HaNadiv gardens, A.K.A. Ramat HaNadiv, is a nature park with memorial gardens near Zichron Yaakov. And today we are going to visit it. Let’s begin!
Ramat HaNadiv is located at the southern end of Mount Carmel, to the south of Zichron Ya’akov and to the north of Binyamina.
Map of the area:
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 8:00 – 16:00
Friday: 8:00 – 14:00
- on Tuesday the park is open till 19:00.
- on Saturday the crypt is closed.
- you can find the full opening hours (including holidays) at the official site.
In order to understand who Ramat HaNadiv references to, we need to make a short history dive.
Baron Edmond de Rothschild
Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) was a major figure in the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Giving support to the Yishuv (the pre-State Jewish community in the land of Israel) became his life’s work and endured for many decades.
He acquired large tracts of land and sent expert agronomists from Europe to help the pioneering farmers. Forty-four villages were established with the support of the Baron and his descendants; among them are those that bear the names of Rothschild family members: Zikhron Ya’akov, named after the Baron’s father; Givat Ada, in honour of his wife Adelheid; and Binyamina ¬- a tribute to the Baron himself.
In addition to supporting agricultural enterprises, the Baron left his indelible mark on the health, educational, and religious sectors of the Yishuv, and on its early industrial development, establishing the first wineries and power plants in his effort to assist the Jewish community towards independence.
The Baron’s death in 1934 at the age of 89 marked the end of a long and full life. Some 20 years after his death on 6 April 1954, his remains and those of his wife Adelheid were brought to Israel and re-interred at Ramat Hanadiv in a state ceremony with full honours.
Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.
To sum up, Ramat Hanadiv is a memorial to Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
Ramat HaNadiv Trail Map
HaNadiv gardens consist of memorial gardens and a nature park. The memorial gardens are roughly in the middle and you can use them as the starting (and the ending) point for hiking and cycling trails across the nature park.
The Memorial Gardens
The Memorial Gardens beckon guests into a place of rare tranquillity. You may stroll the pathways here among exquisitely landscaped gardens and breathe their fragrance throughout the year.
A gracious combination of European formality and Mediterranean-style vegetation, the Gardens reflect the Baron de Rothschild’s legacy of dignity and modesty. At the crypt of the Baron and his wife, visitors can pay their respects to the man known as the ‘the Father of the Yishuv’.
Hikes At Ramat HaNadiv
The Nature Park offers visitors many pleasurable pursuits. Circular hiking trails of varying levels of difficulty are studded with observation points. Along the way visitors can view Mediterranean scenery and remnants of ancient human settlement, discover a spring hidden amidst the greenery, and examine the special acclimatization cage where birds of prey are prepared for release back into nature as part of Ramat Hanadiv’s efforts to re-establish and preserve the fauna of the land of Israel.
Ramat HaNadiv offers three circular trails. They all start east to the memorial gardens.
At the eastern parking, you can see this post, this is the starting and the ending point of the trails.
The main trails are:
|Name||Color||Main Points Of Interest||Length||Approximate hiking time||Level|
|The Spring trail||Blue||Ein Tzur, ancient bathhouse and other archeological POI||2.5 km||1.5 hours||Easy (families)|
|The Manor trail||Red||Horvat ‘Aqav||4 km||2 hours||Easy|
|The Vultures trail||Green||Rich fauna and acclimatization cage for raptors||4 km||2.5 hours||Medium (fit walkers)|
The Spring Trail
And now, let’s explore my favorite trails. We will start with the Spring Trail. In the following photo, you can see the blue marking.
The spring trail is on quite a level plane and suitable for families. Nonetheless, I would suggest taking appropriate shoes, plenty of water, hats, and sunscreen.
One of the main POI along the Spring Trail is Ein Tzur spring and the water system.
In the photo above, you can see remains of pools and Roman bathhouse which receives water from Ein Tzur aqueduct.
