Golan Heights Attractions
Situation and characteristicsThe Golan Heights, which were annexd by Israel in 1981, lie to the east of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, extending from north to south between the foothills of Mount Hermon and the river Yarmouk for a distance of 50km/30mi and reaching some 20km/12.5mi east of the Jordan.This high plateau reaches its greatest height in Mount Avital (Har Avital; 1,204m/3,950ft), to the west of Quneitra. The Golan Heights consist mainly of volcanic basalt and are dissected by numerous wadis. The population comprises in addition to Jews a few remaining Arabs and numerous Druze peasants. Since the area was occupied by the Israelis much has been done to improve the infrastructure, for example by the establishment of schools and the improvement of medical care.HistoryIn ancient times there were numbers of Jewish settlements in this area. In the first century A.D. it belonged to Herod's son Philip, who founded Caesarea Philippi. At the south end of the area, on the Yarmouk, was Gadara, an important center of Greek culture which was also frequented for its mineral springs.From 1948 onwards the Israeli frontier with Syria ran along the Jordan. After the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967 a number of Jewish settlements were established. United Nations troops are stationed in a buffer zone along the frontier. At the end of 1981 Israel declared the annexation of the Golan Heights.Organized coach and taxi trips to the Golan Heights usually take visitors to see conquered Syrian positions. Other reminders of the battles which raged here between 1967 and 1973 are the settlements with their barbed-wire defenses, tanks abandoned by the roadside and the debris of war welded together to make primitive memorials of the fighting.
The site of the ancient city of Gamla, destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 68, was located in 1970 some 10km/6mi southeast of Katzrin. Excavation has brought to light remains of dwelling-houses, a synagogue and water conduits.Other important archeological finds have been made in the En Gev and Hamat Gader areas.
8km/5mi southeast of the Benot Ya'aqov Bridge, in the center of the Golan area, is Katzrin (Qazrin), a little town which is the administrative center for the Israeli settlements on the Golan Heights. It has an interesting archeological museum and, a short distance away, the excavated remains of a fourth century synagogue.
In the northern part of the Golan Heights, in the foothills of Mount Hermon, is the moshav of Newe Ativ, Israel's winter sports center (ski-lifts).