Urban Nature Sites in Netanya
Established in the 1920s by orchard growers, people, agriculture and nature have been always closely knit in Netanya. The sandstone cliff above the Mediterranean shore on which the city is located is a unique natural habitat with indigenous flora and fauna. Building and development have often threatened these fragile treasures and over time, the number of pristine open areas has reduced dramatically. In recent years, there have been considerable efforts to preserve ecosystems and create natural sanctuaries within the city.
Here are a few places where you can experience nature without leaving town:
An ancient tree
Right in the center of the city is a small park built around a natural gem: a gigantic ficus sycamore tree that’s estimated to be the oldest tree in Israel. Not much is known about the history of this ancient giant and it’s hard to estimate the tree’s exact age. Some say that Napoleon’s troops camped in the astounding 25 meters of shade it creates during their invasion of the area at the beginning of the 19th century. According to legend, it was planted at the burial place of Um Haled – the mother of Khalid ibn al-Walid – one of the leaders of the Arabic expansion in the Middle East in the 6th century A.D.
The Iris Reserve
At the southern part of the city, close to the Ir Yamim neighborhood is a sanctuary where you can come to enjoy the unique coastline environment. In the spring, the sandy soil is scattered with endemic plants and flowers with the burgundy irises serving as the crown jewel. In the past decade, a lot of efforts went into making the park more accessible to visitors while protecting the rare wildlife. February is the best month to see the Iris in full bloom, but there are flowers here almost year-round.
The Puddle Park
A unique park in the south of Netanya was built around a seasonal water pond called simply “The Winter Puddle”. It presents visitors with an opportunity to experience the area’s original marshland environment. Every year, the winter rains flow into the pond area and make a small picturesque lake. During the spring months, the pond attracts a wide variety of birds and waterfowl that come to feast on the insects and frogs that grow in the puddle’s water. This is a true oasis for both humans and animals.
The Oak Grove
This piece of urban nature in the eastern part of the city is often called “Sergeant’s Grove”. The name derives from an incident in 1947, in which members of a militia fighting for Israel’s independence, hanged two army officers serving the British mandate administration. There were plans to build in the area when a survey carried out in the grove found wild plant species, many of which were endangered. Rare varieties of lupins, orchids, and tulips bloom here in the spring. The grove mainly comprises eucalyptus trees that were planted here by the forestry department of the British local government in the first part of the 20th century. But the beautiful Mount Tabor oaks receive special protection.
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