Ein Tzur Water System
In the Ein Tzur tunnel three shafts, 11 meters apart. They were hewn out of the bedrock to illuminate and ventilate the dark tunnel and to facilitate maintenance of the water system. The tunnel takes a winding, 47-meter long route along a natural fissure in the bedrock, the source of the water.
In the winter of 2001, a flood caused damage to the tunnel’s roof. A pillar was erected at the entrance to the tunnel to reinforce the roof. It was based on the example of an ancient pillar next to the first shaft.
During The Roman period water accumulated in the tunnel, possibly for use as a ritual bath. To raise the water level and create a pool within, the opening of the tunnel was blocked. Some 2,100 coins from the Byzantine period (324-638 CE) were discovered beneath this tunnel. A historical source from that period (the ‘Bordeaux Pilgrim’) attributes healing powers to spring at Har Sinah, near Caesarea. This was likely the pool that attracted pilgrims in those days. Women apparently came to bathe here, hoping to enhance their fertility and dropped the coins into it.
The large reservoir at the end of the aqueduct supplied water to the bathhouse and fields as well as serving as the bathing pool. When Beit Khouri was established above the archaeological site (approximately 1880), the Ein Tzur reservoir was moved to a new pool built of stone, west of the Roman pool, and its water was pumped up the hill to the farmhouse. In 1939, a group of young Jews from the Betar youth movement founded a small ‘stockade and tower’ settlement on the hilltop east of the spring, which they named Tel Tzur Hahadasha (the New Tel Tzur). Near the Roman pool, they built an additional one of concrete, which provided the settlement’s water needs. As mentioned above, one can visit the historic Tel Tzur site on the trail marked in yellow, which exits from the area of the brook.
At major POI you can find explanation signs in Hebrew, English, and Arabic.
In front of us is the bathhouse dating from the Roman period. Its water supply came from the adjacent Ein Tzur spring, enabling the residents of the Horvat ‘Aleq site to bathe in hot water. The structure is divided into four long, consecutive rooms. From the entrance, bathers walked down seven steps to the dressing room (apodyterium). After immersing themselves in cold water, they entered the warm room (tepidarium), then moved on to the hot bath or sauna (caldarium). Note the many short columns here: they raised the floor level so that the warm air generated by the heating installation next door could circulate into space beneath the floor and heat the room.
From the bathhouse, we continued to Horvat Aleq.
Horvat Aleq Archaeological Complex
Archaeologists have discovered numerous treasures here. Strategically located next to a source of water in a fertile agricultural region, this multi-layered site was already populated by humans in the prehistoric period, more than 10,000 years ago. The settlement continued to be inhabited until the 2nd century CE, through the Iron Age and the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods. The site has been reconstructed as it was when it reached its acme in the early Hellenistic period. The remains of the original stockades and towers that surrounded it then are evident in the area. The settlement was renewed towards the end of the Ottoman era with the establishment of the village of Umm el-‘Aleq. Archaeological findings bear witness to the extended, ongoing habitation of this place and to the residents’ long lives during the different periods of settlement.
This structure is the remnant of a large farmhouse built by the El-Khouri family around 1880. It was constructed, room by room, around an internal courtyard. Most of the building stones were taken from the ancient farmhouse at Horvat ‘Aqav. Though the El-Khouris themselves were Christian, they built a mosque for their Muslim tenants, the large hall that stands out at the south side of the manor house.
In 1913, the Jewish Colonisation Association (ICA) purchased the El-Khouri farm on behalf of Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Today the farmhouse and lands surrounding it are part of the grounds of Ramat Hanadiv.
From 1919-23, three groups of Jewish pioneers settled here. Due to the difficult conditions, however, their settlement experiments did not succeed. Remains found at the manor house document the lives of the pioneers: the floor (cast in 1920) of the mosque hall, which served them as a dining room, and the charred brick oven which can still be seen in the kitchen.
The last POI (number 10) of this trail is the Ancient Quarries.
