Ruins of the Nimrod Fortress, a medieval fortress situated in the northern Golan Heights, Israel.

© Nina Mikryukova/Shutterstock

Nimrod Fortress

Top choice in Golan Heights

Built by Muslims in the 13th century to protect the road from Tyre to Damascus, Nimrod Fortress rises fairy-tale-like on a long, narrow ridge (altitude 815m) on the southwestern slopes of Mt Hermon. The work that went into building such a massive fortification – 420m long and up to 150m wide – on the top of a remote mountain ridge boggles the mind. If you’re going to visit just one Crusader-era fortress during your trip, this should be it.

Background on the fortress’ colourful medieval history, including its destruction by the Mongols, can be found in the excellent English map-brochure given out at the ticket booth. Highlights include an intact 13th-century hall, complete with angled archers' slits, in the Northern Tower.

The castle, visible from all over the Hula Valley, is protected by near-vertical cliffs and vertiginous canyons on all sides but one. South of Nimrod is Wadi Sa’ar, which divides the Golan’s basalt plateau (to the south) from the limestone flanks of Mt Hermon (to the north).

The fortress is served by Rama bus 58 from Kiryat Shmona to Majdal Shams.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Golan Heights attractions

1. Banias Nature Reserve

2.17 MILES

The gushing springs, waterfalls and lushly shaded streams of Banias Nature Reserve form one of the most beautiful – and popular – nature spots in the…

2. Galil Nature Center

3.56 MILES

This museum's archaeology section focuses on nearby Tel Dan Nature Reserve, while in the old-fashioned but informative (and, in its own way, beautiful)…

3. Tel Dan Nature Reserve

3.94 MILES

This half-square-kilometre reserve, 1.6km north of Rte 99, boasts two major attractions. The first, an area of lush forest, is fed by year-round springs…

4. Ya’ar HaAyalim

4.63 MILES

Kids will love this gravelly tree-shaded hillside, home to three species of deer (from Northern Europe, the Himalayas and Japan), ibexes, 85cm-high mini…

5. Odem Mountain Winery

4.65 MILES

Keep an eye out for this family-run boutique winery's light, summery rosé (made with cabernet sauvignon and syrah), their cabernet franc red and…

6. Sha'al Fruit Picking

5.61 MILES

The orchards here grow four kinds of cherries, three kinds of plums and five kinds of mulberries as well as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and…

7. Upper Galilee Museum of Prehistory

6.25 MILES

Israel is home to some of the world's most important prehistoric sites, several of them in the Hula Valley. This gem of a museum, which draws…

8. Open Museum of Photography

7.78 MILES

Temporary exhibitions, by renowned Israeli and international photographers, change twice a year. An interactive section for kids explores the principles…