Jordan Park: A Paradise for Nature Lovers
The longest river in Israel, the Jordan is significant to Jews and Christians because it was by crossing the Jordan that the Israelites returned to their homeland following 40 years traversing the desert. The Jordan River is also significant to Christians as the site where John baptized Jesus. One of the most compelling ways to enjoy this beautiful natural river on your trip to Israel is by spending a few hours at the Jordan Park nature reserve.
Jordan Park, located slightly north of Tiberias near the spot where the Jordan meets the Sea of Galilee, features marked paths, archaeological sites, baptism spots, a rafting center and picnic areas by the water.
An easy and shaded 40-minute walking route will take you to the streams of the river and its ancient water mills and flour mills. Three of these mills have been restored, so you can see how they used to function. A slightly shorter route features a pleasant stroll along the banks of the river in the shade of willow trees and through natural tunnels created by tall reeds. Or you can hike for an hour and a half along the remains of the ancient watermills.
An important Christian landmark within the park is the archaeological site of Bethsaida. Bethsaida, meaning "House of Fishing," was a prosperous fishing village in the time of Jesus. Jesus performed the miracle of the blind man who regained his sight in this town. The village was destroyed by the Romans toward the beginning of the Great Revolt, but ruins of the ancient village can still be seen. These include an ancient temple, houses, a wine cellar and the city gate.
Looking for a great picnic spot for lunch or a snack? Southwest of Bethsaida is a natural spring called Ein Mishpa. The area around the spring is shaded, and if you look carefully you can spot turtles and fish swimming in the small pool that collects the spring’s water. The spring flows in winter and summer, so this tranquil spot makes an ideal rest stop in all seasons.
From Jordan Park, you can head north toward the beautiful Golan Heights or south to the Sea of Galilee and the city of Tiberias.