Nebi Samuel Park
Meet Nabi Samuel Park
Nabi Samuel Park is a fascinating combination of antiquities, agricultural terraced landscapes, mountain spring, and orchards. At the heart of the site is a large building from the Crusader period, containing the tomb of the prophet Samuel
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Points of interest
- The tomb of the prophet Samuel
- Ruins of a settlement from Second Temple times
- The remains of a Crusader fortress and building
- Spring and remnants of mountain agriculture
Hannah’s spring: The route of an ancient road goes down to an orchard of strawberry, olive and fig trees. The orchard is alongside a small spring, rising from a cave. In the rocks above the cave, the entrances to First Temple period burial caves were found. Picnic tables have been set up in a pleasant and tranquil corner in the shade of the fig trees.
Second Temple period residential quarter: Excavations revealed two rows of buildings which are part of a street in a large residential quarter dating to Hasmonean times (2nd century BCE). The buildings have been preserved to a rare height: around 4 m, and the quarter also includes later buildings. At the time of Alexander Jannaeus, who expanded the Hasmonean kingdom, the settlement was abandoned.
Beneath these ruins, the remains of a settlement from the Persian era (6th – 4th centuries BCE) were found, including jar handles stamped with the word ‘yahad’ – a find hinting that the site may have been an administrative center for the province of Judea. Pottery from the time of the Kingdom of Judah was also found.
The western moat: In the western wing of the Crusader fortress is a section of the fortress moat, which was not completed. The large blocks of stone, partly separated from the rock, are very impressive.
The quarry: To the north of the central building, appearing today as a large rock surface. The Crusaders quarried stone building blocks here, creating a 5 m high perpendicular wall, on which they laid the stones of the fortification wall. At the northern end of the leveled area they built stables, of which the horse troughs still remain. To the east of the stables, a smaller stable was carved out. Three carved rock columns remain in the center of the quarry, each approximately 1 m high, whose role is unclear.
There are those who think that many years before the Crusader period, in biblical times, this was the site of the “high place of Gibeon”. The Bible tells that King Solomon went to the high place of Gibeon to make an offering: “And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place” (I Kings 3:3). The village of Al-Jib, about 1.5 km north, is identified with the biblical Gibeon. Is the sanctity of Har Shmuel in our times an echo of those distant days?
Ancient industrial apparatus: In the central building complex, that is, within the Crusader fortress, are the remains of a Byzantine wine press, and alongside it, the remains of a kiln used for smelting metals in the Mameluke period. On the southern side of the fortress, the remains of a pottery furnace were found – a pottery industry developed here during the Byzantine period, and continued into the early Arab period.
The tomb of the prophet Samuel: Since the Byzantine period, Christian tradition has identified this site with Ramah, the place where the prophet Samuel was buried. This is a tradition accepted by Jews and Muslims alike. The grave monument is in a cave carved in the rock, which lies under the central building.
The central building is part of the church of the fortress built by the Crusaders in the 12th century. In the church hall, the domes and the massive walls typical of the Romanesque building style used by the Crusaders still stand. Incorporated in the church building is a mosque from the Mameluke period (14th century). The building was extensively renovated at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Muslim prayer site is in a hall behind the vestibule. The Jewish prayer site is in the cave containing the monument marking the grave of the prophet Samuel. A flight of stairs to the side of the vestibule goes down to the cave.
Nabi Samuel ParkUseful Information
The site is open round the clock all year round, including Saturday, with exceptions listed below
Opening hours of the site and the tomb of Samuel the Prophet:
Sun.–Wed. round the clock except for 02:00–04:00
Thurs.–Fri.: From Thurs. 04:00 to Friday before the Sabbath begins.
Saturday: From Saturday morning at 07:00 to Sunday at 02:00
Rooftop view in the main building is open:
Summer time hours: Sun.–Fri. and Saturday: 08:00–17:00
Winter time hours: Sun.–Fri. and Saturday: 08:00–16:00
Ascent to the roof is permitted until one hour before closing time.
On Friday the rooftop is closed during noon prayers in the mosque, and closes one hour before the Sabbath begins.
Drive north along Golda Meir Blvd (Road 436). 0.5 km after Giv’at Ze’ev, turn right and follow the brown sign directing visitors to the site.
Take Road 443, pass Modi’in, and at the Ofer junction turn right onto Road 436. Pass Giv’at Ze’ev and immediately after the Har Shmu’el Junction, turn left and follow the brown sign directing visitors to the site.