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Coastal Region

Regarded as the jewel of the Mediterranean with its magnificently preserved ruins, Caesarea boasts a rich history and stunning natural setting. Originally a small Phoenician port called Straton’s Tower, the city was propelled to the center of global trade by King Herod. In the year 22 BCE, he built the second largest harbor in the Ancient World, complete with a theater, hippodrome, royal palace, market places, bath houses, and pagan temples.

Every five years, the city hosted lavish sporting competitions, reminiscent of the Olympic Games and gladiator contests. After Herod’s death, Caesarea served as the capital of the Province of Judea as Rome assumed full control over the country. Tensions between Jews and Pagans ran high, and it was in Caesarea that the Great Revolt broke out in 66 C.E., leading to the eventual destruction of the Second Temple.

Caesarea flourished during the Byzantine period and later served as a strategic fortress for the Crusaders. Following the Mameluk conquest in the 13th century, the city fell into ruin and was eventually covered over by sand. The well-known philanthropist, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, was instrumental in reestablishing the city over a hundred years ago and making it into a modern thriving town.

Atlit

Atlit is a small town just south of Haifa that served as a Crusader outpost in the 13th century. After its destruction by the Mamelukes in 1291, it fell from prominence and for centuries was no more than a small village. While the Nazi menace loomed in Europe the British severely curtailed Jewish immigration to Palestine due to Arab pressure. This discriminatory policy continued from 1936 until 1948 and effectively sentenced tens of thousands to their deaths during the Holocaust. After the war, the gates to Palestine remained firmly closed and survivors of the camps were denied entry. Thousands chose to immigrate illegally to Palestine by land, air and especially by sea, and those who were caught were interred by the British. The detention center in Atlit housed thousands of prisoners and was the scene of a daring break out on October 10, 1945, led by Yitzchak Rabin. A tour of the site today includes the barracks, a moving audio-visual, processing center, and a mikveh constructed for inmates.

Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel (li. “G-d’s Vineyard) is a stunning mountain range in the north of Israel extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the south east. During Biblical times, Elijah confronted the false ”prophets” of the pagan god, Ba’al atop the mountain in a dramatic showdown leading the Israelites to proclaim the existence of one G-d.

Mount Carmel is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and today the protected environment serves as nurturing ground for a handful of animals facing extinction. The city of Haifa is situated on the north-west slopes of the mountain and the Druze villages of Dalyat el-Carmel and Issufia are located along the center of the range.

Rosh Hanikra

Known by the Sages as the “Ladder of Tyre,” the towering white cliffs of Rosh HaNikra lie on the Northwestern tip of Israel. Over the ages, the pounding waves of the Mediterranean Sea have created a series of stunning grottoes where the azure waters meet the bone-white rock. Since time immemorial, Rosh Hanikra has served as the passage point for traders & merchants, soldiers & mercenaries making their way between Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. In 1946, the Haganah carried out a daring series of maneuvers to bring transportation in and out of Palestine to a halt by destroying all bridges linking the country to the outside world. The bridge at Rosh Hanikra was destroyed, with no injuries or loss of life.

Zichron Yaakov

Zichron Yaakov was established by religious pioneers from Romania in 1882 as an agricultural settlement, marking the beginning of the modern Zionist era. Though filled with religious fervor and lofty ideals, the inhabitants were unprepared for a life of farming amid difficult conditions and were unable to support themselves financially.

In 1883, the scion of the a wealthy banking family, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, came to their rescue taking the settlement under his wing and naming it after his father Jacob (Zichron Yaakov means literally “in memory of Jacob”).

The Baron did not content himself with doling out cash, but built houses for the residents, planted vineyards, and set up the Carmel Winery which continues to produce wine today.

The Baron and his wife are buried just outside the town, marked today by a spectacular botanical garden has been planted in their honor.