A scenic view not overlooked

The Nimrod Fortress is so well situated that no conqueror has managed to destroy it.

The Nimrod Fortress (photo credit: Itsik Marom)
The Nimrod Fortress
(photo credit: Itsik Marom)
High places have always been preferred sites to control an area.
This has been the case since ancient times, especially in Eretz Yisrael. Numerous conquerors throughout the centuries have used this strategy.
Rising 800 meters above sea level, the Nimrod Fortress was built in 1228 on the northern Golan Heights by the governor of Banyas, Al Aziz Othman. It was constructed to control the road between Acre and Damascus and block the invasion of the Crusaders and other potential foes. The fortress is named after the biblical hunter Nimrod who, according to the tradition could sit on the summit and reach out his hand to take fresh water from the Banyas stream.
The Nimrod Fortress reached its full magnificent dimensions after Mameluke sultan Baybars conquered it. At that time the fortress became a palace, which Baybars gave to his right-hand man Bilik in 1275. Baybars left his mark inscribed for the future, carved into a large stone that exists to this day.
At the end of the 13th century, the fortress lost its strategic value after the Crusaders were forced out of the area. The structure was then used as a palace prison for high-ranking Ottoman nobles who had been exiled to the Holy Land. In the years after that, the fortress was abandoned, and the compound was left mainly to passersby and occasionally to shepherds who climbed the hills to seek pasture land for their goats.
The site was neglected until 1967. After the Six Day War, Nimrod became part of Israel.
Recognizing the historic value of the location, the government created hiking trails originating from the Hula Valley and climbing through the natural wadis and reaching the fortress. Once Highway 989 was completed, Nimrod became accessible, and restoration was done to open it to the public as a national monument under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The giant site, which is 420 meters long and 150 meters wide, is the largest fortress in the country. It has been very well preserved over the years, and one could easily spend three to five hours visiting its watchtowers, large rooms, arches and stairways. A key attraction is the panoramic view of Mount Hermon to the north, the Golan to the east and the lower valleys to the south. Looking at its massive walls, one could easily go back in time and imagine the confident soldiers defending the place and rushing off to their missions.
The fortress is so well situated that no conqueror has ever destroyed it. In fact, realizing its strategic value, most contributed to its improvement. Israel continues to preserve and improve the Nimrod Fortress to ensure that it will remain a national treasure for all to enjoy.