At Haniya Spring, you can find two pools from the Byzantine period and a nymphaeum from the Roman period.
Table of Contents
Haniya Spring national park is located near Israel Aquarium and close to Jerusalem. And the easiest way to reach it is by entering “Haniya Spring” into Waze.
Note: You will pass through a block post to reach this national park.
There is free parking near the entrance. If there are available parking spots along the main road, you can park there. You can turn north to the dirt road parking lot at the roundabout if there are no places along the lane.
The dirt road parking is situated under the pools, but the entrance is located about 100 meters to the east. Thus if you find parking along the road to the east of the roundabout, park there.
Map of the area:
And here is a map of this area:
Note: you can click on the image of the map to enlarge it.
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 8:00 – 17:00 (16:00 in winter).
Friday: 8:00 – 16:00 (15:00 in winter).
On holidays eves usually 8:00 – 13:00.
Note: since the pandemic, Israel Nature and Parks Authority has started to limit the number of people in each park. Thus, reservations are recommended through the official site (you can find the link below).
Note: during our visit (August 2022), we had to book a two-hour window (10:00 – 12:00). The SMS I received asked us to leave by noon.
Adult 14 NIS, child 7 NIS, and students 12 NIS. Free for National Parks annual subscribers.
If you visit several National Parks, then consider purchasing a combo ticket. You can find additional info at National Parks And Nature Reserves.
Note: opening hours and ticket prices were updated in August 2022. In any case, recheck the official site before visiting.
Rules at Haniya Spring
Here are some of the rules from the photo above:
- Dogs are prohibited.
- Glass bottles, alcoholic beverages, and sharp tools are prohibited.
- Fires are prohibited, including campfires and barbeques.
At Haniya Spring
When you enter Haniya spring, you will see signs for pools (turn right) and restrooms (continue straight).
Not all buildings were reconstructed.
When you reach the pool area, you will see the nymphaeum. The lower pool is located to the right, and the upper pool is behind the fountain.
A spring, alongside which are the remains of a church and two pools for irrigation. The spring is within the Rephaim Stream Park, which is part of Jerusalem Park. The church was partly excavated in 1934. In 2012 the site was excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the area between the cave where the spring emerges and the arched structure underwent conservation.
The system channeling water from the source of the spring in the cave to the arched structure is modern. Its construction destroyed the ancient remains.
A few finds uncovered here show that the remains of the church date from the Byzantine period.
According to the tradition of the Ethiopian Church, this is the spring of the Apostle Philip, in which the first Ethiopian was baptized into Christianity:
“Now an angel of the Loyd spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning… Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’… And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:26-38).
The remains of the church and the spring belong to the Armenian Patriarchate.
The water of the upper pool drained through a network of channels to a wall about 2.5 meters high, the center of which was semi-circular. In the middle of the wall, a beautiful recess was built, in which a statue may have stood in the Roman period. At the top of each side of the nymphaeon’s façade is a relief in the form of a Corinthian column. The spring water flows under the recess, through an opening in the wall, and passes to the lower pool.
This type of structure is called a nymphaeum. In ancient times the Greeks and Romans believed that nymphs – mythical creatures whose bodies were half-divine and half-human female – lived near springs. These sites were considered sacred. Over time built fountains were added to the springs. Later the nymphaeons became secular structures that adorned public buildings and wealthy homes.
During the Byzantine period, the nymphaeum was incorporated into the complex structures at the site. It is possible that the nymphaeum and the upper pool served the church, whose remains were discovered in the 1930s east of the upper pool (the remains of the church can no longer be seen).
The nymphaeum was restored according to historical photos and drawings that show it in its complete state.
Source: official website
The Spring and the Pools
Let’s start our visit to the lower pool. It is also called the storage pool.
The Lower Pool
The storage pool – At the foot of the nymphaeum is an impressive pool from the Byzantine period (8×10 meters), one of the largest irrigation pools in the Jerusalem Mountains. This pool, which is about 2 m deep, was built in the center of a large complex at the foot of a church. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority maintain the depth of the pool at 1.3 m, allowing visitors to take a dip.
Source: official website
According to the sign, the water depth is about 1.2 meters. Jumping into water is prohibited. Also, surfaces are slippery.
