Glimpses of Israel - Rosh Hanikra

by Joseph Hunting

Rosh Hanikra is the northern-most place on Israel's coastline. The name means Grottoes' Head. Traders from the dawn of history have passed this way and Joshua mentions Rosh Hanikra as Israel's northern border.

Later in Israel's history Alexander the Great led his armies past these beautiful grottoes and steps were carved in the soft limestone cliffs to assist the passage of caravans and their laden beasts over the steep approaches.

During World War I a road was built along the rugged coastline by Indian engineers. During World War 2 British army units dug a tunnel for a railway to connect Haifa with Beirut. This railway formed an important link with Mediterranean coastal towns during the mandate period. However, in March 1947 the Palmach blew up the railway adjacent to the tunnel to prevent Arab forces invading Israel from the north. The line has not been opened since.

The white limestone cliffs at Rosh Hanikra form the extremity of a limestone chain of mountains in northern Israel. They plunge almost perpendicularly into the sea from a height of about 250 feet. Access to the grottoes is by means of a cable car.

The grottoes are the result of erosion over thousands of years. At evening time, particularly when there is a colourful sunset, the grottoes are breathtakingly beautiful.