The beautiful formal garden of Ramat Hanadiv and hikes
Ramat Hanadiv is a beautifully designed garden created in memory of Baron Benjamin Edmond de Rothschild and probably the best formal garden in Israel. The Baron was responsible for rescuing from insolvency and dissolution the early agricultural settlements of the Hovevei Tzion movement and he eventually supported all the agricultural settlements of the First Aliya between 1881 to 1903. He thereby established the agricultural foundations for the eventual State of Israel and its early industrial development. The center of the garden contains his and his wife’s crypt and around this is the formal gardens. An inspiring movie is shown in the Visitor’s Pavilion about the Baron’s activities in Ottoman Palestine. Many people will be happy just exploring the gardens, but there are also two very nice countryside hikes that are part of the Ramat Hanadiv grounds – a shorter Spring Trail and longer Manor Trail.
A memorial garden is by its nature a contrast between death and rebirth. This garden is also designed with contrasts in mind. To quote their website: “The principle of ‘contrasts between worlds’ is expressed in different ways around the Gardens: games of light and shadow, closed spaces between open expanses, a formal, meticulous gardening style besides free style gardening, and ornamental plants besides local wild plants. Water as a source of life takes on different forms in the Gardens, flowing through channels or bubbling in fountains that produce diverse sounds.”
Directions: Enter “Ramat Hanadiv” into Waze.
For public transport enter “Museum of Philistine Culture” into Moovit.
Admission: The park is open from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and Saturday and from 8.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. on Friday. Entry into the gardens is free but there is a parking fee. There is a kiosk and restaurant. There is a partially shaded area with picnic benches. The Visitor Center has a gift shop. Arrangements to see the movie are made from here. Their phone number is 04 629 8111. This is their website.
Public transport: Enter “Ramat Hanadiv” into Moovit. The nearest bus stop is a 19 minute/ 1.6-Km walk. There are a number of bus lines to this stop.
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Crest of the Rothschild family on the main gate.
From the parking lot head to the Visitor Center to make arrangements for viewing the 15-minute movie about the work of the Baron.
Walk through the main entrance to the garden. The entrance gate has its crest of the Rothschild family.
The first home of the founder Mayer Rothschild in the Frankfurt ghetto was indicated by a red bronze shield (as we have numbers nowadays) – “rot schild” (red shield) in German, and over time this became the family name. The shield is divided into four parts symbolic of power - a lion, an eagle, and a clenched fist holding five arrows, representing the five sons that Mayer sent to Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna and Naples and who would establish the Rothschild international financial empire. Note the crown of apples and a lion and unicorn on its sides. Beneath are the words Concordia (unity), Integritas (integrity), Industria (diligence), which were the guiding principles for the Rothschild family. There are five paths leading from the gate representing the five sons sent to Europe.
It is suggested to go around the park in an anti-clockwise direction and to use the outer path. So, turn to the right. You will first come to the Fragrance Garden. This garden was initiated by Dorothy Rothschild, daughter-in-law of the Baron, with the aim of enabling those blind or sight-impaired to appreciate the garden. It contains plants with strong and unique fragrances and those that arouse the sense of touch.
You will next come to the Palm Garden, which has a selection of palms from around the world. The most prominent palm is the Washingtonia palm. This particular palm was planted along the main streets of the Baron’s moshavot.
Continue on the main outer path to the stone-paved Observation Point from where you can see the mountains of Samaria and the towns of Binyamina and Givat-Ada. The former town is named after the Baron, whose first name was Benjamin (Binyamin in Hebrew), and the latter after his wife Adelaide. (Nearby Zichron Ya’akov is named after the Baron’s father, Baron James (Ya'akov) Mayer de Rothschild)
Go inwards to the Iris Garden which contains a collection of about 50 iris species that grow wild in Israel. They flower between February to April.
Continue on either the inner or outer path to the Rose Garden. This is designed in a French symmetrical style and there are roses flowering most of the year.
Walk along the outer path to the top of the Cascade Garden. A relief map shows the location of the moshavot and other settlements founded by the Baron or that flourished with his support. Walk down the steps by the flowing stream in the direction of the Crypt. The trees by the side of the path are dragon trees. By the semi-circular pool is a sculpture of two hands attempting to grasp the flowing water, representing the passing of time.
The Crypt is in the center of the garden and this is where the Baron and his wife were interred This is not a natural cave and the crypt was carved into the stone as in Mishnaic and Talmudic times. Its iron gate is adorned with bunches of grapes, signifying the agricultural support he provided to his settlements. A cypress tree in the middle of the plaza is shaped like a memorial candle. The grave faces towards Jerusalem and is made of black basalt. An ancient Star of David is fixed above the grave and was brought from King David’s tomb on Mount Zion as a gift from the Antiquities Authority.
Return to the Entrance Plaza via either an outer or inner path.
