Gan HaShlosha National Park is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Israel. It is much more than a park, with its abundance of water gushing over a series of waterfalls into natural pools where you can swim, and expansive lawns shaded by tall trees. Gan HaShlosha National Park is located in northern Israel, at the foot of Mount Gilboa in the Beit She’an Valley. The park opened in 1958, ten years after the establishment of the State of Israel. Landscape architects Lipa Yahalom, Zvi Bahir, and Dan Tzur turned ancient ruins into the oasis it is today by planting thick vegetation and an assortment of trees around the pools. The dense gardens include ornamental trees, fig, olive, and carob trees. The park’s curious name “Gan HaShlosha” or “Park of the Three” is in memory of three local pioneers who were killed in 1938 when their car drove over a landmine.
Sahna Hot Water Springs
The essence of Gan HaShlosha is the abundance of water that originates in the Samaria Mountains east of Mount Gilboa. The water flows east beneath the ground where it reaches temperatures of 28°C (82°F) before emerging in the eastern part of the park. This explains the Arabic name for the park – Sahne or “hot” as you can enjoy the warm naturally-heated spring water pools year-round. The spring water accumulates in a natural pool then cascades over picturesque waterfalls into two pools that were created by widening the Amal Stream that runs for 500m through the park. The pools are fringed by vegetation and shaded by a canopy of trees.
Attractions at Gan HaShlosha National Park
The main attraction of Gan HaShlosha is the river, waterfalls, and pools. You can laze in the warm water, get a natural massage by standing under the stream of the waterfalls, or catch some sun on the lawn enjoying the lush gardens. The park has an archaeological museum, with two sections – the Museum of Regional and Mediterranean Archaeology and a reconstructed Tower & Stockade pioneer settlement. The Tel Amal Tower & Stockade was one of the first Jewish pre-state settlements, established in 1936. Visitors can see the reconstructed dwellings, a watchtower, and stockade where gravel was stored. Other attractions include a restored water-driven flour mill and the remains of a naumachia or Roman water theater where the audience would sit in rock-hewn seats watching recreations of famous sea battles performed on the stream. The park’s Settlement Bell Garden has a display of restored bells from pioneer settlement sites. These bells would have been rung by the watchmen to warn settlers of danger, to call to prayer, or to signify the end of the workday. Gan HaShlosha is home to the Israeli Orchard where you can see specimens of trees mentioned in the Bible including pomegranate and figs.
Visiting Gan HaShlosha
Facilities within Gan HaShlosha National Park include barbecue stations, picnic tables, changing rooms, bathrooms, and a snack bar. Despite being far from Tel Aviv, Gan HaShlosha attracts crowds, especially on summer weekends when the park’s charm is lost among the hordes and a smog of barbecue smoke hangs in the air. Luckily music and ball games are prohibited in the park. It is better to visit in the off-season, not on a school holiday or religious holidays and if possible, visit on a weekday. No matter when you visit this idyllic park it will take your breath away with its natural beauty.