Gamla is an ancient Jewish city on the Golan Heights. It was fortified during the time of the Great Revolt of the 1st century CE and is known as the Masada of the North. As a site it is less well preserved than Masada and it really does resemble its name (Gamal = camel) – a humped hill set between two peaks.
Gamla had been inhabited since the Early Bronze Age. It is regarded as a symbol of heroism for the modern state of Israel and an important historical and archaeological site. It currently resides within the Gamla Nature Reserve and is a prominent tourist attraction.
Gamla was one of the five cities in the Galilee and Golan that stood against the Roman legions. At the time of the revolt, the town minted its own coins, probably more as a means of propaganda than as currency.
In 2003, the territory of Gamla was incorporated into the Gamla Nature Reserve (more on this in the article), and tourists can now visit it.
Occasionally, pilgrims hold bar mitzvahs in the ancient Gamla synagogue.
Gamla Nature Reserve
The Gamla Nature Reserve perches high on the Golan Heights. It is also an archaeological site. It is a magical and wonderful place especially for lovers of nature, hiking, and history.
The nature reserve stretches along two streams, Gamla and Daliot. It boasts a combination of natural and archaeological attractions.
It is worth visiting to view the nesting griffon vultures which are magnificent and a favorite with children. This is definitely a place for the long lenses and tripods on the camera. For sure, the nature reserve will be a picture-pretty paradise for both amateur and professional photographers!
Other sites and attractions on this nature reserve include a memorial monument (which is dedicated to the Jewish settlers in the Golan Heights who were killed during the Israeli wars) and a Byzantine-period village (built during the 4th to 7th century CE and known by its Arabic name, Deir Qeruh).
Israel’s highest waterfall is also in this reserve. A 90-minute trail stretches from the entrance of the nature reserve to the waterfall. As you pass by the trail, you can see dolmens — stone structures that are shaped like tablets — along the way. Once you reach the waterfall, you’ll be awe-struck at how really high it is — at 170 feet (51 meters). However, the waterfall dries up during the summer and autumn.
You can explore further, but, most of Gamla’s attractions can be visited along a fairly accessible (for wheelchairs and strollers) cliff top promenade. The visit to the site itself is interesting, but requires a fairly strenuous walk back up the hill.
Getting To Gamla
On road 808
Gamla Nature Reserve information
April to September – 8:00 to 17:00
October to March – 8:00 to 16:00
Last entry to the site – one hour before the above closing hour.
Adult – NIS 25
Children – NIS 13
Israeli senior citizens – 50% discount
Groups – Adult, NIS 21; child, NIS 12