The En Afek Nature Reserve is a preserve of swampland and waterway sources the majority of which have been lost in Israel. Around the swamp is a boardwalk pathway over a swamp surrounded by rich riverbank vegetation and colorful water birds.
Points of Interest
- The Ancient Flour Mill – an impressive two-storey structure, with foundations that were built in the Roman period, the majority of its remains being from the Crusader period
- Exhibit and Short Movie – a permanent display of traditional agricultural tools, a short movie on the En Afek Nature Reserve and changing art exhibitions
- Tel Afek – an archaeological Tel in the southern part of the Nature Reserve, containing remains of settlements from many periods.
- A Garden Shelter for Endangered Plants – a garden for the cultivation of endangered plants. The plants were brought to this place from areas about to be developed along Nahal Na’aman, and were planted here in beds simulating natural habitats.
- The Swamp Pathway – an exciting walkway giving visitors a chance to “walk on the water” and to enjoy the appearance of the swamp from the water birds’ point of view
- The Ancient Flour Mill – flour mills have been in existence along Nahal Na’aman since the early Muslim period (8th century CE). A large dam, 625 m. long, blocked the stream, creating a lake behind it. The waters of the lake were directed by a channel to the water wheel that operated the mill stones.
After the Crusaders conquered Haifa and Akko (1104 CE), the region became a center for the cultivation of cereals and sugar cane. The Crusaders fortified the structure of the flour mill and built a fort which protected the site. Parts of the impressive two-storey structure were built in the Roman period, and significant parts, mainly on the ground floor, are from the Crusader period. The flour mill was built as a fortified structure in the format of flour mills that were common in Europe in the Middle Ages. The structure is almost square, built of large stones with diagonal chiseling cuts typical of the Crusaders. Some of the stones have chiseler’s marks cut into them.
- The structure was renovated in the Ottoman period (18th century), during the time of Dahar al-Amar and Ahmed al-Jezzar. The mill also provided flour for Napoleon’s army when he besieged Akko in 1799. At the end of the Ottoman period, the mill and the surrounding areas were the property of the Sursuk family, who were living in Beirut, and the building was rented to people from Shfar’am. The defense position on the roof is made of concrete and was built in 1936.
- Exhibit and Short Movie – there is a permanent exhibit of traditional agricultural tools in the flour mill. Visitors are invited to view the movie, which follows a drop of water on its journey around the Nature Reserve. From time to time, different art exhibitions are shown in the flour mill.
- Tel Afek – an archaeological Tel at the southern part of the Nature Reserve. Archeological digs exposed remains of human settlement from the Canaanite, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
- A Garden Shelter for Endangered Plants – a garden where endangered plants are cultivated. The plants were moved here from areas about to be developed along Nahal Na’aman and were planted in beds simulating natural habitats.