Artists and archeology

Enjoying nature, history and more in the Golan.

Artists and archeology (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Artists and archeology
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
With a short break between holidays and winter almost upon us, there is a special feeling in the air. The temperature is still warm and pleasant but not too hot, and it is a good time to enjoy some sights on the lower Golan Heights.
All you need is two to three days to spend just two kilometers north of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). As you travel on Road 888, turn right into Hayarden Park. This wonderful spot – which is large for an Israeli park, at 100 hectares (247 acres) – offers some unique treasures.
The most apparent one is the Jordan River, which runs through the park, a fact that ensures there is water all year round. The Jordan is our major river source; it has the power to make all the grounds surrounding it green throughout the year. As a result, the park offers lots of activities for couples, families and groups of all sizes. There is room for everyone and enough water for all along the streams and inlets.
In the park, you will find thick vegetation, trees, reeds, water plants and grassy areas. Among them are plenty of isolated and private corners, which allow many visitors to find their heavenly spot of tranquility, surrounded by walls of greenery and the sound of the fresh water that flows alongside.
The park offers campsites and many moderate hiking trails, some accessible to the handicapped.
Among the activities, there are fishing and birdwatching, an opportunity for nature lovers toenjoy the rich wildlife. In the last few years the park has been successfully managed, and has developed attractive new options for visitors – including the fairly new guest cabins, which are basic but great for people who prefer a real ceiling above their heads at night.
If you prefer a more comfortable lodging alternative after enjoying the day in the park, there are a variety of bed-and-breakfasts (tzimmerim) in the neighboring towns. The closest is just a kilometer up the road in Had- Nes, where you will find some luxurious tzimmerim like Cnaan Village, which is aimed at couples, with its quiet suites that offer a spectacular view of the Kinneret.
After a good rest and a tasty breakfast, continue to Aniam for a visit to the colorful artists village that is located right in front of the moshav entrance. Turn left into the parking lot and start your tour on the main (and only) street, with colorful studios and shops on each side.
Established 10 years ago, today 17 studios allow the artists to create, show and sell their art.
In the various shops you can find paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, candles and even chocolate-making.
The village also has two restaurants, which are kosher and closed on Saturdays, but the artist studios are open all week long.
From Aniam, continue on Road 808 toward Moshav Natur. Nearby stands the ruin of an old Syrian village – Um el-Kanatir, or Ein Kshatot. The village homes are only the introduction to the real ancient Jewish jewel. Once the village came under Israeli control in 1967, archeologists found an impressive old synagogue that had been taken apart by the Syrian villagers, whose fine stones the Syrians used in building their houses.
The process of reconstructing the original synagogue began only recently, with an effort to recover and map every stone to fit to its original location in the synagogue.
A small chip was even inserted in the middle of each one, to ensure no stone would lose its identity due to the elements.
The synagogue site is still closed to visitors, but you can see it up close from nearby. There is also a trail that leads through the village to a set of three arches, which served as a linen factory, using the water from the local spring.
This is a beautiful spot to spend the afternoon, with a nice view to the west all the way to Mount Tabor.
The Golan Heights continues to reveal itself to us. It is a pleasure to walk in our predecessors’ steps, and be able to enjoy both the nature and the modern facilities that make our visit a delightful one.