This is where the place called Ayalon was situated, a city in the domain of the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:42), which lent its name to the entire valley. Near the hill there are several springs called the Ayalon Springs. The large one is called Bir El-Jabar, which is inside an ancient stone structure south of the fortress. At Tel Ayalon you can see remains of the Castellum Arnoldi crusader fortress, which was built in the early 12th century as part of a defense system for the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and dominates the northern part of the Ayalon Valley. The noticeable remains in the area are segments of the western and southern walls.
Date Palm Spring
Also known as Ein Nini, is a spring that flows from an opening whose walls are tiled with stones. It flows all year. The opening is part of an ancient irrigation system, apparently from the Byzantine period. These days the spring water flows in a short aqueduct that used to conduct the water to a storage pool. Below the spring is a park that was developed by KKL-JNF with spacious lawns and picnic tables, and it has become a favorite spot for visitors.
Scenic Lookout Hill
is an observation point not far from the entrance to Ayalon Canada Park. Near it there are ancient winepresses carved in the rock, where grapes were pressed to make the grape juice that was fermented into wine.
These are ruins on the top of a steep hill, with remains of a fortress, apparently form the Hasmonean period, and a secret tunnel about 25 meters long that ends at a cistern. The method according to which the tunnel was carved matches the style of tunnels attributed to the Bar Kochba period. This is an easy trail that branches off the road about 50 meters before the big bend and leads to the crest of the hill. Alongside the trail you can see ancient agricultural implements carved in the rocks.
Jordanian Burma Road
is a roadway that was paved by the Jordanian Legion during the War of Independence, from Emmaus to the village of Yalo, and from there to the villages of Beit Nuba and Beit Likia. The road proceeds from the sharp bend at the top of the Springs Valley. The purpose of the road was to bypass the IDF wedge in the El-Burj hills, which cut off the main road from Latrun to Ramallah.
Hill 312 and Sheikh Ibn Jabal
The tomb of Sheikh Ibn Jabal commemorates the legendary character of the Muslim warrior Ibn Jabal, who perished, according to tradition, in an epidemic that plagued Muslim forces in Emmaus in 639 CE. An inscription found above the doorway to the tomb attests that the building was erected in 1288 CE by the Mamluk ruler of the Jerusalem stronghold. From the tomb there is an amazing view of the Ayalon Valley, Latrun and the coastal plain from Netanya to Ashdod.
is outside the area of the park, but it is very close by and worth visiting. At the foot of a large white stone building, the Beth Shalom hostel, there are remnants from a large church from the Byzantine period (5th century CE). The church was built on top of the ruins of a Roman villa from the 2nd century CE, but most of the visible ruins were built much later by the crusaders in the 12th century.
Olive Tree Recreation Area and Emmaus Antiquities
To the west of Highway 3, near an olive grove, KKL-JNF developed the Olive Tree Recreation Area. Nearby, on both sides of the road, are the antiquities of Emmaus, the Greek name for the city of Hamat on the border of Judea. The name of the city is derived from a hot spring, which does not flow nowadays. It is quite likely that the Roman Bathhouse utilized the water from this spring. Emmaus was a symbol for a place of pleasure.
About Emmaus it was said, “Emmaus, a source of beautiful water and a beautiful garden” (Kohelet Rabba 7:15). Since the 3rd century, the city was called Nicopolis (the city of Nico, the goddess of victory). The water system of the city, some of which has been preserved in Ayalon Canada Park, made the city famous far and wide. Most of the impressive antiquities are not near the Olive Tree Recreation Area but are in the section of the park on the eastern side of the highway.
The Roman Bathhouse
is next to the Emmaus Church, just a little outside the park borders, in the cemetery of the city of Emmaus. The Arabic name of the place is Sheikh Ubeid, who according to Arabic tradition was the main commander of the Muslim army that died in the 7th century in the
Emmaus plague. Major sections of the bathhouse, which had four chambers, have remained intact. A conduit conducted the spring water to the bathhouse, and this seems to be the hot bathhouse of Emmaus described in Jewish sources.
One and a half kilometers north of Shaar Hagai there is a road that branches off, marked in red, which goes east to the milestone site. It is worth parking the car next to the Israel Electric Company station, since from here on the road is suitable for a four wheel drive. After walking for a few minutes, you will get to the milestones that mark the ancient route that went from Emmaus in the Ayalon Valley to Jerusalem.
An inscription that was found on one of the stones mentions the Emperor Maximinus, who reigned from 235 to 238 CE. Farther on, about 1.5 kilometers away, is the Matzad ruin, from which there is a panoramic view of the Ayalon Valley and the ascent from Shaar Hagai. After returning to the car you can proceed to the Bir Ayub and Einot Ayalon recreation areas.