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Sites along the Yarqon River

There are many historical and archaeological sites located along the Yarqon River, including flour mills which operated along the Yarqon during different historical periods.  One can find sites for leisure and recreation scattered along the Yarqon and a visit to them is recommended. 
 
A trail map for the convenience of hikers, cyclists, and motorists can be found on the website and may be printed out.  All the visitors’ sites appear on this map which should make for your easier orientation.
Prior to setting out on a trip please read the safety instructions carefully!
The Yarqon River Authority wishes you a pleasant and enjoyable trip!
 
For your convenience we have divided up the sites based on the nature of the trip in the area:
Archaeological and historical sites;
Archaeology and history: Remains of flour mills along the river;
Sites for recreation, leisure, and relaxation. 
 
 
Archaeological and historical sites

Migdal Zedek – Mirabel (beautiful view)
What is there to see here?  A series of stone structures from the Ottoman period built over the remains of a crusader fortress.  Migdal Zedek is an archaeological site and from its summit, there is a fine view of the whole region; it lies within the boundaries of a national park.
Historical overview:  The settlement continued here without interruption down through the different historical ages thanks to its vital control over the southern Sharon and the Yarqon basin, and it constituted part of the defenses for the city of Antipatris located near the springs.  During the Crusader period (12th century C.E.) the site’s importance increased and became known as “Mirabel”, which means a beautiful view.  During the Ottoman period (19th century C.E.) an Arab by the name of Tzadak al-Jamaenini settled at this location and earned his living from highway robbery and by illegally collecting taxes for the right of way along the main road (“Via Maris“) at the foot of the hill.  This site was called Majdal Tzadak after him, which is rendered in Hebrew: Migdal  Zedek.
 
 
Aphek National Park – Antipatris   
What is there to see here?  The most prominent remains here belong to the Ottoman citadel known as “Binar Bashi”.  The citadel was built on top of a governor’s house from the Canaanite period and the remains of the Roman-Byzantine city of Antipatris (Aphek) are evident alongside it. 
 
Historical overview:  The settlement at Tel Aphek existed continually for 5,000 years, beginning with the Early Bronze Age up until the Ottoman period.  During the Late Roman Period (2nd -4th centuries C.E.), Antipatris became the region’s leading city and reaped the benefits of its position as the main intersection of the road system which the Roman government built in Israel.  Antipatris, together with Mirabel, commanded the Aphek pass, the Yarqon basin, and the southern Sharon plain.  The Ottoman citadel at the tell’s summit was built in 1571 by the Sultan Selim II and called “Binar Bashi”, which means Rosh Ha’Ayin.
 
Pillbox – Railway line       
What is there to see here?  A guard post along the railway line from Petah Tikva to Rosh Ha’Ayin that was in use during the time of the “Arab Revolt” (the violent incidents during 1936-9).
 
Historical overview:  After the First World War, with the opening of a railway station at Rosh Ha’Ayin on the railway line from Haifa to Kantara, the demand increased to make it easier to send citrus fruit shipments to Egypt, and so a plan was initiated to construct a railway line from Petah Tikva to Rosh Ha’Ayin.
The importance of that railway line increased considerably during the Arab Revolt from 1936 to 1939 (known in Hebrew as the events of 5686-9) because the access to other stations was blocked.  It was during this time that the pillbox was erected to serve as a position for the railway guards against the Arab rioters.  These guard duties were carried out by the Jewish Auxiliary Railway Policemen (“Notrim“), and the name Pillbox was due to the fact that its shape reminded one of a box for keeping medicine.
 
Salim Kassar farm     
 What is there to see here?  The remains of an agricultural estate with a well operated by a water-wheel to pump the water, and with a storage pool.    
Historical overview:  The well and storage pool were constructed in 1878 by a Christian Arab merchant from Yafo named Salim Al-Kassar who bought the land and decided to build an agricultural estate.  In 1895 the estate was purchased by Baron Rothschild who gave it to the settlers of Petah Tikva to conduct agricultural trials there.
The Kassar farm now forms part of the Yarqon Water Sources National Park.  The well is listed among the historical sites worthy of preservation which was drawn up by the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites.
 
The “Concrete House” 
What is there to see here?  This is a two-story concrete building built in 1921 as a pump house for the “Palestine” Irrigation Company.  The structure was preserved almost in its entirety and its exterior appearance reminds one of the façades of the “Herzliya Hebrew High-School” (“Gymnasia HaIvrit Herzliya“) – old early Israeli style (“Yishuv“).  
Historical overview:    Bezalel Yafe founded the “Palestine” Irrigation Company to supply water to the citrus groves in the surrounding area and after his death, the house was sold to the “Yarqon” company, which is owned by the Israel Electric Corporation.  The “Concrete House” is a unique site in Israel and owes its considerable historical importance to the fact that it was first structure in Israel to be constructed from concrete, and it also served as the first plant to supply water for the citrus groves employing modern means.
The pumping station is located on the banks of the Yarqon, close to the Baptist Village, and to the south of the “Trans-Shomron (Samaria)” highway (Route No.5).
 
“Yarqonim” settlement site
What is there to see here?   Remains of the attempted settlement of the “Yarqonim” group on the banks of the Yarqon River in 1880.   
Historical overview: Following the establishment of the Moshava of Petah Tikvaseveral people from Petah Tikva and Jerusalem settled on the banks of the Yarqon River, choosing to settle here beside the Yarqon because it was close to sources of water.  The new settlers sought to establish a settlement whose economy would be based on fishing and agriculture, but this location was plagued by malaria and disease.  However, during the summer of that first year, many of the settlers perished from malaria while during the following winter the Yarqon River flooded the homes of the remaining settlers when the river overflowed its banks so that eventually the settlers were forced to leave.  The settlers’ memory is perpetuated by a large stone inscription.
 
