Jordan Park and the Jordan River, Israel

Jordan Park extends over an area of around 1,000 dunam (approx 250 acres) to the northeast of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), adjacent to the eastern channel of the Jordan River.

Geographic location: Golan heights

Identity Card



Photo: KKL-JNF Archive


• Region:
  Northern Israel, Central Galilee and the Golan Heights

• Notable sites in the park: Water-driven flour mills, Bethsaida, Ein HaMishpa.

• Facilities: Picinic area, Marked path, Archeological site, Water, Restroom.

• Additional sites in the area: Korazim National Park, Capernaum (Kfar Nahum), Tabgha (known in Hebrew as Ein Sheva), Bethsaida Nature Reserve, Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve, Gamla Nature Reserve, the Zavitan River (Nahal Zavitan), the Yehudiya River (Nahal Yehudiya), Hexagon River (Nahal Meshushim), Katzrin Archeological Park, the Golan Antiquities Museum in Katzrin, Ateret Fortress (Metzad Ateret, adjacent to Gesher Bnot Yaakov), the Jordan River valley.

• How to get there?
Jordan Park is situated around two kilometers to the north of the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret).

From the direction of Tiberias: Drive northwest along the shore of the Kinneret (Route no. 87), cross the Jordan River by the Arik Bridge (Gesher Arik) and continue for three kilometers until you reach Bethsaida (Beit Tzeida) Junction. From here you continue northwards for another two kilometers, then turn west following the signs (Route no. 888, between kilometer markers 2 and 3).

Note: Bethsaida (Beit Tzeida) Junction can also be approached from the eastern Kinneret road (Route no. 92).

From the North: You can cross the River Jordan by the Bnot Yaakov (“Daughters of Jacob”) Bridge (Route no. 91) then continue southwards along the road that descends to Jordan Park from Beit HaMekhes (“Customhouse”) Junction (Route no. 888).

Projects and Partners Worldwide
Jordan Park was rehabilitated and developed thanks to a contribution from friends of KKL-JNF worldwide, including Canada, Germany and France.

About the Park

The riverbanks and small islands are covered with dense clumps of vegetation composed mainly of reeds and willows, which create an almost impenetrable thicket. Other characteristic riverside plants found here include the Syrian ash (Fraxinus syriaca) with its serrated leaves; oleander, which produces large pink flowers in summertime; and the holy bramble (Rubus sanctus), whose dark tasty fruit can be picked in summer. A little further away from the water’s edge we find jujube trees (Ziziphus spina-christi). This dense vegetation provides concealment for a variety of birds and waterfowl that includes herons and moorhens (Gallinula chloropus), while the waters swim with fish and Caspian turtles (Mauremys caspica).

Additional information for Visitors
Groups and individuals can camp in the park overnight.
Overnight stays should be coordinated by telephone (04-6923422) or fax (04-6923536).

Sites, Footpaths and Hiking Routes

The Watermills


Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik

In the past, at least a dozen flourmills were in operation in the area that is now the park, driven by the abundant waters of the River Jordan that flowed to the mills along four plastered channels. One of these channels has been restored, and it carries water for a distance of 600 meters to two reconstructed flourmills near the main parking area. Both are chute mills, in which the water flows down a diagonal chute to the lower floor of the structure, where it turns a large paddled waterwheel attached to an axis that rotates the upper millstone on the floor above, grinding the wheat grains into flour. Funnel mills, which were built in areas where water flow was slower, used a different technique, dropping the water down a tall funnel to provide greater power.

Bethsaida (Beit Tzeida)

In the Bethsaida Valley, in the southeastern section of the park, we come to Tel Mishpa, which in the First Temple period was the site of the town of Tzar, capital of the Kingdom of Geshur, which possessed a palace, a sturdy city wall and some impressive buildings. Geshur maintained close relations with King David, who married Maachah, daughter of King Ptolemy (Talmai) of Geshur, who gave birth to King David’s son Absalom. Because of the large quantity of silt that accumulated in this valley to the northeast of the Kinneret, secondary channels developed here to circumvent the River Jordan. Near the point where the Jordan flows into the Kinneret these channels combine into a single river mouth.


Bethsaida. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik

The name Bethsaida (Beit Tzeida) means “House of Fishing,” and in the Second Temple period, it was the site of a prosperous fishing village. Philip, the son of Herod the Great, developed the region and changed the name of the village to Julias in honor of the Roman Emperor Augustus’s daughter Julia the Elder. Three of Jesus’ disciples – Philip, Peter and his brother Andrew – were born in Bethsaida. Jesus visited the village, and in old Christian tradition, it was the site of two miracles: the miracle of the loaves and fishes and the miracle of the blind man whose sight was restored. Later Christian tradition, however, attributed the miracle of the loaves and fishes to Tabgha. 

In the early stages of the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans the town was destroyed in a local battle in which the Jewish troops were led by the historian Josephus Flavius (Yosef Ben Matityahu), and its ruins were uncovered by the American Biblical scholar Edward Robinson in the mid-19th century. Portions of the Biblical city and the fishing village have also been revealed in recent years and there is now a sign-posted footpath at the site.

Ein Mishpa

To the southwest of the foot of Tel Bethsaida is a spring, and beside it is an attractive pool from which water flows into the River Jordan.

Hiking Routes:
All routes are marked and signposted.
 
The Watermill Route


Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik

Route markings: Red
Type of route: Easy walking among the streams of the River Jordan and its ruined watermills in the pleasant shade of willow trees amidst abundant riverbank vegetation.
Time required: Around 40 minutes.
This circular route begins and ends at the watermills.

The Eden Route
Route markings: Yellow
Type of route: A pleasant stroll along the banks of the River Jordan in the shade of willow trees and through natural tunnels created by the tall reeds.
Time required: Around 30 minutes.
The route begins at the small bridge adjacent to the eucalyptus grove in the southwesterly section of the park and ends at the watermill site.

The Aqueduct Route
Route markings: Blue
Type of route: A walk along the River Jordan among the remains of ancient watermills. Note: This route is not suitable for midday walks in summer.
Time required: Around an hour and a half.
The route is circular and it begins and ends at the watermill site.