Ermak Travel Guide

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Aphek (Afek, Pegai, Antipatris)

Aphek Tower and Walls

The city of Aphek or Afek is located 15 km from Tel Aviv on a road 483. Its name is derived from a Hebrew word for "springs" as it was the main strategic feature of the town. As many cities in Israel Aphek has long continuous history of occupation by different people and different empires. This strategic location guarded narrow passage of the Yarkon River valley. It is no surprise that Aphek is also mentioned in the Old Testament as well as New Testament. Ruins here date from yearly Copper Age to well preserved castle of the Ottomans.

 

 

 

Location: 15 km (10 mi) from Tel Aviv    Map

 

 

 

History of Aphek (Afek)

The first Aphek (Afek) settlements date back to Chalcolithic period (Copper Age). During Bronze age it was already one of the first fortified cities in the region spreading over territory of 30 acres. The first time the city is mentioned is found in the Egyptian documents dating back to the second millennium BC. During the Iron Age a battle was fought between Israelites and Philistines that was mentioned in the book of Samuel (I Samuel 4). “… and the Philistines pitched in Aphek for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. And the ark of God was taken (by Philistines)”. Here Philistines gathered their troops for the upcoming battle that they won, but that victory was short lived. David’s victory over Philistines gave Israelites the city in the early tenth century.

Greeks who conquered the region in the 4th century BC renamed the city to Pegai which means “springs” after source of Yarkon River nearby. King Herod the Great renamed the city to Antipatris after his father. He undertook massive reconstruction of the city. Archaeologists discovered city's Cardo, the main street of the Aphek with small shops lining both sides. With the arrival of the Romans the city grew and acquired more Greco- Roman appearance with roads and structures build here. Antipatris is mentioned in the New Testament when Paul on his was to prison in Caesarea stops here with his guards to rest. So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris” (Books of Acts 23:31 ). The road apostle traveled is still well preserved and easily visible.

 

 

Aphek contained a Jewish fortress with a small garrison of Jewish defenders that tried to keep the city free of Roman influence. Jewish Revolt failed in 70 AD and the fortress was swiftly stormed and captured by the Roman legions. The city was destroyed in 363 AD by an earthquake. The strategic place did not lay abandoned for long. Crusaders constructed their fortifications that they called "Migdal Aphek" (Tower of Aphek). Subsequent Ottoman armies increased and strengthened the walls of Aphek citadel in the 16th century.

Today Aphek (Afek) is famous for its historic and archaeological importance. Yet, it is also a beautiful nature reserve that became official in 1979.

 

 

Egyptian Governor’s Gesidence

 

Egyptian governor's residence was build during Bronze Age (1550- 1200 BC). This is one of the best preserved structures in Aphek or Afek Archeological Site. This structure served as a private residence of the Egyptian governor, who played an important political role in the region. The very fact that the governor chose this site as a place of residence suggest that Aphek (Afek) at the time was one of the largest and protected citadels in the region. Archaeologists discovered scrolls written in cuneiform script inside the residence.

 

 

 

 

Ottoman Turkish Castle

 

Aphek (Afek) Castle was build by Ottoman Turkish sultan Salim II. It is called Binar Bashi or a “spring top” as a reference to nearby springs. Aphek Castle was constructed between 1571 and 1573. Aphek (Afek) fortress protected Cairo- Damascus highway that served the traders and pilgrims alike. The garrison of the fortress consisted of 100 horsemen and 30 foot soldiers. It is one best preserved structures of this archeological site.

 

Crusader Medieval Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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