The Horns of Hattin are two peaks of an extinct volcano in the Lower Galilee overlooking the Hattin plains. From the mountain peaks, there are stunning views across the Sea of Galilee, Mount Tabor, and Mount Arbel. On the northern slopes are the ruins of the Talmudic Period village of Hittya. Remains on the southern “horn” have been associated with the biblical Canaanite or Israelite town of Adamah (Joshua 19:32-6). The valley below the Horns of Hattin is best known as the site of the Battle of Hattin fought between Saladin and the Crusaders in 1187.
The Battle of Hattin
In 1099 Crusaders captured Jerusalem from the Islamic Caliphate and dreamed of establishing a Christian “Kingdom of Jerusalem.” They ruled the Holy Land for almost 100 years before the Muslim leader Saladin made it his mission to rid the Holy Land of Crusaders. On July 4th, 1187, Saladin had his troops cut off the Crusaders’ access to the Sea of Galilee, leaving them no water supply.
It was the height of summer, and Saladin ordered the dry grass of the Hattin plains set alight. The Crusaders were trapped by the fire, summer heat, and overwhelming strength of Saladin’s army. The momentous battle changed the course of history. The Crusaders carried the true cross of Christ into battle to protect them. But not only did they lose the battle they also lost the true cross.
Tradition holds that when news of the loss reached the Vatican the Pope died of sorrow. This battle led to the Crusaders’ loss of control over the Holy Land until the third Crusade four years later. The Battle of Hattin is depicted in the film “Kingdom of Heaven.” Saladin built a victory dome on the overlooking cliffs. Every year on the anniversary of the famous battle, a group called the Jerusalem Kingdom, gathers for a three-day reenactment of the battle.
The Horns of Hattin as a Biblical Site
19th-century pilgrims considered the Horns of Hattin the place where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount. Many Protestants still believe the Horn of Harrin to be the site of Jesus’ famous speech rather than the Mount of Beatitudes on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was only after the construction of the Church of the Beatitudes on the traditional site, that pilgrims stopped visiting the Horns of Hattin.
Visiting the Horns of Hattin
Today the hill is a national park, and accessible via a dirt road from route 77, the Tiberias-Golani road. You can see the two “horns” from a distance and as you approach the northern foothills there is a large Druze shrine complex built on the site of the Tomb of Nebi Shu’ayb. This is believed to be the burial site of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. The site is one of the most sacred Druze sites in the Holy Land. A visit to the Horns of Hattin can also be arranged as part of the private Galilee tour.