Today Kibbutz Yehi’am (also spelled Yehiam) is known by Israeli for its meat products (sausages, salami, pastrami …) and Malka Beer. But not many know that on the ground of this Kibbutz resized an old fortress, Yehiam Fortress.
Yehiam (Kibbutz and Fortress) located in the northern part of Israel, about 8km from Nahariya. And as you probably guessed today we are going to visit Yehiam Fortress National Park (official site).
Map of the area:
At Yehiam Fortress National Park
What can you find there?
The ruins of a large and impressive fortress, combining buildings from the Crusader and Ottoman periods. The fortress also tells the heroic story of the defenders of Yehi’am during the War of Independence
Note: all quotes (unless stated otherwise) were taken from the official site.
One of the entrances to the fortress:
The map on the brochure gives a top-down view, which can be a little confusing since the fortress is a multi-level structure. So, number 2 and 5 are which are next to each other, are on different floors. Here we’re standing next to #5, the bathhouse and enjoying the view:
At this point, if look back then you’ll see the following building:
Inside this building, there is the “Mushroom Hall”:
this hall was used by the members of Kibbutz Yehi’am for growing mushrooms in the 1950s
In the Mushroom Hall, there is a room with a TV and a DVD. You can see a video that tells about the history of Yehiam Fortress. Mainly about the Israel Independence War. And it’s told by oldest members of the kibbutz, which participated in that war.
Where The Name Comes From?
And if mentioning this period, do you know why it’s called Yehiam?
Kibbutz Yehi’am was founded on November 27, 1946, by 50 members of the Zionist-socialist Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, who transformed the ruins of an Ottoman castle built on top of Crusader remains at Khirbat Jiddin into a military training camp. It was named after Yehiam Weitz, son of Zionist leader Yosef Weitz, who was killed on the “Night of the Bridges”, a Palmach operation on June 16-17, 1946.
Reception hall – a large, pillared hall with 15 piers, intended as the base for the fortress complex above it. It can be assumed that during the Ottoman period it was used as a storeroom. The first members of Kibbutz Yehi’am lived in this hall before moving to the permanent settlement.
These halls look similar to Hospitaller Fortress in Akko.
Next to #8, central Crusader tower:
It’s quite hard to see, but this is the view towards Nahariya and the sea.
From the top of the tower you get a view of both the fortress surrounding it and a wonderful panoramic view of the Western Galilee region:
The tower from another side (not far from #9):
Yehiam Fortress has different areas, which were constructed/modified at different times. This is the most recent part. At this area Israeli soldiers took a stand during the Israeli Independence War:
Main gate (#9):
The Fortress Gate – the fortress is entered through a gate from the time of Zahir al-Umar (most of the ruins that can be seen today at the fortress are from this period). The gate is protected by a strong, semicircular tower. The stones of the threshold were taken from Byzantine period buildings at the site. The gate was apparently closed by two wooden doors plated with strips of metal.
Most of the remains date from the time of the Bedouin Sheikh Daher al-Omar, who ruled the Galilee in the 1760s. He built new walls and towers, and surrounded the fortress with a moat.
How Old Is Yehiam?
Archeologists found remains of Roman fort, Byzantine monastery, burial caves and other remains.
The construction-date the Yehi’am Fortress is unknown, but it was apparently originally part of the Ma’iliyah estate, and was later sold to the Crusader Teutonic knights, who also purchased nearby Montfort Fortress.
Overall, Yehiam Fortress National Park is a nice place for a 1-3 hours visit. It’s in pretty good condition and also offers views of the surrounding area. There are also tables in this National Park, which allow visitors to have a picnic.
My tip for parents to young children is: bring a flashlight. There are some darker areas, where kids can play with flashlights and have some fun.
Have you ever visited Yehiam Fortress? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!