Banias is an ancient city which developed around a spring. In ancient mythology it is associated with the Greek god Pan. The spring is situated at the foot of Mount Hermon north of the Golan Heights and constitutes one of the main sources of the Jordan River. Archaeologists have uncovered what is believed to be a shrine dedicated to Pan and related deities, and the remains of an ancient city founded sometime after the conquest by Alexander the Great.
The first reference dates from the Hellenistic period in the context of a battle fought around 200-198 BCE, when the name of the place is given as Panion. The region was later called Paneas , both names are derived from the Greek god Pan who was the companion of the nymphs.
The spring initially originated in a large cave carved out of a sheer cliff face which was gradually lined with a series of shrines. The temenos, sacred precinct included in its final phase a temple placed at the mouth of the cave, courtyards for rituals, and niches for statues. It was constructed on an elevated, 80m long natural terrace along the cliff which towered over the north of the city. A four-line inscription at the base of one of the niches relates to Pan and Echo, the mountain nymph, and was dated to 87 CE.
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Names: Hebrew: בניאס , Arabic: بانياس الحولة ,Baal-gad, Banias, Baniyas, Banyas, Barias, Belinas, Caesarea Neronias, Caesarea of Philip, Caesarea Paneas, Caesarea Panias, Caesareia Sebaste, Keisarion, Kisrin, Medinat Dan, Mivzar Dan, Neronias, Pamias, Paneas, Paneias, Paneion, Panias, Panium