After more than two months of army duty, having completed basic training and already well into the driving course, my fellow soldiers and I were treated to a “break from the schedule” and enjoyed a day trip to the Ramat HaNadiv memorial park. The trip was intended to give us a taste of driving on unfamiliar roads as well as providing us with a little bit of fun, tied in with history and education. With each driving instructor giving each of his soldiers a turn at the wheel, we took a really long and roundabout way to Ramat HaNadiv (coming from the Haifa area). I drove a nice hour-long stretch and then handed the wheel over to the next soldier. When we, at last, arrived to the park, there was a BBQ going and we were given a brief explanation of the site by our immediate commanding officer. After that we were released into the park to explore and enjoy while the food preparation finished up.
As we walked through the park we took group pictures and individual pictures, posing in the well-maintained gardens. Had I known about this trip when I was last at home I would have made sure to bring a camera but the trip was spontaneous (at least from our side) and I was forced to engaged in photography with a 5-MP phone camera – some of the pictures coming out remarkably well.
To give a little background about the site, Ramat HaNadiv is a small nature park just outside of Zichron Yaakov established as a memorial gardens for the Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and his wife, who were both buried in a crypt on location in 1954. The Baron and his wife had been previously buried in Paris in 1934 and 1935, respectively, but were re-interred in Israel on land purchased by them some time before. Ramat HaNadiv translates into “Heights of the Benefactor”, an ode to the Baron’s nickname which was earned through many years of donations and assistance to the Jewish settlers during the first few Aliyahs.
The Baron Rothschild is the same baron as the one who was instrumental in founding Rosh Pina, a town established in 1882 beside Tzfat (blog post about Rosh Pina, mentioning the Baron, found here).
One of the things that makes Ramat HaNadiv a unique place is the variety of flora, of all different varieties. It was told to us towards the tail end of our walk that Ramat HaNadiv contains the largest amount of endangered plant species in all of Israel.
Mid-way we came across a sign to “The Crypt” and followed it. There we found an impressive stone courtyard with narrow pools of koi fish and outside a handful of us posed, myself not included:
And a view of inside the courtyard:
Once through the heavy doors, I entered the crypt and walked down to the burial room where the remains of the Baron and his wife are now held:
Emerging from the underground cavern, I branched off from the group with two friends and began to explore more, despite the constant update that the food was ready and everyone was heading back to eat. In the end I’d say that our actions paid off as we got to see a larger portion of the gardens and ended eating as well when we finally got back to the picnic grounds. There was even a family of mongoose that ventured out of the bushes to examine us and our victuals. Back in the park, here is the Cascade Garden:
As we continued on, just after the Fragrance Garden, we bumped into an elderly gardener who noticed we were speaking English. He introduced himself as Sydney and gave us a thorough lecture on the water absorption complications of the ficus tree. An experienced gardener, having decades of horticultural experience under his belt, Sydney filled our minds with interesting facts and tidbits, sharing some of his knowledge with us.
Had we had more time at our disposal I would have liked to have heard more about the site, but at last he told us that we should be on our way and so I promised that if I come back I’d have to snare him into giving me a tour. Looking at the Wikipedia page about Ramat HaNadiv I see that there are several archaeological digs that I missed and those demand to be seen!
Until next time, whenever and wherever that may be!