‘En Prat is a layer spring, exposed as the Prat Stream dug itself down into the area’s hard limestone, creating a cliff. The spring’s flow-rate is almost constant year-round, with an average annual daily flow of approximately 1,500 cubic meters.
The salt content of the springs is very low; indeed, until 1970 they provided water to the eastern and northern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The water is currently not potable due to possible pollution. Near the source of the spring is a pumping and purification station, built in 1927, to which the water of En Mabo‘a (En Fawwar) was channeled in 1931, to supply Jerusalem with water. After a short interruption following Jerusalem’s link to the Yarkon Springs water supply, pumping was renewed, providing Jerusalem with 15% of its water. During the Jordanian period, the lower spring, En Qelt, was also linked to the system.
Flora and fauna
The special location of En Prat in the area between the mountaintops to the west and the Jordan Valley to the east has created a special variety of plants and animals. Among them are riparian and aquatic plants, including true watercress, pennyroyal, toad rush, clammy inula, oleander, narrow-leaved reedmace and common reed. Trees shade the stream including Christ-thorn, among which grow red acacia strap-flowers, a parasite that also grows on the fig trees sprouting from the center of the streambed. Salt-wort and capers are also to be found. Gray shrikes can be seen skewering the occasional lizard, while gazelles and foxes can sometimes be spied quenching their thirst at the spring, where crabs flourish.
Meanwhile, conies scamper among the rocks and brazen jackdaws call and swoop overhead. Seasonal wildflowers bloom from the canyon walls, among them asphodel and sea squill, with winter bringing delicate cyclamens, poppies, anemones and dwarf-stars.
Near the pump house, the British forestry department planted a eucalyptus grove during the British Mandate era, assuming correctly that the area would become popular for recreation. Over the years, local residents and shepherds planted trees that grew to shade the area and make it as pleasant as it now is.
The well-marked trail to the spring begins within the Israeli community of Anatot, established in 1982 and named after an ancient site located in the area. It continues along the southern cliff of the streambed, skirting the orchards of the Firan monastery. The trail leads visitors to the entrance to the monastery. After interesting time spent there, continue down to En Prat itself, along the streambed to the eastern dam, which is the boundary of the part of the reserve open to visitors. On the northeastern stream bank is a large archaeological mound containing remains from the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age, the period of the settlement of the land by the Israelite tribes. The streambed runs through the biblical allocation to the tribe of Benjamin.
The Firan Monastery
The monastery was built in the fourth century CE by the hermit-monk Haritoun (and is also called by his name), who disseminated Christianity in the desert during the Byzantine era. He dedicated the monastery to Makarius, bishop of Jerusalem in his day. The monastery was restored in the 19th century by the White Russian Church. Part of it is built over the Byzantine monastery; some of the rooms and chapels are built around caves in which the first monks lived. At the heart of the monastery is the traditional tomb of Haritoun. Legend says that he built the monastery on this spot became he was miraculously saved after being brought here by highway robbers who imprisoned him in a cave. The monastery is surrounded by orchards, agricultural terraces and cisterns, as well as the remains of buildings that once housed pilgrims, revealing its importance on the ancient pilgrims’ route.
Visiting hours at the monastery: Monday-Saturday 8 A.M.-11 A.M.; 1 P.M.-3 P.M. Modest dress required; no weapons allowed. Although within the boundaries of the reserve, the monastery is independent of it.
The Pump House
The building has been restored and is now a visitors center housing the reserve offices, an information and guiding center, a lecture and display room and a library in memory of six people killed by terrorists at the Prat Stream. There are also toilets and a food service area in the building.
How to get there:
From Jerusalem’s French Hill intersection, take the road to Pisgat Ze’ev. Pass the Hizmeh checkpoint and continue east on road 437 to Almon (Anatot). Enter the community, turn immediately south onto an unpaved road for about 500 m, which turns into a paved road. Caution: drive slowly, the road has many turns.
Length of tour: 1 hour
Don't miss:A visit to the monastery
Other facilities and attractions: year-round flowing spring, special animals, an active monastery
Hours:April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M- 4 P.M.
Fridays and holiday eves the reserve closes one hour earlier than above.
To order a guided group tour:
Mountain and Valley Education Center, phone/fax 02-654-1255; firstname.lastname@example.org
Last entry one hour before above closing hour
Phone:(cashier) 057-893-6708; (shop) 057-893-6709
Entrance fee:Adult: NIS 29; child NIS 15;
Israeli senior citizen: NIS 15
Group (over 30 people): Adult NIS 23; child NIS 14