The spring and the Upper pool
The spring emerges from short, rock-cut tunnels. The water flows through a short aqueduct, and it passes over an arch near the pool. From there, it descends to a built channel on the edge of the pool. During the Byzantine period (fourth–seventh centuries), the water flowed from the channel to lead pipes that opened into the wall of the pool as fountains. Remains of the lead pipes are visible in the wall of the pool.
West of the pool remains can be seen of a structure, apparently a dwelling. On the eastern side of the pool, a row of column bases is visible. It is therefore possible that the pool was used as a decorative element or perhaps for bathing. It may also have been used for religious ceremonies. In the walls of the pool, near the bottom, round recesses can be seen where fish may have been raised.
The pool is now a wading pool. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority keep the water level low enough for children to wade. Athletically inclined visitors can crawl through the underground tunnel for about 9 m between the spring and the pool.
Before Passover, some people draw water from the pool to prepare the special holiday matza called matza shmura.
Source: official website
Behind the upper pool (to the right in the next photo), you can find the spring.
Children above the age of six can enter the spring. It is a dark tunnel. Length: 9.5 meters; height: 1.3 meters; width: 55 centimeters; water depth: 10 centimeters.
- There are no changing rooms in the park. Thus bring big towels.
- The pools are not large. Favor visiting early as possible or later in the day.
- There are many bees by the water. And one bee even stung my wife. Take insect repellant with you.
- The lower pool was deeper (about chest level) than the upper pool (about waist level). Also, the water at the lower pool was colder. Thus my youngest daughter (she was almost three years old during our visit) preferred the upper pool.
- The floor in both pools was very slippery. Take water shoes with good traction.
- There is little shade in the park. Use sunscreen.
- Both pools are under the sun. Thus a lot of greenery grew inside, and the water in the upper pool was green. As a result, under the swimsuits, we had vegetation. You can take clean water to wash it off.
History and Archaeology
Settlement in the area of the Haniya Spring seems to have begun during the First Temple period or even earlier. The most prominent finding from this period is a fragment of column capital of the proto-Ionic type, an artistic style typical of buildings and estates of First Temple-era kings (a capital of this type, found at Megiddo, appears on Israel’s 5-shekel coin). Similar capitals were also discovered at Jiziya Spring, not far from the national park, at the City of David in Jerusalem, at Hazor, Samaria (Sebastia), and Ramat Rachel, one of the palaces of the kings of Judah was found. It is therefore possible that there was a royal estate at Haniya Spring during the First Temple period.
After the destruction of the First Temple, Jews renewed settlement at the site in the form of a manor house. A rare silver coin from that time was found at Haniya Spring – a drachm minted in Ashdod during Greek rule, between 420 and 390 BCE. This is one of the earliest coins discovered in the Jerusalem area.
The site reached its zenith during the Byzantine period (fourth–sixth centuries CE), as attested by the coins, pottery and glass vessels, roof tiles, and colorful mosaic tesserae found at the site in excavations. It is possible that in this period, Haniya Spring was already identified as Phillip’s Spring, the place of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.
According to this tradition, the apostle Phillip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, who was in charge of the treasury of Queen Candace of Ethiopia (Acts 8:26–40). Phillip, directed by an angel, went down the road leading from Jerusalem to Gaza. On the way, he encountered the Ethiopian, who was reading from the book of Isaiah. After a discussion, the pair reached the spring, where Phillip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch.
The baptism of the eunuch was a key event in the spread of Christianity and a common motif in Christian art. The identification of the site where it happened has thus been a focus of Christian scholars for generations. In our time, the Armenian Church (which owns the property) and the Ethiopian Church hold religious ceremonies at the site. Muslims, Jews, and Christians respect the site’s sanctity. In November 2010, when the winter rains failed to appear, representatives of the three faiths gathered at Haniya Spring for a joint prayer for rain.
Source: official website
Haniya Spring is a lovely national park but has drawbacks (see the tips section above). Moreover, if you are limited to two hours (not sure it is a good idea to spend more under the sun), you can combine your visit with the nearby Israel Aquarium, Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, or Ein Yael.
This area has many attractions, and you can explore them using the interactive map above.
Have you visited Haniya Spring National Park? Tell us in the comment below about your experience.
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, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.