06 October 2008


The Golan Heights are a mountainous plateau in northern Israel with both strategic military and natural resource value, leading to the area being claimed by Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Controlled by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, they will likely be returned to Syria as part of the negotiations leading to a peace treaty.

Oded, Yona, and Maya took us on the tour of the region and it was indeed impressive, not only for it's physical beauty, but for it's importance in the history of countless empires and regimes. Nimrod Fortress is a good example. Built by the nephew of the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, Saladin, in the twelfth century, it was designed to defend Damascus from the crusaders. It served as one link in a chain of hill-top fortress, each visible to the other by sight, to protect Syria from the invading Europeans.

Naturally, over time, it passed from one empire to the next, serving various functions including luxury prison and, today, tourist attraction. It is relatively well preserved and features some impressive construction for its time and its remote location.

The Golan is full of interesting locations, from Alawite and Druze villages, to hidden waterfalls, and including rusting armored vehicles on the side of the road. It is a rough land, its surfaced pockmarked by centuries of battle and it maintains the sense that its status is still far from finalized.

Travels - Israel - Golan

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