After more than a decade of conservation work, The Migdal Tzedek massive Crusader fortress in central Israel is open to the public. The fortress is located at the top of a hill, overlooking the “Afek Passage,” used by passers-by on the ancient sea road.
“The fortress was demolished during the 19th century. Salah-al-Din’s brother demolished it when he withdraws from Karney Hitin area. His army demolished numerous Christians monuments, and this is one of them. The fortress is telling the story of the land of Israel during different periods”, reveals Uri Kaiser, of Israel Nature and Parks Authority. “Numerous findings were spotted here, including the crusaders’ moat. 7 meters deep in the fortress, including a crusaders street, 4 meters deep”, he says.
Migdal Tzedek National Park is a green lung in the center of the country. Spaces of nature and landscape are to be found, however much work is still needed to complete this impressive park. For years, the inside of the fortress has been fenced off to the public amid safety concerns that large stones could break off or ceilings could collapse. Now the site is safe, including a visitor center and a coffee shop.
This crusader castle was described in Muslim sources in 1225 as a village called Majdal Yaba. In the 17th century, the village was taken over by the Rayyān family who arrived from Transjordan and built a two-story manor house. The ruins of the manor house, among which remains of the Crusader castle are today called Migdal Tsedek, which means “Tower of Sadek” in Hebrew, referring to the name of its Sheikh Sadek Al Rayyan. A lintel over an entrance that was used by the local sheikh as a stable and fodder storage room.
During World War I, Migdal Afek was the site of battles between the Axis troops, (forces of the Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian empires) and the British army.
Centuries of heritage in this exiting Park are now for all to explore.