At Migdal Tsedek (Migdal Afek) national park by Rosh Haayin, you can find a fortress, trails, and many other things. In 2021, after restoration, Migdal Tsedek was reopened. Let’s begin exploring!
Migdal Tsedek National Park is located to the south of Rosh Haayin. You can see it from road #444, and the entrance is from Ben Gurion Boulevard, Rosh Haayin. The easiest way to get there is by entering “Migdal Tsedek National Park” into Waze.
Interactive map of the area:
We visited Migdal Tsedek in April 2021, and here is the map that we received at the entrance.
As you can see from the map, restoration is not finished yet. And currently, you can hike at “The Fortress Way”, and cycle along the bicycle path.
While we were at Migdal Tsedek fortress, the local guide told me that all trails are expected to be open within half a year, that means by October 2021.
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 6:00 – 17:00 (16:00 during winter).
Friday: 6:00 – 16:00 (15:00 during winter).
On holidays usually 9:00 – 13:00.
Note: during the early morning hours (06:00 – 09:00), you can enter for free only by foot through Psagot Afek. Also, at those hours, you can only either hike or cycle. And if you visit after 9:00, then it similar to a regular visit to national parks. In both cases, you have to book your visit through the official site.
If you are visiting after 9:00, then the entry fee will be:
Adult 28 NIS, child 14 NIS, and student 24 NIS. And free for Matmon members.
If you are going to 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 entrance fees were updated in April 2021. In any case, recheck the official site before visiting.
The Fortress Way
We parked at the main parking during our visit to Migdal Tsedek National Park (located on the left part of the map). And then started making our way to the fortress.
Note: it is forbidden to light fire in the park.
“The Fortress Way” is an accessible path that goes uphill towards the Migdal Tsedek fortress. And as you walk on this path, you will see both the fortress and the cityscape beneath.
It took us about 10 min to reach Migdal Tsedek fortress.
To understand why there is a fortress at this spot and its strategic importance, we need to mention Via Maris.
Via Maris was an ancient trade route, dating from the early Bronze Age, linking Egypt with Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. Via Maris means “way of the sea” in Latin, and this historic road also passed through Israel. In southern Israel, it runs along the Israeli Mediterranean coast, and then it passes into the plain of Jezreel and the Jordan valley.
And if you read my blog for a while, then you are already familiar with Via Maris. Each time we visited a place that was near Via Maris, I mentioned it. Here is a partial list of sites along this route: Ashkelon National Park, Ramla, Yarkon National Park – Tel Afek (Antipatris), Tel Megiddo National Park, and Tel Hazor National Park.
And the reason this trading route passed here is marsh.
In the past, it was not possible to pass from the southern coastal plain towards the Sharon and northwards due to the marshes that had developed around the river. The ancient Via Maris that traversed the country lengthwise had to circumvent the marshes from the east, which is why the region was called the “Afek Passage.” The route went along a pass between the mountain and the sources of the Yarkon. From ancient times, this passage was a focus for human settlement, which is evidenced by the remains of a settlement at Tel Afek.
Over time, two fortresses were built on both sides of “Afek Passage.” From one side, there was Antipatris (Yarkon National Park – Tel Afek (Antipatris), and from the other Mirabel (also know as Migdal Afek and Migdal Tsedek).
Migdal Tsedek Fortress
Many remains of settlement from various periods were found in the national park area, including ancient agricultural farms from the 8th century BCE. In the days of the Second Temple, there was a Jewish settlement here called “Migdal Afek.”
During the Crusader period, a magnificent fortress was built at the top of the hill, called “Mirabel,” which means “wonder of beauty.” In the 12th century, the fortress was conquered and destroyed by the Ayyubid army under the command of Saladin.
The village of Majdal Yabaya is one of the largest villages between Samaria and the coastal plain. The village is mentioned in the 13th century as Majdal Yafa. And with the weakening of the Ottoman rule in the 18th century, the power of local Sheikh began to rise. Sheikh Zadek al-Jama’ini from Majdal Yaba renovated the remains of the Crusader fortress and turned it into a mansion.
The village continued to develop due to its geographical advantages: proximity to Jaffa and its markets, employment opportunities in nearby quarries and British army camps, proximity to the railway, and ownership of the fertile lands where orchards were planted.
