Last week, during Chol HaMoed Sukkot, my father and I took a little trip over to Achziv, a small national park preserving ruins and a little section of tide pools and beach. Despite living here for over four years now, we have never really found this place. There is another beach a bit south which is called Achziv (Banana Beach) and then there is the Betzet Beach a bit north that is open and free all the way up to Rosh HaNikra – where we usually go for a pleasant trip to the Mediterranean Sea.
Achziv is the end of the Nachal Kziv (Kziv Stream) which runs from Mount Meron to the Mediterranean, just north of the Achziv park. The Achziv site includes ruins from numerous eras including the Canaanite, Biblical Jewish, Phoenician and Arab. A coastal city, Achziv was utilised by many civiliasations and empires, focusing on its location between Akko and Tyre – both ancient coastal cities.
In the Crusader era (possibly my favourite era of ancient times), in 1104, a fortress was built and called “Casal Humberti”, designed to protect the coastal road leading down to Akko, which was, for a period, the Crusader capital in the Holy Land. A stone tablet with Christian symbols found onsite is now on display at the Louvre in France. In 1256, the Achziv region was leased to the Teutonic Knights who commanded the nearby Montfort, the castle near my house.
Later, during the Mamluk and Ottoman eras, a village called El-Zeeb was founded and sometime during this time, the above mosque was built. Achziv, or to be more precise, the bridge over the stream just north, saw action in 1946 when the Israeli resistance group, the Palmach, attempted to blow up the bridge in efforts to isolate Israel and prevent neighbouring and the local British armies from advancing and receiving reinforcements by rail. With fourteen Palmach members killed, the Achziv bridge was the only failure in the “Night of the Bridges” operation.
After passing the ruins, we descended to the water and climbed onto the rocks leading to the tide pools and rock shelves. The water was cool and the rocks were uber-grippy, the porous texture a safe surface for walking. However, the rough, craggy rock is very sharp and so falling is ill-advised.
Looking back at the calm swimming area – or shall I say, lagoon – there was a pleasant blend of warm shallow water, soft sand and ancient stone ruins on the shore that makes Achziv Beach quite picturesque:
I scoured the tide pools looking for sea creatures, hoping to find an octopus in particular. Back when we lived in Miami, my father and I took a little trip to the west coast of Florida and I found a small octopus hiding in a conch shell – it was a very cool experience. As I scoured and climbed about, large waves periodically attacked me, dousing me with cool seawater.
I found no octopuses, but did pry a little sea snail from a smooth underwater rock. Here I am, crouching in the rocks, inspecting the little marine gastropod:
Thankfully, this snail was a bold little bugger and he came out of his shell, waving his feelers about – or are they eyestalks? I know land snails and some sea snails have eyestalks, although with this particular snail the shorter appendages on the sides of his “face” look more like functioning eyes – many someone who knows can share his/her knowledge in the comments below.
After a little photoshoot with the compliant snail, I replaced him – giving him a great home where he would not be stepped on – and we left the rocks. We explored the ruins, as photographically displayed above, and got back in the car for the next trip location – Arak Masada, a small arak factory in the Christian village of Mi’ilya, just minutes away from my house. That post is next, stay tuned.
A special thanks to Avi Kessner for a little CS5 touch-up.