To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)
Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture
Israel IV: Caesarea and Haifa
Israel V: Acre (Akko)
Israel VI: The Sea of Galilee
Off we go, leaving Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee behind as we head north into Golan Heights (A to B on the map). Our next destination was Mt. Bental, right on the edge of the UNDOF Zone in Golan Heights. Golan Heights is where Syria, Lebanon and Jordan meet Israel and has been occupied by Israel since the Six Day War in 1967 (a CIA map shows that It’s Syria, but occupied by Israel). Lets just say it’s a peaceful place but also very much an active military zone, where you don’t want to wander off the road (land mines). I was very excited to see this section of Israel, not just because of the history, but because it’s an area known for it’s wine and chocolate. Plus it’s the closest I’ve been to an active military zone, and I felt like I needed to see it.
I was in the front passenger seat, so I was able to take some fun landscape shots from the road.
You can see above that there are remnants of war still left behind, as well as the military academy actively training in those spaces. While on this drive we had a white UN vehicle who was behind us most of the way, headed to the United Nations zone that separates Syria and Israel to keep the peace.
This horse was just after we missed the road to go up Mt. Bental. Which by the way, you don’t want to get lost in this area, not due to fear (as it’s not scary, the photos are proof of this) but because you really are right on the border of the UN zone which keeps Israel and Syria from attacking each other. As my sister put it “How adventurous are we feeling today?”
I loved visiting Golan Heights and the views from Mt. Bental (above) are amazing. There’s a great sandwich shop at the top of the mountain, as well as old war bunkers from the Six Day War and incredible views.
Here’s the view across to Syria. You can see the white buildings on the left are UN buildings.
There are also large creative metal sculptures around the top of the mountain.
We went down into the maze of bunkers underground in the mountain. We were following a family who had a tour guide, so it was handy listening into the history he was explaining. There isn’t much up here explaining the history (at least not in English).
It’s wild to think this was once used by military personal to view Syria during war.
This is in the bunker, with a narrow opening to see (and my guess- shoot) at Syria.
After our meal and exploring the mountain, we had to retrace our steps south west to visit Nazareth. On our way back through Golan, we saw more and more ruins from a war that was only 60 years ago.
Everywhere we went in Golan Heights, there were “tank crossing” signs, and military personnel passing us. On our way back south, we decided to stop and take pictures of these tanks near the side of the road. We thought the were inactive old tanks, so we thought it would be okay to see them closer. Just to the left of this photo, in a lower ditch where several soldiers with large guns. This was a reminder that even though it’s calm and quiet, we were still very much in an active military zone. These are not old tanks, but new tanks that are ready to go.
We exited Golan Heights behind a large truck with a tank on it. I highly recommend visiting Golan Heights. The history and beautifully unique landscape made this place one of my favorite sites along the entire trip. But alas, we were behind schedule and still had to visit Nazareth and travel into Jerusalem by 6pm (to return the car). On we went! Next up: Nazareth!