Safed is a great base to explore the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights region. The scenery is astonishing and one of the most picturesque places we’ve been during our travels. As we drove through mountains and valleys were were mesmerized by the magnificent long stretches vineyards, orchards, ranches and farmland. Unfortunately this lovely area has become heavily militarized due to past attacks from Syria and more recent conflicts with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
We visited Banias Nature Reserve where we found an impressive cascading waterfall streaming through a 3.5km long canyon. A few kilometers away took us to refreshing natural spring pools, where locals and tourists gathered dipping their feet to escape the heat. Nearby, atop a cliff side of the mountain, we discovered the remains of an ancient temple (Temple of Pan) complex built by Herod the Great during 1st century BC.
A ten minute drive up winding mountain roads, and we arrived at the magical Nimrod Castle, a medieval fortress built in 1228 to block attacks from Damascus in what is today Syria. After exchanging occupation multiple times, the fortress was destroyed by an earthquake in the 18th century. What remains today is a large complex of stone buildings and long corridors towering 815 meters above sea level, affording spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Nimrod Castle is a fun place, where we lost ourselves for an hour wandering through its secret passageways and winding staircases. There weren’t any tourists around which made our visit even more magical.
While in the region, we visited the Sea of Galilee, today known as Lake Kinneret. This sea which is fed by the Jordan River has a long historical and religious history.
It is where Jesus carried out his ministries. He supposedly performed many of his miracles around the sea, such as healing the sick and his famous “walking on water”. Mary Magdalene, one of his devout followers, lived nearby in the town Migdal. We drove the 55km roadway along the sea stopping off at various beaches and viewpoints. Today Christians from all over the world visit the Sea of Galilee to cherish its legendary holy sites as well as swim in the sea, maybe hoping to soak up some of its healing power.