The 3250-acre Yarkon National Park lies between Tel Afek (Antipatris) and the Morasha interchange. The park has two main attractions: Tel Afek and its Ottoman-period fortress, Binar Bashi, overlooking the springs of the Yarkon River; and the area around the sources of the Yarkon River, which boasts a wealth of flora and fauna.
Binar Bashi was built in 1571 on top of an ancient tell (mound composed of the remains of successive settlements). The fortress offers a fine view of the Rosh Ha?ayin (or Yarkon) springs, which flow at the foot of Tel Afek. On the eastern part of the tell are the remains of a pumping station from the British Mandate period, once used to transport spring water from here to Jerusalem.
At one time, the city of Afek commanded an important leg on the route from Egypt to Damascus known as the Via Maris. Afek is mentioned in the Bible as the place where the Philistines prepared for the decisive battle against the Israelites (eleventh century B.C.E.). The Israelites settled in Afek in the early tenth century B.C.E., following King David?s victory over the Philistines. South of the Ottoman fortress, archeologists uncovered the main street and the commercial quarter of the city of Antipatris, built by King Herod. Paul tarried here when the Roman governor in Caesarea ordered that he be brought to Jerusalem.
A path from Tel Afek to the sources of the Yarkon River runs along the upper stretch of the river. A wealth of vegetation can be seen in the sparking water.
Sources of the Yarkon River
Clean water streams through the upper part of the Yarkon River. Although most of water from the springs is siphoned off for the National Water Carrier, the river is never allowed to run dry and a variety of flora and fauna flourish there. The bends in the river, where the water flows with less force, provide an ideal environment for yellow water lilies, whose large yellow flowers are especially beautiful in the summer.
Visitors will be interested in the ruins at the park. The arched Mir flour mill is the easternmost flour mill on the Yarkon River. Slightly to the west are the remains of Kasr Ranch, with a wall, a well, and a collection pool. Salim Kasr of Jaffa sold Kasr Ranch to Baron Rothschild. The land was then used by the founders of the nearby city of Petah Tikva.
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