With the development of Jewish settlements on the coastal plain in the early 20th century, the quarries in the area multiplied. The stone industry flourished, and during the peak period, about 35 lime kilns and stone quarries operated in the area.
During the years of Hebrew work at the site, several attempts were made to establish a “Kfar Hatzvim” where the quarry workers and their families would live and live a pioneering life.
Between 1937 and 1947, there was a labor and guard camp in Migdal Tzedek with the character of a military outpost. Yitzhak Sadeh, who became later the first commander of the Palmach, established the field companies and organized the guards’ activities in Migdal Tzedek. The guards were Jewish policemen who acted on behalf of the British police during the Arab uprising and defended settlements, factories, and roads. But in practice, they were subordinate to the Haganah organization. The guards’ activities enabled the stone industry to operate in Migdal Tsedek and helped protect Petah Tikva and the nearby Yarkon springs.
At the outbreak of the War of Independence, the security situation in the area deteriorated. It was decided to stop Jewish work at the Migdal Tzedek factories and withdraw the guard force of the defense fighters. Iraqi forces took over the quarry areas and the nearby Rosh HaAyin, the train station, and the Yarkon springs from which water was pumped to Jerusalem.
On the night of July 12, 1948, the 32nd Battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade captured the Migdal Tsedek and Rosh HaAyin in Operation Batak.
In the 1970s, the quarries were abandoned and turned into waste sites.
In 1994 the fortress was declared a “national park.” In 2005, the garden complex was expanded, and since then, extensive restoration work has been carried out there.
Source: official site
Restoration of Migdal Afek
As you can see from the following photo, the fortress is still under restoration. And for example, while we visited the second floor at the fortress was still closed.
In 2013, vandalizm took place in Migdal Tsedek (reference). As a result, Migdal Tsedek National Park was closed for restoration.
I visited Migdal Tsedek National Park in 2011. And in this section, I want to bring several photos for comparison.
Migdal Tsedek as a Viewpoint
Migdal Tsedek serves as an excellent viewpoint. And on a clear day, you can see from Hod Hasharon till Ashdod. But I was looking for something else. While visiting Antipatris (at Yarkon National Park), you can see Migdal Afek. Thus, I tried to see Antipatris from here, but I did not see it for some reason.
Here are several photos from Migdal Tsedek:
Inside Migdal Tsedek
As you enter the fort, you will see a small shop and several explanation signs in the inner court. But as you can see, big parts are still under reconstruction.
As the Ottoman government weakened in the eighteenth century, the power of local sheiks grew stronger. Sheikh Sadiq al-Jamma’ini, from Majdal Yaba, renovated the remains of the Crusader fortress and turned it into a manor house. He controlled the main road, imposing taxes on 22 villages between Lod and Tul Karm.
His rule was brief, but his architectural influence can be seen to this day. The manor house contained some 60 rooms and courtyards. The ground floor was fronted by a large courtyard with space for animals and storage, and the top floor had four apartments in which the sheik and his family lived.
Source: sign on site.
The Lintel Robbery
Conservation and restoration work began in the fortress in 1993. Original materials and ancient construction technologies were utilized as much as possible in keeping with international standards. Among other aspects of the work, the gatehouse and parts of the upper story were restored, and facades were completed. The entrances to the courtyards and the rooms once featured decorated lintels, and most were robbed during the 1970s and 1980s. In 2014, the lintels were restored and reworked according to old photographs.
Source: sign on site.
Lime Kilns and Stone Quarries
We exited the fortress using the doorways on the photo above, and the first thing that we saw was a stone quarry.
“The Stone Way” leads through lime kilns and stone quarries. But it is still closed. When I asked the local guide why there are people on this trail, he said: “Israelis.”
Every fifteen minutes, the local guide gave a short overview of this park. And after listening to him, we continued along The Fortress Way.
The Fortress Way leads around the fort. On the way, you can see the fortress and winter pools. And then it returns to the parking lot. Here are several photos from the path.
The mentioned visit took us 1.5 hours. But as they open new trails, you can make your visit longer by combining the trails. Alternatively, you can visit several times and each time chose another path.
Overall, it is a lovely park, and we enjoyed our visit. And I will definitely return once they finish with the restoration.
Have you ever been to Migdal Tsedek National Park? 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, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.