The Golan Heights

The Golan Heights is a much talked about and visited area in the northern part of Israel. During my military service I spent almost a year in the Golan and learned to appreciate the awesome beauty of the place.

A view of the Golan HeightsA view of the Golan Heights. Picture by Or Hiltch.

The Golan borders with the Galilee and the Sea of Galilee in the west and south west. On the south east it borders with the kingdom of Jordan. On the eastern border you will find Syria and on the northern border is Lebanon.

The Golan is unique as far as its topography, as it is the only place in Israel where you will be able to ski. Yes, amazingly enough you can ski in Israel – on Mount Hermon. I know, it's hard to imagine but it's true!

Mount Hermon, your best (and only) ski option in IsraelMount Hermon, your best (and only) ski option in Israel. Picture by Or Hiltch.

The Golan is also the only place in the country in which you will find dormant volcanic activity. The evidence for the volcanic nature of the place is seen by looking at the basalt black stones that are abundant there.

The history of the Golan is at least 5,000 years long. The Golan changed hands along the course of ancient history between many cultures, including the Amorites, Israelites, Assyrians, Persians and even Alexander the Great.

The Golan is mostly a rural area. If you are into outdoor activities and sports, nature, fascinating archeology – you will love the Golan. It is perfect for people who love to hike, and a great escape from the city.

The Main Golan Heights Attractions

What should you see while in the Golan?

Actually there are quite a lot of cool and interesting sites to visit:

  • The center of the Golan is the small town of Katzrin that serves as the capital of the area. The town has an interesting antiquities park and an awesome winery that in my opinion makes the best wine in Israel.
The archeology park in KatzrinThe archeology park in Katzrin
Mount Hermon ski resort in IsraelMount Hermon ski resort in Israel
  • Gamla is a fascinating ancient Jewish town, and has a similar story to that of Masada. It is also a fantastic nature reserve.
Gamla reserveGamla reserve. By Jonas B.
  • Nimrod fortress is another nature reserve in the Golan Heights and also the site of a great castle.
The Nimrod FortressThe Nimrod Fortress. By Chadica.
  • Hamat Gader is a lovely recreation park with pampering hot mineral springs. It too has archeological sites with a Roman theater and bath. Another attraction (or distraction depending on how you look at it) is the alligator farm nearby. And no – the alligators don’t bath in the mineral springs.
The natural mineral hot springs at Hamat GaderThe natural mineral hot springs at Hamat Gader. By Dlisbona.
Gilgal RefaimGilgal Refaim - an ancient and mysterious stone monument. Picture taken from the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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