points of interest in details:
The Nature and Parks Authority has taken action to preserve the biological diversity in the reserve, while eradicating some invasive plants growing there, among them the margoza tree, the silver poplar and the castor bush.
The Authority monitors the quality of the water in the reserve, especially the unique exotic habitats created there due to the range of water qualities and its constant low temperature.
In 2010 the Authority developed the "hanging trail" walking route, above the rushing flow of water, which enhances the visitor's experience at the place.
Recently, the Authority, jointly with the Antiquities Authority, executed preservation works in the Crusader city of Banyas, among them preserving the southern Crusader gate and opening the gate house to visitors.
Along the stream grow Oriental plane trees and the common willow, and on the slope there are oak trees, Officinal Storax ("Snowdrop bush"), and a variety of Mediterranean woodlands and scrub plants that change with the seasons. The glory of Nahal Hermon is its river-bank woodland, the principal trees of which are the Oriental plane tree, the common willow, the Syrian ash tree (Fraxinus syriaca) and the European nettle tree also known as the Mediterranean hackberry (Celtis australis).Plane trees and willows are typical of streams that flow all year round. The plane tree is easily identified by its large hand-shaped leaves that drop off in winter, and its spherical, long-haired fruit. The most prominent trees in the reserve are the Oriental plane tree, reaching up to 15 meters high, and the willow whose red-hued roots are often exposed. The Syrian ash tree also grows alongside streams, and can be recognized by the serrated edges of its leaves. At the end of winter and in spring, the cliff above the Pan shrine is covered with an abundance of Maltese Cross Ricotia (Ricotia lunaria), Hyacinth Squil (Scilla hyancinthoides) and a multitude of other spring flowers - rich cliff vegetation that exploits every nook and cranny. Here are the spreading pellitory (Parietaria judaica), the intermediate navelwort (Umbilicus intermedius) and ferns, such as the scaly spleenwort (Ceterach officinarum), the Welsh polypody (Polypodium cambricum), the rigid buckler fern (Dryopteris villarii) (a rare species) and the lip fern (Cheilanthes Vellea). In the waterfall area carpets of blue lupines and common cyclamen can be seen. In autumn the amaryllis (Vagaria parviflora) and various species of crocus are in bloom. Some trees planted by humans grow in the nature reserve, among them the silver poplar and certain orchard trees. The spring area is rich in water plants: hairy willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), brook pimpernel (Veronica anagallis-aquatica), branched bur-reed (Sparganium erectum) (a very rare species) and the common reed. Other vegetation grows on the slopes above the channel, far from the effect of the flowing water. Here we can find typical representatives of the Mediterranean woodlands: the common oak, the terebinth (Pistacia terebinthus), the Mount Tavor oak (Quercus ithaburensis), the snowdrop bush (Officinal Storax) and the laurel tree.
The Greek god Pan, after whom the place was named - Panyas (in Arabic: Banyas) - was ritually worshipped in the region of the nature reserve. At the front of the Banyas cave there are remains of a temple built by King Herod in honor of the god Pan.Close to the Banyas spring, a broad staircase rises to the Banyas cave. Five niches carved out of the cliff next to the cave are the remains of a shrine built by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC in honor of the god. The Greek god Pan - half man and half goat - was the god of rural areas, shepherds and their flocks. He lived in caves, where his rituals took place, and he was known to play a reed flute.At the front of the cave are the remains of the impressive white marble temple built here by King Herod. Herod's son and heir, Philip II, established a city which he named Caesarea Philippi, in order to distinguish it from Caesarea Maritima, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. In his time the city flourished and gained an important status - coins were minted there, temples, bath-houses, theaters and other public buildings were built. In the Byzantine and Muslim periods the city declined in status. No findings have been found of these periods. In the period of the Crusades a fortress was built at Banyas, the remains of which were found at archaeological digs. In this period Banyas passed a number of times between the Crusaders and the Muslims until Nur-a-Din conquered it in 1164.A Mamluk village was built on the ruins of the Crusader castle. The rural settlement of Banyas continued to exist until the 20th century and was abandoned in the 6-Day War. One of the most significant events of Christianity took place at Banyas: this is where Petros Simon received from Jesus the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, which are the symbol of the Vatican (Matthew XVII, 13-20), and that is why the Banyas is a place of pilgrimage for Christians from all over the world.
The majority of the Crusader Castle at Banyas has been exposed, including gate towers, a shopping area, vaults, a cemetery, a moat and corners of the walls. Downstream there are ancient flour mills and Roman and Crusader architectural remains.Archaeological digs have been conducted at the foot of the cliff next to the Banyas cave. The digs exposed the important ritual site at Banyas, including impressive remains of the temple. In the vicinity of the Banyas cave, buildings from the first century BC were found, among them diamond-shaped stones, called Opus Reticulatus. Above these are the remains of a white building, Nebi Hader, which is one of the names of the Prophet Elijah.Archaeology buffs will also find interest in the Crusader remains at Banyas, containing the castle, the city gate, the moat and a corner of the wall, as well as in the site of the vaults, which is in fact a street from the Roman period, and shops from the Crusader period. Recently, as part of its effort to conserve archaeological sites within the Nature and Parks Authority sites, preservation works have been performed by the Antiquities Authority, which included stabilization of the internal walls of the southern Crusader gatehouse and the internal entrance gate, as well as blocking the external gate passage towards the south and preservation of the western room façade.A public building that was built at the beginning of the first century BC was also uncovered at the archaeological site. The building covered more than 2,000 sq.m., and was one of the largest and most magnificent in Israel. Researchers believe that it was the palace of Agrippas II.
The unique geology of the reserve consists of basalt, limestone and travertine, thus creating the basis for the development of unique habitats for a variety of plant formations. The bottom of the cliff from which the Banyas spring flows is formed of very hard grey limestone containing an abundance of shiny calcite crystals. Up the cliff the rock turns red, due to its iron oxide content, and it is porous and rich in fossils. At the meeting point between the two types of rocks, part of the opening of the cave collapsed in an earthquake that apparently occurred in 1033, and the water that used to flow from the cave broke through at the bottom of the cliff. That was the beginning of Nahal Hermon. Today the spring water flows into three artificial pools, until it meets the Guvta stream after a few hundred meters. From there the stream flows into Nahal Sa'ar, and continues along a "lithological boundary".
Nahal Hermon drains the southern slopes of Mt. Hermon and the northern Golan, among them the streams known as Nahal Sa'ar, Si'on and Guvta, Pera and En Hilweh. Most of the water rise as springs at the foot of the Banyas cave, and they flow at low temperatures, around 15 degrees C, throughout the year. Nahal Hermon starts out at the foot of the Hermon mountain. This large mountain absorbs the rain and snow, which percolate through the limestone until they break out at the bottom as springs that form the Jordan river: the Dan, Hermon (Banyas) and Snir (Hatsbani). The annual flow volume of the Hermon stream is 125 million cu.m. (most of the water in the Jordan). The streams Sa'ar, Sion and Guvta, Pera and En Hilweh, all drain into Nahal Hermon, but most of the water comes from the springs at the bottom of the Banyas cave. The stream descends 190 meters along a 3.5 km. channel in a strong flow that enables the water to eat into the rock and create a gorge, rapids and waterfalls. The range of water qualities, height differences and the twists and turns in the water channel, as well as the constant low temperature of the water - about 15 degrees C - contribute to the creation of a unique habitat of rich vegetation and varied animal life.