On Friday, we were looking for a short day trip and decided on Migdal Tzedek in Rosh Haayin. The Parks Authority is in the middle of renovating this castle, found on an important route between Syria and Egypt. Archological evidence shows settlement from the Roman and Byzantine period, as well as Jewish settlement during the Second Temple period when it was known as Migdal Afek. The Jewish settlement was destroyed during the great rebellion against Rome in 67 CE.
In the beginning of the 12th century, the crusaders built a castle here and called it Mirabel. Muslims captured it in 1187, and in 1191, they destroyed it in the aftermath of the third crusade. The Muslims rebuilt it late in their rule, 1291-1516. From the 16th century on, the area was part of an Arab village.
In the 19th century, during the rule of the Ottoman Turks, the ruler Tzadek Jamani built a castle on the spot. Most of the remains are from that era, but some are still from the 12th century.
You can see Migdal Tzedek in Rosh Haayin while traveling on Highway 6 to your east, just north of the Nachshonim interchange.
After touring the castle, we saw a sign for a walk to a lookout over Rosh Haayin. The sign said that the walk was for “meitivei lechet,” or experienced hikers. It looked pretty tame so I said we should walk as far as we could, and then turn back.
Below on the left is what my son referred to as the “Holyland” of Rosh Haayin. Like the project in Jerusalem, this one doesn’t seem to fit in and there is speculation about who was bribed to get it built.
Below are the chatzavim (squill), one of the few plants that flowers at the end of the summer.
Here’s a pool from the Byzantine period.
A cactus, or tzabar, with some prickly fruit. The tzabar was adapted as a name for native Israelis (sabras). However, cacti originated in the New World.
The desolate landscape looked like it had survived a recent forest fire.
A tour of an ancient castle in Israel is never complete without a burial cave from the time of the Second Temple:
The hour-long hike proved easier than advertised and my 6-year-old only needed a hand here and there. Usually it’s the other way around—a “family hike” involves climbing down steep rock faces. Unfortunately the temperature was about a thousand degrees, and there was no shade.
We’ll be looking forward to returning, with lots of water, when the castle has been renovated and there are more signs and explanations.
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