בניאס

Panias Spring - Fanium - Banias - Cave of Pan


Useful Information

Location: Hermon Stream Nature Reserve.
At the foot of Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights. 56 km southwest of Damascus, 40 km north of Lake Galilee, 150 km north of Jerusalem. Follow road 99.
(33.248380, 35.694519)
Open: APR to SEP Fri 8-16, Sat-Wed 8-17.
OCT to MAR Fri 8-15, Sat-Wed 8-16.
Holiday eves 8-13, Yom Kippur eve 8-13.
[2021]
Fee: Adults NIS 28, Children NIS 14, Student NIS 24, Israeli Seniors NIS 14.
Groups (30+): Adults NIS 24, Children NIS 12.
[2021]
Classification: KarstKarst Spring
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Hermon Stream (Banias) Nature Reserve, Tel: +972-4-690-2577, Fax: +972-4-690-4066.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

3rd cty BC begin of Pagan worship.
198 BC the decisive battle between the heirs of Alexander the Great was joined here.
2 BC pagan city founded by Herod Philip and named Caesarea Philippi.

Description

בניאס (Panias) is a huge karst spring, which is more or less the source of river Jordan. Located in the Golan Heights at the foot of Mt. Hermon, this area is claimed by both Israel and Syria.

In ancient times Panias was an enormous spring, water emerging from a cave called Pans' Cave. The stream is called Nahal Senir and soon merges with two more springs and forms the river Jordan. Today there is much less water, the water no longer runs from the cave, but seeps from the rocks below. The reason is not clear, most likely it's because of the deforestation of Mount Hermon. It could also be a result of the realignment of faults in the rock because of earthquakes. And finally it could be a result of ongoing karstification, which widens the lower passages and finally will result in a relocation of the spring.

This place has a very long history which is obvious, because of the geographic benefits of the place. And as long as the history is the list of names given to the place: Baal-gad, Banias, Baniyas, Banyas, Barias, Belinas, Caesarea Neronias, Caesarea Philippi, Caesarea Paneas, Caesarea Panias, Caesareia Sebaste, Keisarion, Kisrin, Medinat Dan, Mivzar Dan, Neronias, Pamias, Paneas, Paneias, Paneion, Panias, Panium. Originally the cave was used for pagan worship, and still there are five votive niches in the cliff wall remaining. The half-man, half-goat god of fright Pan is the base of the word panic and the name Panias.

Nearby, today's city of Banias, was called Caesarea Philippi during Roman times. Caesarea Philippi is mentioned in the Bible various times. The great confession and the transfiguration, both occurred in the vicinity of the city (Matt 16:13).

The area is full of interesting karst features and archaeological remains. Most is protected by the Hermon Stream Nature Reserve, which also has the largest waterfall in Israel, hiking trails, and a temple to the god Pan. The Banyas Waterfall is only 10 m high, but it is the most powerful waterfall in Israel. Nearby is the Hanging Trail, a 100 m long well-built wooden boardwalk which makes this part of the stream accessible. Close to the spring is the חנת קמח (Flour Mill Museum) in the Matruf Flour Mill. It is an active flour mill which still serves the villagers of Mas’ada and En Kiniya. And there are several ruined flour mills along the stream, the Um Ra’i mill near Nahal Sa’ar, and the Al-Mahadeh and Sab’ah mills near the waterfall.