By Hadassah Levy
- The Golan Heights with Mount Hermon in the background (photo from goisrael.com)
The Golan Heights is a treasure trove of forests, mountains, streams, waterfalls and wildlife. It’s also rich in history, archaeology and culture, with attractions and activities for just about everyone. It’s recommended to start your tour of the Golan with a visit to Katzrin, the largest Jewish town in the region, in order to get an overview of everything you need to know about the region.
1. The Golan Magic Experience
A great way to get an overview of the Golan is to visit the Golan Magic Experience. A multimedia presentation on a 180 degree screen shows you the beauty and tells you the story of the Golan Heights. The special effects allow you to feel the drip of water from local waterfalls, smell the flowers and trees which grow in the area and feel the wind in your hair as you soar above the Golan’s fields.
The Golan Magic Experience is also a great place to stop for lunch. The dairy café and restaurant utilizes local fresh produce to create delicious dishes. You can also buy locally produced products, such as wine, olive oil, honey and even cosmetics.
2. The Golan Archaeological Museum
- Golan Archaeological Museum (photo by Ori~)
During the Roman occupation of the land of Israel, the Golan was densely settled and home to a number of beautiful synagogues. Remnants from these synagogues and other archaeological artifacts are on display in the Golan Archaeological Museum. This small museum also features an audiovisual presentation, a model of ancient Katzrin and artifacts from Byzantine Christian churches and villages.
3. The Talmudic Village of Katzrin
- Entrance to ancient Talmudic-era synagogue, Katzrin, Golan Heights (photo by gilabrand)
Continue your journey through history with a visit to the Talmudic Village of Katzrin. This reconstructed village recreates daily life in the first centuries of the Common Era. Some of the farm implements are real artifacts found in excavations, whereas others are reconstructions. One of the highlights of the village is the two story home. Kids and adults will enjoy climbing up the ladder to explore the second floor and see how families lived in ancient times. The ancient synagogue in the village is also quite impressive. Bar and bat mitzvahs are sometimes held in it. At other times, it serves as an excellent spot for introspection or prayer. Arrangements can be made for bread baking, olive pressing and pottery making workshops.
4. The Golan Heights Winery
- The Golan Heights Winery (photo by Ori~)
The Golan Winery continues the ancient tradition of wine-making in the land of Israel. Tours of the winery take you through the process of planting the vineyards, storing the grapes in barrels and producing high quality wines sold internationally. The tour ends with an interactive wine tasting, which broadens your knowledge of wines in general and gives you a taste of the winery’s labels. Don’t worry if you have kids along for the ride; the winery provides them with grape juice to drink and pretzels to munch on.
From Katzrin, you can travel deeper into the Golan to explore archaeological sites, challenge yourself with adventurous hikes or drive to easily accessible but breathtaking pools and forests.
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