Monday, 21 December 2020

Ein Kobi and the Seadim Ruins

After another month of lockdown I was anxious to go out and explore once again. This time Mister Handmade in Israel and I visited the spring at Ein Kobi and hiked down through the ravine of Nahal Kobi in the Begin Forest.
Kobi was a Jewish village in Roman times and Ein Kobi was its water source. The Arab village of Al Qabu was also located here. The 2,000 year old remains of the spring are situated in a valley with gorgeous vineyards and orchard trees. The water of the Ein Kobi spring has been used over the years by the farmers of the surrounding villages. 
The KKL-JNF (Jewish National Fund) have prepared Ein Kobi for hikers and have provided tables and benches. It is a lovely place for a picnic and for overnight camping. Sadly not that much is left of the village above ground except for one building, above, which dates back to the Ottoman period. It contains a prayer niche that faces Mecca, evidence that is was once a house of prayer. The prayer structure was built on the remains of an ancient building from the Roman-Byzantine period.
The highlight of the site is the spring, above. The spring flows into an underground arched chamber, which serves as an ancient collecting system. The purpose of the site was to store water for drinking and to transport the rest of the water to agricultural crops, through a tunnel to an external water reservoir, and from there to the ditches. Nowadays they are usually dry.
You can reach the spring by walking down a few steps to a structure, Beit Hama'ayan, which is enclosed by green railings. In its roof there is an opening that lets the light in during the day. Adventurous types can take a dip in the underground cistern or climb through the water tunnel. I considered it for a moment then decided against it! A 17 metre long shaft emerges from the underground pool.
After visiting the spring it was time for a hike. We passed the ruins of the mosque and found the red trail that leads to the ravine of Nahal Kobi. The descent through the ravine was somewhat steep, but there were numerous wooden or stone steps, making it quite easy. Towards the end we enjoyed wonderful views of the forested Valley of Rephaim, below, where the Philistines once encamped. The Tel Aviv – Jerusalem railway, originally known as the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway, uses the entire length of the Valley of the Rephaim from Jerusalem to its junction with Nahal Sorek.
Eventually we came to a gravel road, at which point we turned right onto the green trail which is signposted to Ein Kobi. The road took us back to our car parked at Ein Kobi.
Our next stop was at the Seadim Ruins, Horvat Saadim, in the Aminadav Forest. We followed a short path to the Byzantine agricultural farm house, olive press, and an ancient mosque that was built later on top of the ruins of the Byzantine buildings. 
Horvat Saadim is a very small nature reserve and the main reason for its recognition as such is the presence of the exceptionally large specimens of the Israeli common oak (Quercus calliprinos) that grow there - an unusual sight where this variety of oak is concerned. These oak trees may have attained their unusual proportions because of the nearby presence of the remnants of a maqam - a shrine dedicated to the memory of a Muslim saint - in this case Sheikh Ahmad. This is due to the belief that trees near a mosque should not be cut down due to the sanctity of the place. An impressively ancient carob tree can also be seen in the vicinity.
All that now remains of the mosque are two walls two metres high, one of which still retains an arch in its entirety. Sheikh Ahmad was renowned for his ability to induce fertility in barren women and this may be the source of the Arabic name of the site, Khirbet Sa'ida, which means "Fortunate Woman Ruins". 
Near the maqam, in open ground, stands a heavy stone column, below, that once supported the beam of an oil press. The basin stone of the press (the lower stone, in which the olives were crushed before the oil was extracted from them) was found in a nearby cave, which would appear to have been its original site.
Picnic tables have been placed at the foot of the ruins, among the pine trees. It was the perfect place to stop for a sandwich before returning home. It was good to be out exploring once again.
 

20 comments:

Tamar SB said...

what a great place to hike!

Anne said...

I'm glad you were able to get out and about again. What a beautiful place to visit. The views from your hike are amazing. #mmbc

VeggieMummy said...

How lovely to get out and about again. I'm rather envious - we have gone from Tier 1 to Tier 4 within a few weeks and Boris has cancelled Christmas - I was so looking forward to seeing my girls. :O( You have some lovely places to walk near you and all that sunshine is making me very envious! Here's to a brighter 2021! xx

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I'm glad you were out having fun. Great photos. Take care.

Kim Carberry said...

You really do visit the most interesting places and I am so glad you are able to get out again.
The views look amazing x

Michele Morin said...

So much significant history!

A Bit of the Blarney said...

Wonderful photos and scenery. It looks like a grand place to hike. Wishing you a wonderful week!

Joanne said...

You have so many lovely and interesting places to hike! #MMBC

NCSue said...

Fascinating to see history before one's eyes.
Thank you for sharing. Hope your Hannukah was full of meaning and wonderful memories.
Thanks for being a regular visitor and for sharing this week at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/12/quarantine-christmas.html

Lady Fi said...

What a lovely area!

Tom said...

...for being 2,000 years old it looks amazing. These days most things are built to last. Thanks for sharing, take care and stay healthy!

Peabea Scribbles said...

We're starting the cold of Winter here so looking at your walking trails, the weather looks so inviting. Living there has to be so interesting with all the history. Nice to see you could get out and about again. We haven't gone back into lockdown here, even though the numbers are very bad. But, we do have curfew here in Ohio. Have a great week ahead. Enjoy seeing your visits to Pictorial Tuesday.

betty-NZ said...

What an impressive bit of history you were walking on and around! I enjoy your photos of the beautiful countryside and the history of the area.

So glad you joined us at 'My Corner of the World' this week! Merry Christmas!

Crafty Green Poet said...

What an amazing place to hike, so much interesting history and such beautiful scenery

Rhonda Albom said...

I love all the history that you uncover and show from Israel. I have seen another water storage cistern in Turkey. They are interesting places.

cindy ladage said...

This history is so fascinating to me. Biblical accounts come to life through your eyes and other history bad well. Thai for sharing!

Aritha said...

Such a nice place to walk. Much warmer, I think. I like it. Think of you in the third lockdown.

We have the second now.
Stays safe and be very careful.

Rambling Woods said...

What interesting history Lisa..Yes we are in as the weather is cold alternating with snow and rain, but I hope to get out for walks. Snow would be easier than rain and mud...Michelle

Jayne said...

What a beautiful place to explore. I always enjoy your travel posts. I can't wait to get out more this year when it's safe to do so. xx

Rob + Ann said...

You always have such interesting hikes!! As a bonus, we get to learn a lot about your corner of the world when you take us along, and we appreciate that! We'd love to see what's down in the well, out of sheer curiosity. But... not sure we'd actually climb down to see for ourselves. ;)

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