3,000 years ago a great road connecting the Pharaohs Egypt with the Kingdoms of Akkad and Schumer used to pass here. Powerful citadels were built along this road, with governors' palaces, towns and villages.
Thousand years later, 2,000 years ago, this road got a name "Via Maritime" – Sea-side highway. Actually, the Mediterranean Sea is some 20 miles to the West from here, but it was impossible to cross huge swamps in the area which is great Tel Aviv today, in a close vicinity to the Sea. And therefore Via Maritime had to pass much further to the East, bypassing the deadly swamps.
At the Roman times two great projects were created here – at the Western side of the road King Herod built a beautiful small town with a rather modest residence and a cozy theater for some 50 people – the Odeon, as the Romans used to call it. He called this town by the name of his father – Antipatrus. At the Eastern side of the road Herod allies, the Romans used an ancient small citadel to build a new fortified military camp at the top of the hill.
Egyptian Governor' Residence and Ottoman Citadel
Herod' Antipatrus Roman Theater - Odeon
Ages passed, and Antipatrus was abandoned, but the citadel kept its importance, and it was rebuilt by the Crusades into a powerful castle of an immense size.
In the XVI Century, 500 years ago, the Crusades Citadel became a private residence of the local Arab landlord, whose name was Tzedek, and so it got a name of Migdal Tzedek ("Tzedek' Tower").
But the fortifications were still essential indeed, and the Ottomans built a brand new huge citadel at Antipatrus.
The last time this place witnessed a bitter battle was in 1948. Antipatrus was built at the most strategic place where powerful springs used to push from under the ground providing a huge amount of the fresh water. The British who used to rule in Palestine between the two World Wars, decided to create a huge engineering project and to pump this water up to Jerusalem.
When the middle of the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was cut by the invading Jordanian Army, the Brits choose the abandon Antipatrus, and it was occupied by the Jewish Para-Military forces of Etzel. These guys were brave, but they could not keep the Citadel against a mass invasion of the Iraqi Army. They lost the battle, but very soon Israel wan a war, and already in July of 48" Antipatrus was taken by the Alexandroni Division of the new-born IDF. Dozens of the Israeli soldiers fall in these two battles, and a beautiful monument at the foot of the Citadel keeps their memory.
Independence War Memorial
And in our days these two great sites – Antipatrus and Migdal Tzedek are the National Parks. Full of Natural beauty and history, these two sites are among the most popular among the Israelis, who love to come here, to learn their ancient and modern history and to also enjoy a great picnic in the nature!
Park Afek - Antipatrus
The Author during the tour at Afek - Antipatrus this Saturday