Rosh haNikra – Unique Sea Caves from Alexander the Great

Rosh haNikra is a cliff at the sea, right at the northern border of Israel towards Lebanon. The name means “head of the cave”. There are numerous impressive sea caves at the foot of the cliff, which may be reached by cable car. Map.

The longest cave is 200m long. The cliff consits of white chalk, and looks similar to the cliffs of Dover. The caves were formed by the work of the sea water, following fracture zones in the rock which are weaker than undisturbed rocks.

The cliffs were always a problem for travel and trade. The mountains ridge orbs a natural border, and so very early a tunnel was cut into the soft chalk.

Alexander of Macedonea (Alexander the Great) is credited for having hewed the first tunnel in 323 BC to create a passageway for his army after besieging Tyre. Later this road was used by the armies of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies.

In 1099 AD it was used by the Crusaders. In World War I the British Army built the first road, which as accessible to motor vehicles.

The latest and most impressive traffic route through the cliff was the Haifa-Beirut-Tripoli railway, which was built by the British during World War II. There were three tunnels, one on each side of the border and one crossing the border. The tunnel on the Israeli side may be visited. The railroad tracks are removed, but there is a sort of “tourist railroad”.

The caves are numerous interconnected branches totaling 200m. Formed by the work of the sea they are located around sea level at the foot of the cliff, and the only way to enter their natural entrance is with diving gear and rather dangerous. In 1968 a 400m long tunnel was opened to allow access to the caves.

  • Near Nahariyya, at the Mediterranean coast at the border to Lebanon.
  • Open:     JAN to APR daily 8:30-16. MAY to JUN daily 8:30-18. JUL to AUG daily 8:30-23. SEP to DEC daily 8:30-16.
  • Fee: Free
  • Classification:      Sea cave
  • Dimension:     L=200m.
  • Mitzpe Rosh Hanikra, D.N. Galil Ma’aravi, 22825 Israel
  • Tel: 972-4-9857108, Fax: 972-4-9857107
  • Map.

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