A three-mile stretch of the Israel Trail (Segment 15, from Har Horshan to Jasser e-Zarka), passes through Ramat Hanadiv.
Emergency telephone for on-duty supervisor (after closing time): 053-6452336
Highlights of the Trail:
The pool was created here as an experiment to facilitate and encourage the growth of flora and fauna that live in moist habitats. Among the crowded clumps of water plants growing here is fool's watercress (Apium nodiflorum), a relative of our cultivated celery. Today the pool and its damp surroundings are an important educational tool for Ramat Hanadiv's Education Department.
The hike continues towards the ancient bath house.
The Bath House
Dating from the Roman period, the bath house was supplied with water from Ein Tzur, the nearby spring, enabling the residents of Umm el-'Aleq (today Horvat 'Aleq) to bathe in hot water. The structure is divided into four long consecutive rooms. From the entrance, bathers walked down seven steps to the dressing room (apoditerium). In a corner of this room (frigidarium) was a plunge bath filled with cold water. After dipping themselves in it, bathers emerged into the middle room (tepiderium), then moved on to the hot bath or sauna (caldarium). Note the many short columns here; they supported the raised floor of this room. A heating installation next door generated warm air, which circulated into the space beneath the floor and heated the caldarium above it.
The trail goes past the bath house and comes to the Ein Tzur water system, consisting of the spring, an aqueduct, a water tunnel and a constructed reservoir.
Ein Tzur and the Water System
Three shafts, 11 metres apart, were hewn out of the bedrock of the long, dark Ein Tzur tunnel in order to illuminate and ventilate it and to facilitate maintenance of the water system. The tunnel takes a winding, 47-metre route along a natural fissure in the bedrock ‒ the source of the water. In the winter of 2001, flooding damaged the tunnel's roof and the entrance to it was sealed off.
During the Roman period water accumulated in the tunnel, possibly for use as a ritual bath. To raise the water level and create a pool inside, the tunnel's opening was blocked.
The large reservoir at the end of the aqueduct supplied water to the bath house and fields as well as serving as the public bath. When Beit Khouri was established (c. 1880) on the remains of the archaeological site, the water from Ein Tzur was redirected to a new pool built of stone, west of the Roman pool. In 1939, a group of young Jews from the Betar youth movement founded a small 'stockade and tower' settlement on the hilltop east of the spring, naming it Tel Tzur Hahadasha (the New Tel Tzur). Near the Roman pool they built another one of concrete, and pumped the water from here to supply the settlement's needs.
The Columbarium (Dovecote)
The dovecote is a round tower 18 metres tall. Its name tells its function: The Latin word columbarium means 'dove'. According to a reconstruction of the original, the birds entered the tower via apertures in the upper part of the building and made their nests in cubbyholes fashioned for them along the inside walls of the tower and on two interior walls that stood next to each other. The many doves tended here had a multitude of uses: Their eggs and meat provided food; their excrement fertilized the fields; and the birds themselves were used for ritual purposes (Jewish or pagan).
The trail turns left and continues westward to the large archaeological complex.
The Archaeological Complex
Located at a strategic point, in a fertile agricultural area with crucial water sources nearby, this area was first settled in pre-historic times more than 10,000 years ago. Archaeological digs here have revealed a multi-layered site; their rich findings bear witness to the life styles of its inhabitants across the millenia. The site was populated throughout the Iron Age and the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods, up until the 2nd century CE. It has been reconstructed as it was at its peak, at the start of the Hellenistic period. Among the outstanding elements visible are the original stockade and watchtowers that surrounded the settlement. The place was reinhabited during the Ottoman era, when Umm el-'Aleq was established.
The Israel Trail passes Beit Khouri. We recommend that you take a short break from your hike to visit this site!
This building is the remnant of the large farmhouse built by the El-Khouri family around 1880. Constructed room by room, the house surrounds an internal courtyard. Most of the building stones used in its construction were taken from the ancient farmstead that once existed at Horvat 'Aqav. Though the El-Khouris were Christian, they erected a mosque for their Moslem tenants (the large, conspicuous hall that stands at the south side of the manor house).
In 1913, the El-Khouri farm was purchased by the Jewish Colonisation Association (ICA) on behalf of Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Today the farm and the lands surrounding it comprise the grounds of Ramat Hanadiv. From 1919-23, three groups of Jewish pioneers came to the site intending to create a permanent settlement, but their efforts were defeated by disease and other disasters. The farm still holds a few reminders of their lives here, such as a charred brick oven in the kitchen, and a cast loor from 1920 in the former mosque, which served as the pioneers' dining room.
Within Ramat Hanadiv's perimeters are many limestone quarries, which supplied building stones for the ancient settlements here and perhaps those nearby. The limestone layer that yielded the stones needed for construction was not more than six metres deep. When miners reached the soft bedrock beneath the limestone, they simply left their shallow quarry and went elsewhere to mine. Over time, most of the quarries were buried beneath soil and vegetation; others turned into seasonal pools in rainy winters and provided habitats for frogs, toads, and other aquatic creatures.
