Postcard from Israel – Gamla

“From a lofty mountain there descends a rugged spur rising in the middle to a hump, the declivity from the summit of which is of the same length before as behind, so that in form the ridge resembles a camel; whence it derives its name. Its sides and face are cleft all round by inaccessible ravines, but at the tail end, where it hangs on to the mountain, it is somewhat easier of approach; but this quarter also the inhabitants, by cutting a trench across it, had rendered difficult of access. The houses were built against the steep mountain flank and astonishingly huddled together, one on top of the other, and this perpendicular site gave the city the appearance of being suspended in air and falling headlong upon itself. It faced south, and its southern eminence, rising to an immense height, formed the citadel; below this an unwalled precipice descended to the deepest of the ravines. There was a spring within the walls at the confines of the town.”

So the Second Temple era town of Gamla in the Golan Heights is described by Josephus Flavius in his book “The Jewish Wars”. For many years, however, the exact location of Gamla was unknown until, in 1976, excavations at the site revealed an ancient Synagogue, ritual baths, houses, and evidence of the fierce battle against the Romans which resulted in the town’s destruction in 67 CE. 

Today, Gamla is a nature reserve and alongside the ancient Jewish town visitors can also see Neolithic dolmens and the ruins of the Byzantine Christian village of Dir Krukh which was abandoned at the time of the Arab conquest in the 7th century, as well as the highest waterfall in Israel and the Griffon Vulture sanctuary and breeding grounds on the cliffs surrounding Gamla. 


Gamla from the east


Memorial to residents of the Golan killed in Israel’s wars


Dolmen at Gamla


Dir Krukh


Dir Krukh


Vulture nesting grounds


Griffon Vulture


Synagogue Gamla

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16 replies »

    • Steve, dear, I think you’ve littered this blog quite sufficiently.
      Now, don’t you have plenty of schoolwork to get done by Monday?

      • C 101 he finished is homework yesterday…

        BTW, wonderful wild life in the Golan.
        Shame about the Syrian brown bear which the Arabs drove away from this area…

        • I know, marvellous photos!
          I’ve also read, in Maariv I think, about deer returning in their droves to the Golan.
          It’s fantastic — which reminded me I need to plan a trip there, if the weather permits(the snow this season, as I am sure you know, has been quite plentiful)

        • Itsik, it’s sweet to see that you care about the brown bear. it’d be even sweeter if you also cared about the 750,000 Palestinians who were driven away from their homes when the state Israel was created in 1948.

        • Erm … “the Arabs”??

          How would you feel about a similar negative statement referring simply to “the Jews”?

      • 101, Gamla is not in Israel, it’s in the occupied Syrian Golan. May I suggest you go to a bookshop and buy a map?

        • The Golan has been occupied by Israel since 1967, following war with Syria and other countries. It is not an Israeli territory. It is to be returned to Syria as part of peace negotiations, the day when peace is possible at last.

    • There are two settlements in these photos one Jewish, destroyed by Romans, and one Byzantine Christian, abandoned at the time of the Arab conquest in the 7th century…you know, when the Islamists subjugated/expelled the indigenous population.

  1. Hadar, this is on the list for a visit when I next visit ny grandchildren near Kiryat Shmone……………..love the photo of the vulture flying past the boy!