaha and others are a vivid memory of the huge cost of living in this land. Today these sites are visited by tourists who see and hear of soldiers bravery.

Mt. Hermon stands proud at 2,230 meters. The highest mountain in Israel, and our only ski resort.

Ein Kshatot, a 2000 years old reconstructed synagogue. 2M stones were put together to resurrect this amazing monument from the 2nd temple era.

Tel Saki, an Israeli 1973 battlefield against the Syrians.

Nimrod fortress, a 13th century Mamluc fortress overlooking the Hula valley and the Golan.

The heroic stories of the Gamla rebels who fought the Romans and when the walls were compromised, decided to jump from the city walls, 5 years before Masada.

Banias, a 6,000 years old city built for Pan, the God of the shepherds, and the Agripas palace.

The hot springs of the Roman city Hamat Gader.

The Jordan river (upper part) in winter. An amazing experience.

Iris falls, Zavitan river at winter.

My bike on top of Alonei Habashan, Golan Heights.

Other attractions include: walking trails in the Yehudia, Elal and Jilabun rivers and "Officers pool"; Volcanic park walks through the geological eras; War memorials in Tel Fahr, Bacha valley; The Old city of Qatzrin, and nearby Golan winery.

The Golan cowboys graze cattle and produce great wine.  The Golan offers great food and excellent volcanic scenery. We get to see all that in our 7 and 14 day tours of Israel. In these tours we also spend a night in the Golan and ride through some mountains to overlook Syria.

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