Rosh Ha'ayin Tourist Attractions
Situation and characteristicsThe town of Rosh Ha'ayin ("Head of the Spring"; Arabic Ras el-Ain) lies in the plain of Sharon northeast of Tel Aviv, 4km/2.5mi beyond Petah Tiqwa and immediately east of the Lod- Hadera-Haifa railroad line. Like the neighboring old-established settlements of Tel Afeq and Migdal Afeq, it owes its prosperity to its situation near the source of the Yarqon, one of the few rivers in Israel which flow throughout the year.HistoryAbout 1080 B.C. the Philistines mustered their army at Aphek (Afeq), while the Israelites gathered at Eben-ezer. In the battle that followed the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, which had been brought from Shiloh (1 Samuel 4,1-4), and took it to Ashdod but later returned it to Beth-shemesh.In Hellenistic times Afeq was known as Pegai ("Springs", referring to the sources of the Yarqon). After being destroyed by the Hasmoneans the town was rebuilt by Pompey and given the name of the water nymph Arethusa. In 35 B.C. Herod built a square fort which he named Antipatris after his father. The Apostle Paul spent a night here while being taken from Jerusalem to Caesarea in the year 60 (Acts 23,31).Southeast of Afeq/Antipatris is the hill of Migdal Afeq or Migdal Zedeq, on which there were ancient and (on the evidence of a Greek inscription) Byzantine fortifications built to protect the sources of the Yarqon. The place became of major importance, however, only in the Crusader period, when the castle of Mirabel was held by Constable Manasses of Hierges. During Baldwin III's conflict with his mother Queen Melisande over his title to the throne he surprised and captured her supporter Manasses in Mirabel in 1152. Manasses was compelled to leave the country, Baldwin appointed his friend Humphrey, Lord of Toron, as Constable and Melisande was allowed to retire to Nablus and was effectively excluded from political activity.After the end of the Crusader period the fortress of Afeq/Antipatris was held by the Mamelukes and later by the Turks. In more recent times it has retained importance thanks to its abundance of water. In 1936 the British authorities built a pipeline to convey water from the springs to Jerusalem and established a military post to protect the supply. After Israel became independent in 1948 this developed into the town of Rosh Ha'ayin when numbers of new immigrants, mainly from Yemen, settled here. In 1955 the Israeli government laid a 100km/60mi long pipeline from the Yarqon springs to the Negev, and in 1960 this was linked up with the National Water Carrier which cuts across Israel from the Jordan.
On Tel Afeq, to the west of Rosh Ha'ayin, is a large square fortified caravanserai built by the Turks in the 17th century on the site of the Herodian fortress of Antipatris.
3km/2mi southeast of Rosh Ha'ayin, on the hill of Migdal Afeq, are the overgrown ruins of the castle of Mirabel, of which substantial remains survive.