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Tour Guide Review

Rosh Pina is the rural tourism capital of the Galilee and an ancient settlement. When the pioneers of Rosh Pina dug the foundations for their homes on the hill, they found, to their surprise, the remains of an ancient settlement including a cave containing an olive press.

The pioneers built their synagogue on an ancient site known by the local Arabs as “knisat el yahud” (“the synagogue of the Jews”). A recent archaeological dig in Old Rosh Pina revealed more of the biblical era settlement that was located here. The name is unknown but it appears that it was an agricultural settlement within the city of Hatzor.

Hatzor, “the mother of all the kingdoms”, is the biggest Canaanite city in the land of Israel. The city of King Jabin was built at a strategic location on the road that crossed the ancient empires of the Fertile Crescent. The route was used by caravans, the Israelite tribes, merchants and apparently even the Patriarch Abraham and his grandson Jacob, on their way from Harran to Canaan and maybe even Paul on his journeys to Damascus. According to tradition, Joseph’s Pit is located 5 km south of Rosh Pina.

Rosh Pina’s location is indeed its outstanding advantage. In addition to its aesthetic and architectural uniqueness Rosh Pina is the ideal starting point for touring the Galilee. This advantage has made Rosh Pina the rural hospitality centre of the Galilee.

When you stay at one of Pina Balev’s luxury suites in the heart of the old town, after relaxing in the whirlpool bath or enjoying a professional spa treatment, you can make yourself a cup of delicious freshly ground espresso, using the professional machine in your room and relax on the veranda or in the gardens. You can fire up your laptop using Pina Balev’s Wi-Fi connection and catch up with work or google to decide where to visit the next day or select a restaurant for dinner. Needless to say, Kobi is always available and more than happy to sit with you and help you come up with various itineraries tailored to your interests and time restrictions, recommend a restaurant, and provide you with vouchers for local attractions.

If you love nature and happen to visit us in the spring or fall, there is no better place to visit than the Hula Valley International Birding Centre also known as the Hula Reserve, one of the world’s most prominent bird-watching sites. Get up in the morning, have your delicious breakfast at Pina Balev, and within a 15 minutes’ drive you can enjoy the tranquillity and stunning views of flocks of cranes, coots, pelicans and other migrating birds, and animals, (according to seasonal variation) that migrate from Eastern Europe to Africa (in the fall) and go back north to Europe (in the spring). A heaven for bird watchers and those who love nature.

If you like challenges or a bit of an adventure, the Galilee has a lot to offer to individuals and families of all ages. A huge selection of activities from rafting and kayaks in the Jordan River, mountain bike riding in Biria Forest, lots of amazing hiking trails, and mountain climbing wall at Manara Cliff (a 20 minute drive from Pina Balev. You can alternatively take the cable car). The Galilee is one of Israel’s pearls of nature and as such it offers experiences of every possible kind.

If you like mystery and Kabbala, Safed (Zfat) is what we recommend. Not long ago, one day at midnight, on the grave of Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi (known as The Ari, the founder of the Lurianic Kabbalah in 16th century in Safed) the song and prayer “Lekha Dodi “was sung softly by a voice known to millions of people around the world. The singer was none other than Madonna.

In the lanes of Old Safed, one can experience the authentic architecture and ambience of the synagogue of the Arizal, Rabbi Isaac Abuhav, Rabbi Joseph Caro and others, or enjoy the many galleries of authentic Jewish art and the international Kabbalah Centre that conducts tours and lectures.

A short drive from Safed is the grave known as Zion Hakadosh (Holy Zion) Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and the graves of many righteous Jews. Then make your way back to your beautiful suite at Pina Balev in Old Rosh Pina via the unique landscape of Biriya Forest, passing by the grave of rabbinic sage Jonathan ben Uzziel and the ancient Nevoriah synagogue amongst other sites.

After an enjoyable day of touring, followed by Pina Balev’s hospitality, you can dine at one of the Galilee’s finest culinary establishments and taste the flavours of the Galilee. Muscat restaurant in Rosh Pina, Julian’s or any of dozens of wonderful restaurants are all at our door step.

To the east of Pina Balev’s luxury suites are the Golan Heights a short drive away. A fascinating nearby destination. Katzrin’s Archaeological Park, the Golan’s Antiquities Museum, the Golan Heights’ Winery and around ten boutique wineries that are open to the public and offer wine and cheese tasting. Just 45 minutes north of Katzrin are Birkat-Ram’s natural lake, Odem Forest, Druze villages on the slopes of Mount Hermon and Mount Hermon’s ski site.

Skiing on Mount Hermon or water-skiing in the Sea of Galilee, everything is possible. The northern shore of the Sea of Galilee is a 15 minute drive from Pina Balev, so it’s another option for a day out, after having the hearty breakfast at Pina Balev; the home-baked sourdough nut bread, homemade organic granola, a platter of fine cheeses, home-smoked salmon and more delights to look forward to.

En route to the Christian sites at the Sea of Galilee, you can visit Domus Galilaeae International Centre in Korazim which was established recently in fulfilment of Pope John Paul the Second’s dream. A few minutes away is the Byzantine floor mosaic with Egyptian elements in Tabgha (the site’s name is derived from the Greek name Heptapegon, seven springs). You can also visit Capernaum (Kfar Nahum) a town Jesus selected as the centre of his public ministry in the Galilee after he left the small mountainous hamlet of Nazareth (Matthew 4:12–17) before leaving to Jerusalem. A 15 minute drive takes you to Tiberius, with its antiquities and Roman baths.

You could end your trip at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth (half an hour’s drive from Tiberius), take a walk through the open market, enjoy some authentic hummus and end your meal with a cup of steaming Turkish coffee.

Rosh Pina offers also varied cultural experiences. There are the restored historical site and audio-visual show in the Cinematech (located within the historical silk factory building) which is the only movie theatre in the north of Israel that shows quality films on a daily basis. In the summertime, classical music in the Baron’s Garden, the music festival in Kfar-Blum (a 20 minute drive) and the poetry festival in Metulla (a 30 minute drive), the Jacob’s Ladder Festival, the Ein-Gev Festival (a 40 minute drive) and the Klezmer Festival in Safed (a 10 minute drive).

Kobi is always happy to sit with you in your luxurious suite in Pina Balev Inn and help you plan your itinerary, give you important tips that only the locals know, and provide you with discount vouchers for the various sites. Your perfect vacation begins in Pina Balev in Old Rosh Pina, with uncompromising quality, and if you don’t manage to fit in everything you planned this time, we’ll be waiting for you with open arms. The Galilee is full of surprises!

Written and edited by: Rina Offenbach, certified tour guide, for guided tours in Rosh Pina and its environs please call: 054-4243724

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