Rosh Hanikra is the most famous tourist attraction located at the most north-western corner of Israel, at the border with Lebanon. It is the only point in the whole country where the sea meets the high mountains to create a breathtaking landscape.
Ancient Jewish sources referred to the cliff as "The Ladder of Tyre". Through the thousands years of the human history, Rosh Hanikra served as point of passage for travelers, trading caravans and invading armies between the Northern cultures of Assyria, Babylon and Greece and the Southern cultures - Israel and Egypt.
Back in 701 BC the invading Assyrian army of King Sennacherib passed the way between Tyre and the land of Israel. They invaded and destroyed the Northern Jewish Kingdom of Israel, taking the 10 Tribes into an exile from which they have never returned.
In 323 BC Alexander the Great cut a passageway at Rosh Hanikra and from there he marched his huge army to Jerusalem and Egypt on a way of creating his great Empire encompassing most of the then known world.
In 1099 AD The Crusaders crossed into the Holy Land by successfully passing through Rosh Hanikra. Documents and drawings of the Christian warriors and pilgrims show stairways carved into the solid Rosh Hanikra rock. Crossing Rosh Hanikra opened for the Crusades the way to Jerusalem, which was captured in July of the same year. This is how the Crusades Kingdom of Jerusalem was established in the Holy Land.
During the Second World War the British engineering units from the New Zealand and South Africa dug a railway tunnel under the cliffs of Rosh Hanikra. On the night of 14.3.1948, a sabotage unit of the Jewish Underground Army, "Hagana" entered the tunnel and the grotto bridge and blew them up ending the British Military supplies from Lebanon.
Rosh Hanikra has a great history indeed, but still its main attraction is the grottoes, astonishing geological formations formed over dozens of thousands years of tectonic shifts. The crashing waves continue this process to this day, slowly gnawing at the rock.
The grottoes view is breathtaking. It's a constant game of the water and the rocks, fighting each other in a millions years old battle. Blue color of the waves and the white color of the rocks create together a picture of a fascinating beauty.
The Rosh Hanikra landscape is unique in Israel. The cliff at the foot of a chalk mountain range creates a steep, white pillar, 230 feet high and dipping into the sea. The mountain ridge has three distinct layers, each distinguished by their particular hardness. The top layer is hard chalk rock and even harder dolomite. The middle layer is comprised of soft chalk. The bottom layer is hard chalk again and for the most part, lies beneath the sea surface. Over a period of thousands of years, the wear and tear of waves against the milder second layer created the caves and caverns known today as the "grottoes".
In the past, the grottoes could only be reached by sea, but today they are accessed via cable car – the world’s shortest and steepest line, rising 230 feet above sea level at a 60 degree angle. The ride provides a stunning view of the area, making you better prepared to what is awaiting at the bottom - the Grottoes.
Visiting Rosh Hanikra is a fascinating and unforgettable experience and should not be missed even if you schedule your trip to Israel to be shorter than a week!