Ayalon Canada Park - Biblical & Modern Israel

Ayalon Canada Park is named after the Ayalon Valley that lies at its feet, and in recognition of the contribution for its development from friends of JNF Canada.


Geographic location: Sharon and coastal plains

Identity Card



Ayalon Canada Park. Photo: Guy Asiag, KKL-JNF Photo Archive


Special sites in the park: Ayalon Springs, the Maayanot Valley, the Ayub Well, Tel Ayalon, the Date Palm Spring, the Scenic Lookout Hill, Eked Antiquities, the Jordanian Burma Road, Emmaus Church, the Olive Tree Recreation Area, Roman Bathhouse.
 
Facilities: Picinic area, Lookout, Marked path, Archeological or Historic site, Easy access (close to road).

Additional Sites in the Vicinity: Yitzhak Rabin Park (Burma Road, Jeep Road, Command Post Road), Latrun Fortress, Latrun Monastery (Armored Corps Museum), Tzora Forest Sculpture Road (Hanassi Forest), Neve Ilan College Forest.
 
How do you get there?
From Jerusalem, near the Paz gas station at the Shaar Hagai Interchange.
 
Access to the main site in the Maayanot Valley and the groves of Tel Ayalon: From the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv Highway turn toward Mevo Horon and Ramallah at Latrun Junction (Highway 3). Ayalon Park is on the right and on the left of the highway about one kilometer after the junction.

Projects and Partners Worldwide
Park Ayalon Canada was developed and rehabilitated thanks to
a contribution from friends of KKL- JNF in Canada.
 

About the Park


Observation point in Ayalon Canada Park. Photo: Avi Hayun.

The park is rich in natural woodland scenery, planted forests and especially fruit trees, which can be seen throughout the area. There are fascinating historical sites in the park and around it, such as an aqueduct, burial caves, secret tunnels, a crusader castle and church ruins. KKL-JNF cares for the park's fruit trees and has planted additional trees, along with developing scenic roads, parking areas, scenic lookouts and many recreation areas. In the Maayanot Valley and at the Date Palm Spring, large recreation areas have been developed for leisure activities in natural surroundings, including a beautiful manmade lake. It covers an area of seven thousand dunams north of the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv highway, between Shaar Hagai and the Latrun Interchange.
 
There are also recreation areas near the Ayub Well and in the vicinity of the Ayalon Springs. Ayalon Canada Park is named after the Ayalon Valley that lies at its feet, and in recognition of the contribution for its development from friends of JNF Canada. The natural topography of the Ayalon Valley has made it a very desirable location since ancient times. This is because the fertile soil, which benefited from the water that flowed into the valley, was cultivated since the dawn of history, and also because there is a strategic crossroads in the valley, which dominate the roads from the lowland and the coastal plain to Jerusalem and Beit Horon.

Many battles were fought for control of the valley. One of the most famous was the war between Joshua and the Canaanite kings, which ended with the famous cry, “Sun, stand still in Givon, and the moon in the Ayalon Valley” (Joshua 10:12). There were also fierce battles in the Ayalon Valley between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids in the 2nd century BCE.
 


Photo: Guy Assayag.

From the scenic roads in Ayalon Canada Park you can see the locations where, according to tradition, the battles between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucid Army took place, including an observation point with a view of Ma'ale Beit Horon and the Emmaus area. This is where the first battles of the Hasmoneans took place from 167 to 165 BCE.
 
In the first stage of the Arab occupation of the land of Israel in the 7th century CE, this valley served as a center for their forces. The crusaders also considered the Ayalon Valley a strategic asset and built an important fortress in Latrun, Le Toron Des Chevaliers, the castle of the knights. Many fierce battles also took place here during the War of Independence, between the IDF and the Jordanian Legion.

Park Sites

Einot Ayalon

 

The Ayalon Springs, is a very large area covered with groves that KKL-JNF turned into a hill agriculture reserve with beautiful agricultural terraces where there are fig trees, pomegranates, olives, jujubes, almonds, mulberries and others. KKL-JNF landscaped the site and created recreation areas and scenic roads, and there is a short footpath that leads to the Maayanot Valley.

Emek Hamaayanot (Maayanot Valley, the Valley of the Springs)
 


Ayalon Canada Park. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.

The valley is around 1.5 kilometers long, and alongside it are interesting remains from the water system of the city of Emmaus-Nicopolis. The aqueducts were built in the Late Roman period (3rd and 4th centuries CE). Two aqueducts, on two different levels, were built from stone links along which a channel was carved. The upper aqueduct starts at the Eked antiquities.

 

The lower aqueduct starts at an underground spring. The water from this spring became available after a shaft three meters deep was made, which reached the level of the groundwater. On the hiking trail along the Maayanot Valley there are fig trees, pomegranate trees and antiquities such as agricultural implements and ancient tombs. Especially notable is the Roman Tomb, a family gravesite carved in the rock. The route ends at the Date Palm Spring, where KKL-JNF created a manmade lake surrounded by recreation areas.

 

In the lower part of the Maayanot Valley, which is next to the Date Palm Pool, a circulation system was installed, which conducts water from the pool 300 meters up the valley. The water flows back down to the pool via falls and pools. The system, which began operating in the summer of 2012, is at the test-run stage, and it operates every day from 09:00 to 15:00.

Ayub Well and Ayalon Springs

 

The Ayub Well can be found among the ruins of the small Arab village Dir Ayub, which controlled the road ascending to Jerusalem. During the War of Independence, the village changed hands several times but ended up occupied by the Jordanian Legion. After the War of Independence, the village was abandoned and remained in no man’s land. There are two small springs flowing next to a large fig tree. The water was channeled in the past to two stone structures, and from there it was conducted to the bottom of the valley. KKL-JNF maintains the groves in the village and has developed recreation areas in the vicinity.


