At the foot of Mount Hermon, north of the Golan Heights lays the Magnificent Banias National Park.
This ancient site was developed around a spring – once associated with the Greek God Pan.
The spring is also the water source of the Banias river, one of the main sources of the Jordan River.
Excavations unraveled a shrine dedicated to the mentioned Greek God along with other related deities.
Additionally, you will find there the remains of an ancient city, which were founded after the conquest of Alexander the Great and was inhabited until 1967.
The Holy Bible mentioned the city in the Gospels of Matthew this city by the name of Caesarea Philippi(not to be confused with Caesarea Maritima on the northern coast).
Alexander the Great’s conquests of the Persian Empire started a process of Hellenisation in Egypt and Syria.
Paneas was first settled in the Hellenistic period and a cult center was constructed there in the 3rd century BC by Ptolomaic Egpyt.
Later, during the Roman period, the settlement was annexed to the Roman Client Kingdom of Herod the Great.
He erected here a temple of “white marble” in honor of his patron and in 3 BC, and his son Philip II, founded a city around the area.
It quickly emerged as the administrative capital of Philip’s large tetrarchy of Batanaea which encompassed the Golan and the Hauran.
Therefore, the new city gained its new name – Caesarea Philippi which literary means Philip’s Caesarea(to distinguish it from the city of Caesarea Maritima on the Northern coast)
In the Bible
In the Gospels, Jesus is said to have approached the area of Caesarea Philippi.
Although he didn’t enter the city itself, an important event occurred in the nearby area, called the Confession of Peter(Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27).
Jesus, while in this area, asked his closest disciples who they thought he was and Saint Peter made his confession of Jesus as the Messiah.
There, Saint Peter declared Jesus as the “Son of the living God”
In the beginning, the Banias Spring originated in a large cave carved out of a sheer cliff face.
Over time, the cliff was lined in the purpose of constructing a series of shrines.
The sacred precinct, known as the temenos, included a temple which was located at the mouth of the cave, niches for statues, and ritual courtyards.
At the base of one of the niches, you can find a four-line inscription which relates to the Greek god Pan and the mountain nymph Echo.
This ancient inscription dates all the way to 87 BCE
As a result of an earthquake, the once very large spring was gushed from the limestone cave and moved to the foot of the natural terrace.
Today, the spring seeps quietly from the bedrock and the flow was greatly reduced.
After it hits the ground, the stream is become known as Nahal Hermon in Hebrew, and it flows towards what once were the malaria-infested Hula marshes.
SUN – THU & SAT: 08:00 A.M to 05:00 P.M
FRI AND HOLIDAY EVENINGS: 08:00 A.M – 4:00 P.M
SUN – THU & SAT: 08:00 A.M to 4:00 P.M
FRI AND HOLIDAY EVENINGS: 08:00 A.M – 3:00 P.M
On Rosh Hashana Eve and Passover Eve: 08:00 A.M – 1:00 P.M
On the Eve of Yom Kippur: 08:00 A.M – 1:00 P.M