Rosh Ha-Niqra
The Elephant Rock at Rosh ha-Niqra



Rosh Ha-Niqra is a 70-m high chalk cliff on cape of Galilee coast on Israeli border with Lebanon. Below the cliff are grottoes and tunnels carved out by water erosion and incessant pounding of waves against the limestone.

place

HISTORY

THE GROTTOES

GETTING THERE

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History

In ancient times Rosh Ha-Niqra was a passage point on an important route from Acre to Tyre. The place was then known as "the Ladders of Tyre", because of the steep ascent of the road when it climbed the cliff. In the Biblical book of Joshua Bin-Nun the place is mentioned as a northern border of the Israelite tribes in 14-13 centuries BCE.

In 333 Alexander the Great entered through Rosh ha-Niqra to the Land of Israel. It is believed that he has hewn a tunnel in the rock to facilitate the passage of his army from Tyre.

During the First and the Second World Wars the British army penetrated to Lebanon through Rosh ha-Niqra. Between the wars the road from Haifa to Beirut passed here, and in 1943 the British also broke a 250 m. tunnel through the rock and laid a railway line. They also established a border station and customs house on the place.

At the beginning of the War of Independence a Palmah unit demolished the railway bridge to prevent an invasion of Lebanese army to Israel. Police station and customs house were eventually taken by Lebanese army, but were evacuated after Armistice Agreement.

In 1949 the kibbutz "Kfar Rosh ha-Niqra" was founded near the base of the cliff.

After the War of Independence it became a tourist attraction, and it is now a part of a natural reserve.



The view from the top
The view from the top of Rosh ha-Niqra cliff


The Grottoes

The grottoes of Rosh ha-Niqra were formed by the sea that has eaten out portions of the soft chalk rock. They join into 200 m. of cavernous tunnels, branching in various directions. In 1968 a tunnel was dug from the shore to the grottoes (before that, only experienced swimmers could access them). The passageways to the grottoes were constructed (they are 400 m. long). The cablecar brings visitors from the top of the cliff to the tunnels. From the top of the cliff and while going down in a cablecar, one can see a marvellous view of the Mediterranean coast.

The sunlight arriving from outside and its reflections give the grottoes unique look changing during the day. The waves gain energy as they enter the narrow grottoes, and suddenly arrive from outside with a loud bang, splashing around.

The place is a part of the Achziv Natural Reserve, and its shore and sea fauna is protected. The grottoes are inhabited by bats. Huge loggerhead sea turtles live on the shore. A rare kind of walrus was detected near the shore.

In October 1998 I've seen there a tiny sea ray thrown by the waves to the shore. This was not a rare kind, but a lovely creature anyway.

Getting there

Rosh-ha-Niqra is situated at the northern end of of Israeli Mediterranean coast, 8 km. north of Naharia along Highway 4. The orange road sign points to the parking lot of the site on the left from the road.


References:
Carta's Official Guide to Israel
Encyclopedia Judaica

Related links


Rosh-ha-Niqra official page


T O P

THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE

Rosh Ha-Niqra -- Banyas -- Gamla -- Qumran -- The Western Wall

Masada -- Ein-Avdat -- Avdat -- Ramon Crater -- Eilat


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