The Banias spring begins at the foot of Mount Hermon and its water rushes with great force through a canyonlike channel, losing 190 meters in altitude over the course of three and a half kilometers and forming the Banias waterfall, one of the most beautiful in Israel.
After nine kilometers, the Hermon River meets the Dan River and the two flow into the Jordan River.
A wide staircase connects the Banias spring to the Banias cave. Long ago, the spring actually bubbled from within the cave. The five grottos in the nearby cliff are remnants of a shrine to the god Pan, the origin of the name Panias (or Banias, as it was pronounced in Arabic). A short path leads from the cave to a white structure atop a step on the cliff, which is the graveside of the Druze Saint Nebe Hader. Outside the cave are the remains of a temple built by Herod.
Another trail leads from the flour mill downstream to the Banias waterfall, about a kilometer away. This was the site of the Officers` Pool, used by Syrian officers stationed in the area. The concrete pool is filled with spring water which is somewhat warmer than the water running in the river.
At the end of the first century B.C.E., the Romans annexed the Banias area to Herod`s kingdom. After Herod`s death, his son, Philip the Tetrarch, inherited northern Eretz Israel and established the capital of his kingdom near the springs. Although the new capital was named Caesarea Philippi, this area continued to be known as Panias.
One of the seminal events in the history of Christianity took place in Caesarea Philippi. It was here that Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus then replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" and gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16: 13-20). Christians make pilgrimages to Banias and make use of the two prayer areas there.
There are two entrances to the Nahal Hermon Reserve, one near the spring and the other downstream near the waterfall (close to Kibbutz Snir). It takes about an hour to walk from the spring to the waterfall; visitors can either leave a second car at the waterfall or walk back as they came. A special trail brings the visitor to the Roman-period ruins, including the shrine to Augustus.
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Restaurant, Place for barbecue