Mount Carmel towers over 15 miles of Israel’s Mediterranean Coastline between Hadera and Haifa. Mount Carmel has always been a symbol of beauty, and whilst it is not especially high, with a peak of just 550m above sea level, the change in scenery from the flat Coastal Plain makes it a striking landform. Ranging views across the flat coastal plain and onto the Mediterranean to the West, and the Alona and later Jezreel Valleys in the Galilee to the East are breathtaking.
Why Mount Carmel?
The higher altitude of Mount Carmel means it receives greater levels of rainfall than the land below, giving birth to abundant pine forests, including the Carmel National Park. In Spring, over 650 species of plant blossom and perhaps this water, combined with its strategic location, can explain the settlement which has taken place here for millenia. Today, many pretty towns and villages adjourn the slopes of Mount Carmel including Zichron Yaakov, whilst the slopes of the far north are home to the city of Haifa.
Haifa, Israel’s third city, sits on the northern slopes of Mount Carmel, giving breathtaking views out across the Bay of Haifa. On the lower slopes in the city are the Bahai Gardens, which open up into the city’s recently restored German Colony.
Zichron Yaakov was one of the first modern settlements established in the Land of Israel, Zichron Yaakov developed as a result of wine, with the rich fertile soils of the Carmel making it a feasible place to grow vines. Today, the town has a pretty center through which you can walk, as well as wineries to visit, in Zichron itself, and neighboring Binyamina. Between the two towns, on the southern slopes of Mount Carmel is Ramat Hanadiv – the beautiful memorial gardens for Baron Edmond de Rothschild who played a massive role in the development of this region. This Caesarea, Wine Country, and Kibbutz Experience Tour visits a winery in Zichron Yaakov.
About 10 minutes drive inland from Zichron Yaakov is the little settlement of Bat Shlomo. A traditional agricultural settlement which hasnt developed or commercialised, the village has some small art galleries, and old synagogue, and a great farm where they make cheese and have a small cafe.
Ein Hod is located between Zichron Yaakov and Haifa. A famous artists colony on the slopes of Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean, Ein Hod’s little streets are home to a large number of artists and artisans, many of whom open their homes to the public, or exhibit their works in the public communal gallery in the center of the village.
Over 80 dunams of the Carmel Mountain Nature Reserve with paths and trails offering scenic routes for hiking and biking as well as breathtaking lookouts with views spreading as far as the Upper Galilee. Elsewhere in the reserve is “Hai-Bar” – a wildlife reserve where animals and birds which have previously become extinct from the area have been reintroduced into the area.
The Druze are a minority group who live peacefully in Israel and are renowned for their hospitality. Their villages in Mount Carmel and Golan regions, offer not only an insight into their interesting religion, but great food. Visiting and experiencing this is known as Druze Hospitality.