The Banias Waterfall provides one of Israel’s most beautifully tranquil spots. Set within the Banias Nature Reserve in the Golan, the Banias is a spring which rises from the base of Mount Hermon, Israel’s tallest mountain, flowing for about 3.5km through a gorge, eventually coming to the impressive waterfall, the largest in Israel.
A visit to the Banias can incorporate one of the hiking trails through the reserve, shaded from the hot summer sun by the impressive shade of the dense, lush green forest. These trails combine the nature and the history. As well as the impressive waterfall and stream that provides water to the River Jordan, one of the most famous rivers in the world, which it meets just a few kilometers downstream, the reserve contains an impressive array of flora and fauna. You might be lucky enough to see rock hyrax, a small land mammal which loosely resembles the guinea pig and hides among cracks and crevices in rocks, or in the depths of the caves, flocks of rock doves.
The ruins at Banias by david55king, on Flickr
The ancient city that lay at Banias was originally Dan (Mivzar Dan – the Fort of Dan) which stood atop a cliff containing a cave dedicated to the Greek god Pan (from here the name Panias comes, and this was changed to Banias when translated to Arabic.) During the conquests of the land, the city fell under the rule of the Romans, and King Herod, built a temple here in memory of Augustus. When Herod’s son, Philip took control of the area, he changed the name to Caesarea Philipi (note, the other Caesarea, on the Mediterranean was also Herod’s city, a major seaport.) In the New Testament, the Banias site is where Jesus demanded to know of his disciples who people were saying he was.
Today, amid the natural beauty of the Banias reserve lies ruins from the past two of which are especially noteworthy. The Banias Cave is that cave mentioned built for the Greek god Pan, and in front of this, the remains of Herod’s temple can be seen.
Cooling waters of the Banias by david55king, on Flickr
The Banias reserve and Banias waterfall are an impressive place to spend some time, refreshing, relaxing, and really overwhelmingly beautiful.