Mount Arbel – Hamaam, Israel - Atlas Obscura

Hamaam, Israel

Mount Arbel

An iconic view point of the Sea of Galilee offers a look into Israel's past. 

Mount Arbel’s height is only 180 meters but is one of the most famous mountains in Israel. It rises very steeply, 380 meters from the Sea of Galilee and is considered by many the best view-point around the lake.

From the summit, there is an amazing vista that includes most of the Galilee mountains, the Golan Heights and famous landmarks like Tiberias, Safed and the Horns of Hattin.

But it’s not only the views. The mountain has a very long human history. In the northern cliffs, the Arbel fortress is built into the mountain. The fortification that is carved into the rocks were built by the Galilean Jews, who barricaded themselves at Arbel in 37 BCE. The Roman commander, Herod was sent to suppress the rebellion. His army overcame the rebels only after he had the best of his warriors lowered to the caves in cages suspended by ropes, from which the rebels became convenient targets.

About two kilometers west of the summit, you can find the beautiful ruins of an ancient synagogue that dates to the 4th century. It was built from large limestone blocks in the center of the ancient Arbel village. The synagogue is believed to have been used continuously until the 8th century.

Two kilometers west rising from the plane is the “Horns of Hattin,” an extinct volcano with twin peaks overlooking the Arbel summit. The spot is believed to be the site of the Battle of Hattin, between the Crusader of the Levant and the forces of Sultan Salah ad-Din, which took place in July 1187. 

Know Before You Go

A very popular hiking trail climbs from the Sea of Galilee to the Arbel Summit via the fortress and descends back via the ancient synagogue.

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