13 May, 2009

Mount Arbel

Mount Arbel, originally uploaded by ! . © Angela Lobefaro . !.

© Angela M. Lobefaro

Thanks to gadihext and to his very friendly family for the fantastic hospitality!

Mount Arbel (Hebrew: הר ארבל‎, Transliteration: Har Arbel) is a mountain in The Lower Galilee near Tiberias in Israel, that has split into two after an earthquake. The other half of is Mt. Nitai. On the mountain there are four settlements: Kfar Zeitim, Arbel, Kfar Hittim, and Mitspeh. The peak, at 282 meters above sea level (481 meters above the surrounding area), dominates the entire surroundings (much of the area is below sea level) and from the lookout atop the mountain, one can see almost all of the Galilee into the Golan Heights including Safed, Tiberias and most of the Sea of Galilee.

Near the mountain remain the ruins of an ancient Jewish settlement including a Synagogue from the fourth century C.E. with extend pews and columns, and dug into the mountain itself are a number of cliff dwellings. The extant cliff dwellings are from the 17th century and were built by the Druze though there are documented Jewish cliff dwellings dating back to the Second Commonwealth in the area. Josephus writes about the Roman conquest of some of the last Hasmonean rebels who dwelt in the cliffs of Mt Arbel.

On the south side, there is a gradual prolonged climb through agricultural and pasture land while on the other, there is a very steep 400 meters drop. At the top of the steeper Northern side, there are metal handholds driven into the rock because the climb is so steep. Below that are a series of switchbacks that eventually lead to the Bedouin village of Hamaam.

In 2008, it was announced that a new golf course resort, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. would be constructed at a cost of $150 million, on land owned by Kfar Hittim on Mount Arbel. The resort which should open in 2011, will cater for between 600-900 people as well as creating 300-400 jobs.[1]

Mt. Arbel, with its 110 meters vertical drop, is the only known mountain in Israel to serve as a base jumping site.[citation needed] The hike to the top of Mount Arbel is included in the Israel National Trail.


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