Rosh Pina is a small city neighbouring Safed that, along with the ancient city of Hazor, comprise a tri-city feature filled with rich history, beautiful buildings and scenery and today, light industry and tourism. The youngest of the three cities, Rosh Pina was founded in the later half of the 19th century by Baron Rothschild, governing the local British rule. He built a synagogue first and then orchestrated the building of the houses and schools that is now the old, quaint neighbourhood of Rosh Pina.
Rosh Pina’s quaint streets, by mykaul, via Flickr
At the entrance of Rosh Pina, facing the Hula Valley and the Golan, two malls can be found. One of them contains larger, more commercial stores and the other is of upscale boutique shops set in a beautiful layout. It is a shopper’s paradise! Leading up the mountain, and into the depths of the city, the main road runs all the way to the original neighbourhood. A walking path, similar to a promenade, features sculptures and pictures of the founding and settling of Rosh Pina in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A twenty-minute walk uphill to the old neighbourhood provides one with exercise and lungfuls of sweet, pure mountain air – as well as a great view of the majestic snow-capped Mt Hermon, Israel’s tallest peak at 2,236 meters (7,336 feet).
Rosh Pina’s old, original neighbourhood starts with the Baron’s Park, a small wooded area with stone steps and flowers leading up to the residential area. Continuing uphill, the historical home of Professor Mer can be visited. Professor Gideon Mer was given the property by Baron Rothschild to research for a solution to the malaria problem that plagued the inhabitants around the swampy Hula Valley. The Professor was eventually transferred to Burma during the Second World War and served as the chief physician to the British forces in Burma who also suffered from malaria. Today his residence is a national site with his private office preserved for all to see.
Rosh Pina by amir85, on Flickr
Next to the Mer House is another historical building with a multi-screen theatre that shows a film of Rosh Pina’s history and transformation to the lovely city it is now. The film is available in English, Hebrew and Russian and costs NIS 15 for adults and NIS 10 for children and the elderly. The film is shown at 11:00 am, 12:00 noon and 1:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays without prior reservation needed. Any other time or day needs to be reserved in advance for groups above 8 people. (Phone reservations: 04-693-6913)
Continuing to the end of the line of houses, the local cemetery and memorial for fallen soldiers can be seen and entered, respectively. Going uphill slightly more, the synagogue – Rosh Pina’s first public building – can be visited. The synagogue fell out of use in the 1930s and has recently been fixed up and repopulated. Several more historical features are marked and each deserve a peek at the least. At the far end of Rosh Pina, the uppermost part, there is the Nimrod Lookout with incredible views of Hazor, Rosh Pina, the Hula Valley, the Golan Mountains and of course, Mt. Hermon and the Druze village, Majdal Shams, on the face of the mountain.
Staying in Rosh Pina is a treat. Many locals have opened up “zimmers” (best translated as a bed & breakfast but not always serving food) often including pools, saunas and other amenities. The zimmers industry booms in small, quaint cities such as Rosh Pina and it provides guests a chance to relax and absorb the peaceful aura that resonates in such tranquil locales – some of the zimmers in Rosh Pina are among the best in Israel.
By: Shem Tov Sasson. A Contributing Journalist for Tourist Israel, Shem Tov lives in the small Israeli city of Ma’alot. His personal blog about his experiences and adventures in the Holy Land can be found at Israel’s Good Name.