‘My kids loved running around Kochav HaYarden castle at 2, 5, 7.’
‘A Crusader fortress overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Mountains of Gilead.
Belvoir National Park is located on the eastern Issachar Plateau at the edge of a steep slope above the Jordan Valley. Its spectacular panorama gave the fortress its name-belvoir means ‘beautiful view.’
The Crusaders built the fortress in around 1140, during the reign of Fulk d’Anjou (1131-1142). In 1168, the Hospitaller Knights bought the land and made it into one of the most important fortresses in the country, overlooking the Jordan Valley and the road from the Tabor Stream to the coastal plain and the Via Maris (the Way of the Sea).
Belvoir withstood Saladin’s efforts to conquer it (1187-1189). Only after a year-and-a-half-long siege, after the rest of the Crusader kingdom had been vanquished, the defenders finally agreed to surrender and move to Tyre, still in Crusader hands. The reconstructed fortress is the most complete Crusader fortress in the country and the only one all of whose parts have been excavated. It consists of a 20-meter wide, 12-meter-deep moat surrounding the outer, pentagonal fortress, which in turn surrounds a stronghold tower (donjon). Powerful towers stood at each corner.
Sculptures by the Israeli artist Yigael Tumarkin are on display south of the fortress. North of the fortress is a feeding station to strengthen the Griffon’s vulture population.’
How to get there: From the Tiberias-Bet She’an road (no. 90), north of Bet She’an, take road 717 for about 15 km.