Within Ramat Hanadiv’s perimeters are many limestone quarries; they supplied building stones for the ancient settlements here and perhaps those nearby. The limestone layer that yielded the construction stones was no more than six meters deep. When miners reached the soft bedrock beneath the limestone, they left their shallow quarries behind and went elsewhere to mine. Over time, most of the quarries were buried in soil and vegetation; others turned into seasonal pools in rainy winters and served as habitats for frogs, toads, and other aquatic creatures.
From the ancient quarries, the trail leads you back to the starting point. And not let’s visit the manor trail.
The Manor Trail
On another occasion, we hiked the Manor trail (marked red).
The Cypress Grove
The cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) tree is a Mediterranean native. There are two types, and both are found in this section. The wide-branched horizontal cypress (Cupressus sempervirens horizontal) and the upright, cultivated form (Cupressus sempervirens stricta), with branches that grow close to the trunk – a familiar sight in Mediterranean landscapes and agricultural regions, where it serves as a protective windbreak.
Among the cypresses grow native Christ’s-thorn jujube (Ziziphus spina-christi), thorny trees bearing small round fruits.
Several rare species of plants have been discovered clustered in the cypress grove, including two sages (Salvia eiggii and Salvia pinnata), as well as tumble garlic (Allium schubertii) and Lachnophyllum noaeanum, a local representative of the daisy family (Asteraceae). Scientists believe that these species were able to establish themselves here during the long years when the land was cultivated with traditional tools, which ploughed only shallow furrows. When the old-fashioned methods were largely replaced by more modern, intensive agriculture – based on deep, frequent ploughing and chemical fertilizers and weed-killers – these species began to disappear from the region.
The trail leaves the cypress grove, crosses a dirt road, and enters a densely planted pine forest. The forest has been thinned out, and spiny brooms have taken the place of most of the pine trees. From here the trail turns left, traverses a dirt road and ascends, via wooden stairs and an agricultural terrace, to Horvat ‘Aqav (Station #3).
Note: if it is your first time to Ramat HaNadiv, then I would suggest taking the Spring trail since it has more points of interest.
This is the highest point of Ramat Hanadiv, 141 meters above sea level. It’s Hebrew name comes from the Arabic one, Hirbat Mansour el-‘Eqeb. In front of it is a sign with text in red, describing the site during the Second Temple period (1st century CE). The green text gives the history of the rustic manor house that was built during the Byzantine period on the remains of the earlier farmstead.
Professor Yizhar Hirshfeld directed the archaeological excavations here from 1984-87. Shards from the Persian period (5th and 3rd centuries BCE), buried beneath the farmstead’s walls, indicate that it may have served previously as a ritual site. In the late 19th century, most of the original building stones were removed and used for the construction of Beit Khouri.
The archaeological site was rehabilitated in memory of Amschel Rothschild, who died in 1996. Olive trees, figs, and grapevines – important crops throughout the land of Israel in early times – have been planted, along with Mediterranean herbs like wild marjoram (Majorana syriaca), Cretan germander (Teucrium creticum), and African rue (Ruta chalepensis).
At Horvat Aqav you can also see Mikvah, winepress, oil press, and stunning view.
For hundreds of years, the Carmel coastal plain was nothing more than a malarial swamp. Baron Edmond de Rothschild envisioned a strip of dry, cultivated land stretching from what is now Ramat Hanadiv to Hadera. He began to realize his vision in 1921 with the draining of the Kabara swamps. In the years since then, agricultural fields, banana plantations, and fish ponds have indeed taken the place of the swamps, but you can see where they once were by the gray soil in the distance. The green stripe cutting across the plain is Wadi Taninim.
From the observation point, we continued along the trail until we returned to the starting point.
Ramat HaNadiv is a lovely place to visit. There are beautiful gardens and a variety of hiking and cycling trails. Highly recommended!
Have you ever been to Ramat HaNadiv? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Sea Of Galilee.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.