Saturday, April 23, 2011

Zikron Ya'akov: Israel's Gem

zichron Ya'acov Street
Welcome to Zikron Ya'akov
Located high atop Carmel Mountain and facing the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere between the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa lies one of Israel's prized gems. Just a mere 15 minute drive south of Haifa or a 45 minute drive north of Tel Aviv, this crown jewel known as Zikhron Ya'akov seems to lie a world away from its industrial neighbors. When I first laid eyes on this charming town, I turned directly to my husband, asking him: "Why have you never brought me here?!" Sometimes, it's beyond me. With stellar ocean views, cute boutiques, crafty shops, tasty cafes and picturesque cobblestone streets, what's not to like?!



Aerial View of Zikron Ya'akov
Originally a farming community in the late 1800's, Zikron Ya'akov's center has been restored in the present day. It has a decidedly un-Israeli look and feel, which may explain why it is a popular tourist spot for Israelis and why relatively few tourists from abroad visit here. Additionally, its westernized feel may also explain why this city has the highest per capita English speaking population of any city in Israel. Many tourists visit nearby Caeserea and are not aware that only minutes away lies a charming town where the country’s first winery was established. As for me, I had always seen the turnoff for Zikron Ya'akov on my visits to famed Caesarea, but I never knew what I was missing out on until I went to visit the area in person.



The main street, Rehov Hameyasdim (also known as Wine’s Way), is lined with red-shingled buildings, antique lamp posts, and streets paved with cobblestones. An assortment of small shops, featuring the works of local artists, cafĂ©’s and restaurants are located here. As you walk down Rehov Hameyasdim be sure to take note of the signs on the vaious buildings. They provide information about Zikron Ya’akov’s past, in small doses. 

SHop in Zichron Ya'acov
One of the many streets in Zikron Ya'akov featuring local artists




Just outside of town you will find a few wineries to feast on, including the well known Carmel Winery and also the Tishbi Winery. Additionally, for a little bit of history and aesthetic, you may opt to head over to Ramat Hanadiv, the memorial gardens for Baron Rothschild, whose life was critical to the development of Zikron Ya'akov. I am bummed that I missed out on this attraction, but that just means there's always next time.


      Tishbi Israel

Whether you decide to attend an afternoon harp concert, visit a local winery or museum, or simply want to stroll the settlement’s main street, Zikron Ya’akov is certainly worth a visit. From my viewpoint, it's the perfect getaway for a romantic weekend or a little breather from the routine of daily life.

Sunset in Zikron Ya'akov facing the Mediterranean Sea

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