Baron Edmond de Rothschild – HaNadiv HaYadu’a (the Known or Famous Benefactor)
In the early 1880s, Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) received urgent requests from Chovevei Zion members for financial support to prevent the immanent collapse of the farming villages of Rishon LeZion, Zikhron Ya’akov and Rosh Pina. The Baron responded by underwriting all the expenses of these settlements. Thus, began for him a lifetime of enthusiastic philanthropic work in Palestine and for the Yishuv the crucial support needed for Jewish settlement in Palestine.
The Baron was born in France, a third child to the founder of the French branch of the Rothschild banking dynasty. He was not involved in the banking business but pursued artistic and philanthropic interests, including supporting several French scientific institutes.
He and his descendants would support 44 communities in then Palestine, including kibbutzim, moshavim and moshavot (farming villages). The Baron approached his projects not as charity but as business ventures. He brought European agricultural experts to advise the settlers. His support was pivotal in planting vineyards and starting major wineries in Rishon LeZion and Zikron Ya’akov. These wineries became among the largest in the world at that time. It is from these beginnings that the wine industry developed as a major industry in Israel, the grape varieties grown in Palestine being imported from France (which is why so many of the wines made in Israel still have French names). He supported the beginning of the industrialization of the country, including a glass factory for making bottles for the wines, this being the first Jewish factory in Ottoman Palestine, although this particular venture did not succeed. He also supported the development of factories for agricultural products and the construction of power stations. It is estimated that his support came to the equivalent of over 50 million dollars in today's currency. The family’s later charitable foundation was called Yad HaNadiv.
He promoted the use of Hebrew in schools. He also encouraged members of the First Aliyah to maintain their connection to Judaism. He said: “Religious yearning is a principle among Jews …. Only a sense of religion can unite all parts of the people …. You were the first to show the way of agriculture to those who will follow you. It is your obligation to show them the way of the Jewish heart.”
He maintained excellent relationships with Arabs on his lands and this paid off during subsequent Arab disturbances. In a letter to the League of Nations in 1934 he wrote: “The struggle to put an end to the wandering Jew could not have as its result the creation of the wandering Arab.”
It so happened that his agricultural enterprises employed Arab labor, and this encouraged large scale Arab immigration into the country from surrounding countries. Some of these families would indeed become refugees when they deserted their properties during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
Twenty years after their deaths, he and his wife were re-interred from France in Ramat HaNadiv Memorial Gardens near the towns of Zichron Ya’akov and Binyamina Givat-Ada. He supported both these towns and both are named in his honor – Yaakov (James) was the name of his father and Ada (Adelaide) his wife.
At the ceremony for their reinterment, prime minister Ben Gurion said: “I doubt that, in the entire history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, a period of 2,000 years, one could ever find a man comparable in stature to the incredible character that was Baron Edmond de Rothschild.”
Hiking trails in Ramat Hanadiv
The Spring Trail:
This approximately 2½ Km circular trail takes about 1½ hours and is suitable for families. It is minimally difficult in that there is bare rock on the path, but only a short section involves a descent on rock. Walking shoes or sneakers with an adequate tread are advised and not flip-flops. The hike is on the southern edge of the Carmel Mountain and provides beautiful views over the Hanadiv Valley, which extends to the coast. The hills of Samaria are on the other side of the valley.
The hike reaches ruins of settlement by the spring Ein Tzur, which includes a Roman bathhouse. There is a very detailed description of the vegetation and ruins that follows the numbered signs on the trail on this Ramat Hanadiv website. The description here provides highlights from this website.
The starting point of the trail is a gate opposite the Visitor Center on the far side of the second parking lot and directly opposite the main path into the gardens. Go through the gate to the intersection of the blue-marked and red-marked trails and turn slightly leftwards along the blue-marked trail.
The first point of interest is the Roman bathhouse (#5) built at the end of the 1st century BCE and which continued in use until the Great Revolt in 70 CE. From the metal stairway and platform, you can make out the typical four rooms, including an undressing room, cold water room, warm room and hot bath or sauna room. The latter was heated by warm air circulating beneath the floor.
#6 is the spring of Ein Tzur and its aqueduct and pool. The tunnel winds 47 meters along a natural fissure in the bedrock to the spring. The large pool at the end of the aqueduct suppled water to the bathhouse and would have been used for agriculture and as a bathing pool. It is suitable for children to get wet.
Just beyond the dovecote or columbarium (#7) the trail goes up stone stairs through a gap in the wall and then turns left to a large archeological complex (#8). This site was inhabited from prehistoric to the 2nd century CE, including Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods. The last set of ruins you will meet are Beit Khouri (#9), a large farmhouse built by the El-Khouri family in around 1880. Their land was purchased by the Jewish Colonization Society on behalf of Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1913. Three groups of pioneers attempted to settle here between 1919 to 1923 but were unsuccessful and the land is now part of the grounds of Ramat Hanadiv.
On the trail with wonderful views over the Hanadiv Valley.
Overlooking the Roman bathhouse. The short pillars supported a floor with air heating.
The pool by the spring of Ein Tzur.
The ruins of Beit Khouri, a large farmhouse built around 1880, the land of which was purchased by Baron Edmond de Rothschild.