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August 21, 2012August 21, 2012  0 comments  History

One of the hidden gems in Israel's north, which has recently undergone a major renovation, is Ramat Hanadiv. It is, in ,a botanical garden about 20 minutes from Haifa and about half an hour from Nazareth. However, it's so much more than that - it's also a tribute to Baron Rothschild, who helped to shape the successful return of the Jews to Zion.

Setting the Scene

Before we talk about Ramat Hanadiv, it's important to know just who is buried there and why they were so important. Interred in a special mausoleum at the site are Baron Edmund de Rothschild and his wife. The two of them were Jewish philanthropists in the 19th century who helped to found numerous towns and cities throughout Israel, including Petach Tikvah (which means the gateway of hope) and Rishon Letzion (the "First" of Zion).

 

Baron Rothschild is something of a mythical figure in Israel. At a young age, he devoted his life to bringing the Jewish people home and to helping them make a living working the land. He was instrumental in building the Carmel Winery in Israel (the full name was Carmel Mizrachi, meaning Carmel East, since the family owned a winery in Europe called Carmel as well).

 

He arranged to get cuttings of French varieties of grapes sent directly to the Holy Land (a feat almost unheard of before or since - in most cases, they were smuggled out, but Baron Rothschild had enough influence to do it legally) and when the new winery was on its feet, he gave it away to the people who worked there as a gift.

A Fitting Tribute

Ramat Hanadiv, meaning "the hill of the benefactor," was created as a tribute by the early settlers in the Holy Land. It is the eternal resting place of the Baron and his wife, who devoted so much to the Land. However, more than that, it is also one of the most beautiful places in all of Northern Israel. The graves are surrounded by several acres of carefully manicured botanical gardens, showing the variety of different kinds of plants that the Baron dreamed would one day grow in the Holy Land.

The Herb Garden - a Special Treat

One of the most interesting places to see here is the herb garden. It was created specifically for those who are blind, so that they could also enjoy the beauty of this place. The garden includes several dozen varieties of herbs, all with wonderful scents. The idea is that you walk through and rub your fingers over the leaves of the various herbs and then smell your fingers. It is a sensory delight both for the sighted and for the visually impaired.

Flower Beds Galore

There are also gardens including a number of varieties of flowers which are both native to Israel as well as others which are imported. They tend to bloom during the spring and summer months, so it's best to see these places during that time. The area is also home to a number of varieties of trees, including some fairly unusual specimens (see the photos I took to get an idea of what they are. And if any readers happen to know the name of the varieties, please let me know).

Across the Way, a Nature Hike

On the other side of the parking lot from the garden is a wild area where you can hike through a fairly easy trail to see nature at its finest. The walk is very scenic, but what is more exciting is getting to the end of the trail and seeing the ruins of a Byzantine era mansion and church and the positively breathtaking view of Northern Israel.

Getting There

Getting to Ramat Hanadiv is relatively easy. You can follow road 4 from Haifa to the Binyamina interchange (road 653) and then follow the signs from there (more details directions are available at the website). Or you can take the train to Binyamina and from there take a bus (# 872, 202 or 70). The park is open Sunday-Thursday from 8AM-4PM, Fridays 8AM-2PM and Saturdays 8AM-4PM (though the mausoleum is closed on Saturday).

 

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Eric Hammer writes regularly for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


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