Ein Hemed – Aqua Bella
The Aqua Bella – Ein Hemed National Park, run by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, is located on the path of an old Roman road, which was still in use after the Crusader period. This piece of paradise is just about a ten-minute drive from Jerusalem. The road connected the coastal plain with the Jerusalem Hills. During the Roman times, the springs were known as “Aqua Bella” — which means “beautiful water” or “Ein Hemed” in Hebrew (literally, “pleasant spring”).
In the Ein Hemed park, four springs issue from the riverbed and nearby caves, and unite into a flow of water, which continues for about 400 meters. Several dams have been built, creating shallow pools. The Nature and Parks Authority has installed picnic tables, toilets, and faucets. As a result, this is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day – or after lunch in Abu Gosh.
The Crusaders set up farms at Ein Hemed using the spring water for irrigation. Impressive ruins of a 30 x 40 meter Crusader structure, the southern wall of which survives to a height of 12 meters, are located on the north site of the riverbed. The building has several gates and two arched halls.
The inhabitants of the region attributed magical powers to the spring waters – virility, and ensuring the birth of a male child. In the past, Jews used the spring water as an ingredient for baking matza shmura (very very kosher unleavened bread for Passover).
Today, Jews from Jerusalem still come to Ein Hemed to perform the tashlich ceremony (a symbolic casting of sins into the water) before Yom Kippur.
This beautiful national park has many shady spots to relax and have an afternoon mangal (barbecue). It also has a playground for toddlers and is accessible by wheelchair or stroller.
There are festivals held in Ein Hemed each year, including a circus festival during Succot, a children’s fairytale festival during Pesach and a Shavuot festival. These festivals offer engaging and enriching activities as well as fun shows for the children.
While Ein Hemed may not be so much as a place for serious hikers, it is otherwise a great place to spend a relaxing morning, just leisurely walking around, feel the cool waters on your feet, and basking in the park’s natural beauty.
What you need to know before going to Ein Hemed
- It is great for kids.
- Parts of the path are accessible by wheelchair and stroller.
- You can also take your pet dogs there.
- There are amenities and facilities.
- Since it’s a national park, you have to pay an entrance fee or show your parks card to enter.
- You can see signs along parts of the stream that prohibit entry.
- For foreign visitors, get a trail map in English at the beginning to read and learn about the history of Ein Hemed.
- You may not want to follow the official trail. Instead, wander along the pathways, where you can get past crowds and find quieter spots. No need for a trail map!
For more details – see Ein Hemed National Park
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