Tel Qasila
What is there to see here?   A tell, which was initially a Philistine port dating back to the biblical period of the Judges, includes temples and dwellings.  A special pavilion at the foot of the complex of temples and dwellings features an exhibition of findings from Tel Qasila.  Three strata from the Philistine settlement exist at the tell and were unearthed during excavations conducted at the site.  Moreover, the floor of a Samaritan synagogue from the Byzantine period was also revealed.      
Historical overview:  Settlement at Tel Qasila first began during the time of the Judges with the establishment of a major city port.  The Philistine city developed in three stages over a period of 150 years since its foundation in 1150 B.C.E. until its destruction by fire, apparently by the armies of King David, in 980 B.C.E.
During the First World War, Tel Qasila served as a Turkish military post in the fight against the British army as it advanced from the south towards the Yarqon. 
The tell is located within the boundaries of the Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv and received its name from fields known by that name that is situated outside the tell’s area.
 
History and Archaeology: Flour mills along the River;
El-Mir mill
What is there to see here?  The remains of the first flour mill upstream in the river are evident and three construction stages are visible: The Roman-Byzantine period, the crusader or Mameluke periods, and the Ottoman period.
Historical overview:   Among the five mills which were in operation along the Yarqon River the El-Mir mill is the furthest upstream and because of its proximity to Antipatris (Aphek), it is perhaps the most ancient one.  The name was apparently derived from the name of a nearby Arab village and due to the fact that the mill’s walls were used as a bridge to cross the river.  The mill was in working condition up until the 1880s.  The El-Mir mill is now located within the boundaries of the “Yarqon Sources” National Park.
 
Abu Rabah mill
What is there to see here?  A flour mill, which was established at the end of the 19th century by Sheikh Abu-Rabah stands beside the ruins of an ancient mill.  The structure of the southern mill was restored during 2003.
Historical overview:  As part of improvements carried out at the mill in 1913, two relatively modern turbines from Germany were installed to replace the wooden wheels.  Later in 1917 after the Turks retreated and the bridges over the Yarqon were blown up the mill’s importance increased as it provided the only crossing over the Yarqon River.
 From 1936 to 1948 this was the only mill still operating here, thanks to its modern equipment and convenient access roads.  During Israel’s War of Independence the mill ceased operating and in 1959 it finally closed down when the Yarqon-Negev project was inaugurated.       
 
Faruchia mills
What is there to see here?  The remains of a diversion channel belonging to the flour mill, which was in use near the village of Faruchia and was operated by workers from the Bedouin tribe of Abu-Kishek.
Historical overview:   The Faruchia mill is known to us only from maps and documentary evidence because it was completely destroyed at the beginning of the 20th century.  In use, until the end of the 19th century, the Faruchia mill was soon destroyed as the villagers of Faruchia took the mill’s stones to build houses, pave roads and also exploited them for military use during the First World War.  A flour mill and bridge once existed on the mill’s site and an electric switching substation now stands here.
 
El-Hadar mill (Ten Mills)
What is there to see here?  The El-Hadar mill is the largest and most impressive of the Yarqon mills and possibly of all the mills throughout Israel too.  Nowadays, the only visible remains at the site are the northern mill’s western wall and a wall which once constituted part of the southern weir. 
Historical overview:  The construction of a mill here began as early as the Roman period.  At the height of its operations 20 pairs of millstones operated at the mill, however, its name goes back to the period when only ten pairs were working. The mill was closed down during the First World War when the retreating Turks blew up the bridge and the weir.
 
The Grinding Mill (Jarisha) – Seven Mills
What is there to see here?  The remains of a network of three 19th century flour mills that are located on top of earlier remains.  A stone weir and wooden bridge spanning a narrow watercourse also exist at the site.
Historical overview: The name “Seven Mills” was derived from the seven grinding units, which operated inside the western building in the mill complex.  The word “Grinding” (Jarisha) indicated by the site’s name serves as testimony to the grinding operations carried out at that site.  The western mill was in continuous use from the time of the Ottoman Empire, and two additional mills were constructed in the 19th century.  The whole mill complex was in operation until 1936. 
The remains of an ancient weir were used as the base for a stone weir, which was built in recent years to allow people to cross the Yarqon. 
The “Seven Mills” site lies within the boundaries of the Ganei Yehoshua Park.
 
Sites for recreation, leisure, and relaxation. 
Yarqon Sources National Park
The park is located beside the Yarqon’s water sources (close to the Baptist Village), in the river’s cleanest flow section.  The park and its environs attract animals and lush vegetation.  Leisure amenities and picnic installations are available for use by the general public in the park area.
 
Water lilies pond
This pond is the last vestige of the springs’ natural area, which forms part of the Yarqon springs flowing freely into the river.  This area is considered as the Yarqon’s headwaters.  The vegetation there and especially the yellow water lily make this pond unique.
 
Givat haKalaniot (Anemone Hill)
Swathes of anemone flowers cover this hill from December to March.  Graves dug into the soil with findings from the Byzantine period were discovered here.
 
The article on the “Seven Mills” site was an excerpt from the Yarqon Basin magazine – sites and hiking trails, published by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Society’s orienteering groups.