Ein Hemed – Aqua Bella
The Aqua Bella – Ein Hemed National Park, run by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, is located on the path of an old Roman road, which was still in use after the Crusader period. The road connected the coastal plain with the Jerusalem hills. During Roman times the springs were known as Aqua Bella – Beautiful Water or Ein Hemed in Hebrew (literally Pleasant Spring.)
In the Ein Hemed park, four springs issue from the riverbed and nearby caves, and unite into a flow of water which continues for about 400 meter. Several dams have been built, creating shallow pools. The Nature and Parks Authority has installed picnic tables, toilets, and faucets. As a result, this is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day – or after lunch in Abu Gosh.
The Crusaders set up farms at Ein Hemed using the spring water for irrigation. Impressive ruins of a 30 x 40 meter Crusader structure, the southern wall of which survives to a height of 12 meters, are located on the north site of the riverbed. The building has several gates and two arched halls.
The inhabitants of the region attributed magical powers to the spring waters – virility, and ensuring the birth of a male child. In the past, Jews used the spring water as an ingredient for baking matza shmura (very very kosher unleavened bread for Passover).
Today, Jews from Jerusalem still come to Ein Hemed to perform the tashlich ceremony (a symbolic casting of sins into the water) before Yom Kippur.
For more details – see Ein Hemed National Park
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