From here the trail returns to its starting point at the trailhead, where the Nature Park's three marked hiking trails converge. This is the ideal spot to take a break and enjoy the beautiful Memorial Gardens of Ramat Hanadiv.
You can unload your rucksacks and leave them in lockers at the Visitors Pavilion before setting out on a leisurely stroll into another world: the Ramat Hanadiv Memorial Gardens, built to commemorate the life and deeds of Baron Edmond de Rothschild and his wife Adelheid (Ada).
These gracious, colour-filled gardens were planned specifically as a peaceful escape from the clamours of daily life. At the heart of the gardens is the Rothschilds' tomb, set within a series of meticulously designed and maintained gardens. As you walk through them, take time to appreciate their elegant combinations of native and cultivated plants (many of them drought-resistant), their bubbling water features ‒ rills, fountains, and pools ‒ and above all, the tranquility that pervades the entire place.
• Lockers (free of charge), located next to the InfoShop
• Water and toilets
• Passport control: Have your Israel Trail 'passports' stamped at the InfoShop, open from 8 a.m-4 p.m. Saturday through Thursday; from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday.
After visiting the Memorial Gardens, you can go back to the Ramat Hanadiv trailhead to continue hiking the Israel Trail, which at this point converges with the Nature Park's Manor Trail (marked in red), leading to Horvat 'Aqav ‒ where a particularly interesting panorama awaits.
The Hebrew name of the ruin is based on the sound of its Arabic name, Hirbat Mansour el-'Eqeb. In front of it is a sign with text in red, describing the site during the Second Temple period (1st century CE). The green text gives the history of the rustic manor house that was built here during the Byzantine period, atop what was once a fortified farmstead.
The archaeological site was rehabilitated in memory of Amschel Rothschild, who died in 1996 at the age of 41. Olive trees have been planted around the ruin along with figs and grapevines. In early times these were important crops at Ramat Hanadiv and throughout the land of Israel, as can be seen from the ancient olive and wine presses unearthed at Horvat 'Aqav. Herbs such as wild marjoram (Majorana syriaca), Cretan germander (Teucrium creticum), and African rue (Ruta chalepensis ) were also planted here.
At the western side of the complex, overlooking the Carmel coastal plain, the agricultural processing facilities of the Second Temple period farmstead were discovered. A press for crushing grapes is located next to the western portal (another press is next to the eastern wall). Most elements of the winepress were hewn out of the rock, except for the wide walls, parts of which were constructed and then apparently plastered over. The pressing floor, carved out of the rock, was coated with a thick layer of white plaster; it slanted towards a pit where the raw grape juice was collected. The final squeezing of the grapes was carried out in the press utilising a board and weights, the method common in this region at the time.
North (to the right) of the wine press stands a heavy round stone. This stone (called a memel in the Mishna) was part of the olive press. Here the olives were crushed into a mash from which the oil was extracted.
During the threshing process, the sheaves of grain were beaten in threshing tools to separate the grains from the husks; afterwards the grains were winnowed from the chaff by tossing them into the air. The heavy grains fell down, while the lightweight chaff blew aside. The location of the threshing floor at the edge of the cliff, exposed to the west wind, made the work easier.
The sheaves of grain were brought to the barn from the wheat field, which apparently stretched across the large area east of the estate. The barn's threshing floor is north of the olive press at the northwest corner of the Second Temple period complex.
At the edges of the Ramat Hanadiv ridge unfurl the cultivated fields of the Carmel coastal plain. To the north is Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael; to the left of it, Jasser e-Zarka, Caesarea and Or Akiva. The sand dunes enveloping ancient Caesarea can be seen to the south; further along, the chimneys of the Orot Rabin power station pierce the sky. The hills of Samaria, Ramot Menashe and the Carmel range are to the east. Along the ridge, Keren Hacarmel (Mukhraka) stands out as the major landmark.
Very few circular winepresses have been discovered in this area. This one, its crushing floor tiled with mosaics, is installed permanently with a huge wooden screw. Both the mosaic floor and the wooden screw are characteristic elements of Byzantine winepresses. The screw was used as a roller, which wrung the last drops of juice out of the grapes after they had been crushed underfoot in the press. The juice then flowed into a large storage pit.
Southeast of the wine press is Horvat 'Aqav's second water cistern, with a volume of some 50 cubic metres. It was used during the Byzantine period and, as far as can be ascertained, during the Second Temple period as well. Engraved stones and the remains of a channel can be seen around the cistern's opening. Hewn into the stone, the channel carried rainwater into the cistern.
From Horvat 'Aqav the trail goes south towards the Tumulus Fields, where it turns west into the Hotem HaCarmel Nature Reserve, in the direction of Jasser e-Zarka.
Ramat Hanadiv, the Memorial Gardens and the Nature Park are private property. Please help us protect the site by observing the following rules:
• Lighting a fire is permitted ONLY in the picnic area adjacent to the gardens. Do not light a match or fire anywhere else in the park!
• All visitors must leave the grounds by sunset. Sleeping overnight in the park is prohibited.
• Stay on the marked paths.
• Help keep Ramat Hanadiv clean: No littering, please!
Happy rambling, everyone!