Nahariya is located in Israel’s Western Galilee, just a few miles south of the Lebanese border. The town was established in 1935 on land that had been purchased from a Lebanese landowner. The original buyers envisioned this town as an agricultural settlement but it was not a good match and it almost immediately became a small industrial town.
Nahariya – A Brief History
As German Jews fled Nazi Germany many of the refugees settled in this small coastal settlement, giving it the European flavor that it still imparts today. The “pension” hotels of the beachfront and the open-air cafes of the main town owe their existence to the German settlers who brought their hard work ethic and their culture to their new town.
This seaside location made it a natural debarkation point where the pre-State Palmach could bring in boats of European refugees after World War II. One of the Palmach’s biggest successes, the Hannah Senesh ship, delivered over 200 Holocaust refugees to Palestine by eluding the British patrol boats and beaching just off the coast. Palmachniks, local kibbutzniks and its citizens waded into the frigid waters of the December Mediterranean sea to ferry the refugees to land and help them disperse in the town and amongst the neighboring settlements.
A few years later residents of this small town again absorbed hundreds of new immigrants from the local tent camp which had been set up outside of its borders. The new refugees from North Africa, Europe and Arab countries integrated into this seaside destination, creating the diverse community that exists today.
The Leiberman Museum, located off Road 4 near the Hatzafon Mall, displays numerous documents, papers, photographs and letters of correspondence that trace the history of these and other episodes of Israel’s and its history. The museum is located in one of the first Nahariya homes and displays furnishings from the era as well as well as exhibits that testify to the important part that it has played throughout Israel’s history.
History buffs have two other interesting points that they can visit while in this area. The Municipality near the corner of Hertzel and HaGa’aton Streets exhibits a wide range of Bronze-Age implements that date back to the era when the Phoenicians sailed their ships up and down the coast of the Mediterranean. The finds include ceremonial serveware which, archaeologist believe, indicates that the area was populated by a cultish sect. The display is on the 6th floor of the Municipality building.
Another unique find attests to a Christian presence in the Western Galilee well before the arrival of the Crusaders. A Byzantine-era Church is not fenced in and is open to the public at all times in the Katzenelson neighborhood, near the Katzenelson school and park. The church was built in approximately the 6th century A.D. and features a large and complex floor mosaic that probably represents the type of life that the residents of the region lived at that time. The mosaic shows hunting and domestic scenes alongside images of birds and other animals.
Another leisure activity for kids and adults alike involves a visit to the Nahariya Botanical and Zoological Gardens on Ben-Gaon Street in the Rassco neighborhood. The gardens, which include indigenous plant life of the Western Galilee, frame the walkways of the zoological park which has numerous enclosures of South American, African and Australian animals. There is also an extensive reptile collection in the Reptile House and a petting zoo for children. The zoo has set aside a craft corner where children can create memories of their visit by making their own crafts.
For many people, the highlight of a vacation to this area is a visit to the beach. During the daytime the Promenade and Galei Galil beaches are staffed with lifeguards for safe swimming. Both beaches have clean showers, restrooms and changing rooms along with kiosks. The local municipality maintains clean, well-kept beaches with shallow, sandy areas that are perfect for families with children. Many visitors enjoy dining in the restaurants along the Promenade beach where they can gaze out on the Mediterranean scenery as they eat their meals. Children can play in the large park area at the southern tip of the Promenade beachfront with dozens of climbing toys, swings and other playground equipment.