Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Yehi'am Fortress

Back in July Mister Handmade in Israel and I visited the Yehi'am Fortress National Park as part of our mini-break whilst the boys were at camp. I haven't yet blogged about it - better late than never!
The Yehi'am Fortress is located in the western Upper Galilee on the grounds of Kibbutz Yehi'am. The fortress is based on the Crusader-time Iudyn Castle, built by the Teutonic Order after 1220. Domes, walls and crenellations have survived in the fortress from those times. It was destroyed by the Mamluk sultan Baibars sometime between 1268 and 1271. The Mamluks and the Ottomans did not see fit to maintain the place and the fortress was then abandoned for some 500 years. It was then rebuilt and expanded as Qal'at Jiddin (Jiddin Castle) in the 1760's by the Bedouin ruler Zahir al-Umar, who was known as the Governor of the Galilee. A moat around the fortress was added at this time. It was destroyed again by Ahmed Jezzar Pasha around 1775. The ruined fortress, known as Khirbat Jiddin (literally "ruins of Jiddin"), was later inhabited by Bedouin tribes. In 1946 Kibbutz Yehi'am was established at the site of the fortress, the founders of the kibbutz initially living in tents among the ruins. The massive walls protected them when they were under siege during the 1948 War of Independence.
Most of the remains that can be seen at Yehi'am today - including walls, towers and the moat - were built in the 18th century by the Bedouin ruler Zahir al-Umar, though it was interesting to note the different building styles of different eras within the remains - the original Crusader structure of massive polished stone, followed by the Muslim style using smaller and poorer quality stone. The remaining buildings include a watch tower with a lookout platform, a mosque built during the period of Muslim rule, a modest bathhouse and a large vaulted hall. It is assumed that during the Ottoman period this was used as a storeroom. The first members of Kibbutz Yehi'am lived in this hall before moving to the permanent settlement. The 1948 trenches laid around the castle can also be visited. They have been restored and now tell the story of the battle which waged there.
Archaeological finds in the national park include the remains of a Roman fort, a Byzantine farm or monastery, burial caves, stones inscribed with crosses and fragments of mosaic. On top of all that, the panoramic views of Western Galilee at the top of the fortress are simply breathtaking. On a clear day you can see the northernmost coastal city in Israel, Nahariya, and the sea.
On 27th November 1946 Hashomer Hatzair groups (a Socialist-Zionist secular Jewish youth movement founded in 1913 in Galicia, Austria-Hungary) went up to the ancient fortress and settled in its gloomy halls. They called their new post Yehi'am in honour of Yehiam Weitz, son of Jewish Agency official Joseph Weitz, who had been killed in a Palmach operation that same year. According to the United Nations partition plan, the area including Kibbutz Yehi'am was not part of the Jewish state. After the declaration of the state on 14th May 1948 the kibbutz was attacked by Arab fighters. The kibbutzniks barricaded themselves between the walls of the fortress and, together with soldiers from the Haganah Field Corps who came to their assistance, overcame a two-month siege which became one of the greatest dramas of the War of Independence.
After the war, new houses were built at the kibbutz, including the first children's house. Hashomer Hatzair groups joined from different parts of Israel, as well as groups from Cuba, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia. The kibbutz was privatized in 2001.
In 2008 the boutique brewery Malka Beer was established in Kibbutz Yehi'am, at the foot of the fortress. The water used to brew Malka beers comes from the Ga'aton Stream adjacent to the kibbutz. I am by no means an expert on beer but we stopped by the brewery after visiting the Yehi'am Fortress. It was a hot summer's day and a cold beer was a delicious and refreshing way to end an interesting visit. Exploring the fortress had been a fascinating experience and the views from the top - and a Malka Pale Ale - made it all the more worth the trip.

11 comments:

Jedidja said...

Thank you so much for this post. My husband is a civil engineer and he likes such things as architectural styles :-) But so old ... I have never seen it. Thank you for sharing. I think the Malka Ale Pale beer is good. But I prefer Caramel Coffee on hot days.

TexWisGirl said...

amazing old structure. so much war, always.

Jarek said...

What a beautiful place to explore! Great photos, too

Marleen said...

A fortress with an impressive history. Lovely photos!

NC Sue said...

Amazing to see this history preserved over time. Thank you so much for sharing the history and these photos at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-man-in-moon.html

Miss Val's Creations said...

The ruins are amazing Lisa! What a stunning view too. I always love trying the local beer somewhere when it is available.

Molly said...

What an amazing piece of history

Mollyxx

Denise inVA said...

I enjoyed learning about this place and its history. Thank you so much. Your photos are wonderful!

Lisa Kerner said...

This was a fun post to read. I haven't visited this area before so I love reading about it. Thank you for linking to Life Thru the Lens, I look forward to visiting here more often.

Lisa @ LTTL

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Beautiful stone - these arches were made to last!

bettyl-NZ said...

Places like these totally amaze me that they are still looking like they did centuries ago! Thanks for the information about the area, too.

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