The road from Dir Ayub to the Ayalon Springs passes the A-Zahar Ridge, also known as the Canon Ridge, at the summit of which is a breathtaking 360 degree observation point. There was a Jordanian position here during the War of Independence, which the IDF tried to conquer, in vain. The road descends from the Canon Ridge to a fork which leads right to the Ayalon Springs or left to the Maayanot Valley and the aqueducts.

Tel Ayalon
 


Date Palm Spring. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

This is where the place called Ayalon was situated, a city in the domain of the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:42), which lent its name to the entire valley. Near the hill there are several springs called the Ayalon Springs. The large one is called Bir El-Jabar, which is inside an ancient stone structure south of the fortress. At Tel Ayalon you can see remains of the Castellum Arnoldi crusader fortress, which was built in the early 12th century as part of a defense system for the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and dominates the northern part of the Ayalon Valley. The noticeable remains in the area are segments of the western and southern walls.
 
Date Palm Spring
 
Also known as Ein Nini, is a spring that flows from an opening whose walls are tiled with stones. It flows all year. The opening is part of an ancient irrigation system, apparently from the Byzantine period. These days the spring water flows in a short aqueduct that used to conduct the water to a storage pool. Below the spring is a park that was developed by KKL-JNF with spacious lawns and picnic tables, and it has become a favorite spot for visitors.
Scenic Lookout Hill
 
is an observation point not far from the entrance to Ayalon Canada Park. Near it there are ancient winepresses carved in the rock, where grapes were pressed to make the grape juice that was fermented into wine.

Eked Antiquities
 


Beit Hakshatot (the House of Arches). KKL-JNF Photo Archive

These are ruins on the top of a steep hill, with remains of a fortress, apparently form the Hasmonean period, and a secret tunnel about 25 meters long that ends at a cistern. The method according to which the tunnel was carved matches the style of tunnels attributed to the Bar Kochba period. This is an easy trail that branches off the road about 50 meters before the big bend and leads to the crest of the hill. Alongside the trail you can see ancient agricultural implements carved in the rocks.
 
Jordanian Burma Road
 
is a roadway that was paved by the Jordanian Legion during the War of Independence, from Emmaus to the village of Yalo, and from there to the villages of Beit Nuba and Beit Likia. The road proceeds from the sharp bend at the top of the Springs Valley. The purpose of the road was to bypass the IDF wedge in the El-Burj hills, which cut off the main road from Latrun to Ramallah.

Hill 312 and Sheikh Ibn Jabal
 
The tomb of Sheikh Ibn Jabal commemorates the legendary character of the Muslim warrior Ibn Jabal, who perished, according to tradition, in an epidemic that plagued Muslim forces in Emmaus in 639 CE. An inscription found above the doorway to the tomb attests that the building was erected in 1288 CE by the Mamluk ruler of the Jerusalem stronghold. From the tomb there is an amazing view of the Ayalon Valley, Latrun and the coastal plain from Netanya to Ashdod.
 
Emmaus Church
 
is outside the area of the park, but it is very close by and worth visiting. At the foot of a large white stone building, the Beth Shalom hostel, there are remnants from a large church from the Byzantine period (5th century CE). The church was built on top of the ruins of a Roman villa from the 2nd century CE, but most of the visible ruins were built much later by the crusaders in the 12th century.

Olive Tree Recreation Area and Emmaus Antiquities
 
 To the west of Highway 3, near an olive grove, KKL-JNF developed the Olive Tree Recreation Area. Nearby, on both sides of the road, are the antiquities of Emmaus, the Greek name for the city of Hamat on the border of Judea. The name of the city is derived from a hot spring, which does not flow nowadays. It is quite likely that the Roman Bathhouse utilized the water from this spring. Emmaus was a symbol for a place of pleasure.
 


Horseriding in Ayalon Canada Park. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.

About Emmaus it was said, “Emmaus, a source of beautiful water and a beautiful garden” (Kohelet Rabba 7:15). Since the 3rd century, the city was called Nicopolis (the city of Nico, the goddess of victory). The water system of the city, some of which has been preserved in Ayalon Canada Park, made the city famous far and wide. Most of the impressive antiquities are not near the Olive Tree Recreation Area but are in the section of the park on the eastern side of the highway.

 
The Roman Bathhouse
 
is next to the Emmaus Church, just a little outside the park borders, in the cemetery of the city of Emmaus. The Arabic name of the place is Sheikh Ubeid, who according to Arabic tradition was the main commander of the Muslim army that died in the 7th century in the
 
Emmaus plague. Major sections of the bathhouse, which had four chambers, have remained intact. A conduit conducted the spring water to the bathhouse, and this seems to be the hot bathhouse of Emmaus described in Jewish sources.

One and a half kilometers north of Shaar Hagai there is a road that branches off, marked in red, which goes east to the milestone site. It is worth parking the car next to the Israel Electric Company station, since from here on the road is suitable for a four wheel drive. After walking for a few minutes, you will get to the milestones that mark the ancient route that went from Emmaus in the Ayalon Valley to Jerusalem.

An inscription that was found on one of the stones mentions the Emperor Maximinus, who reigned from 235 to 238 CE. Farther on, about 1.5 kilometers away, is the Matzad ruin, from which there is a panoramic view of the Ayalon Valley and the ascent from Shaar Hagai. After returning to the car you can proceed to the Bir Ayub and Einot Ayalon recreation areas.