West Galilee / Periods: Choose a period, Roman, Byzantine, Arabic, Crusader, Mameluke, Turks.

A castle at the top of the hill in Kibbutz Yehiam

“Located in Upper western Galilee, this fortress was first a fortified farmhouse, then rebuilt by the Teutonic Knights in 1208, destroyed 60 years after by the Mamelukes, rebuilt again in 1760 byDaher el-Omar in the 1760s, to finally become a kibbutz in 1946.”
A Fortress built on the ruins of a Roman and Byzantine period settlement.

At the entrance of the fortress you will find a Byzantine burial cave. During the crusaders presence in the Holy Land, they built fortresses to protect the Kingdom of Galilee. Yehiam Fortress was built on top of a hill overlooking the valley of Nahal Yehiam. Sale to germans Teutons in 1208, they strengthened the fortress and named it Judin. However the fortress was captured and destroyed by the Mamelukes, and it remained in ruins for about 500 years. In 1730 a bedouin named Daher el-Omar and his family reshaped the Galilee landscape by building fortresses, warehouses, khans and administrative buildings, creating a self governed province to revolt against the Ottoman empire.

Now

“In 1776 the Ottomans put an end to Daher revolt, and the fortress was a captured then later bombarded. In 1946 a Kibbutz was established near the fortress after purchasing the lands in the area.Today the fortress is an Israeli national park, where visitors can enjoy to visit and see steel statues of Crusader knights, installed across the park to simulate the Crusaders times.”

The Yehiam Fortress is an interesting example to how people of different eras used the same site for similar purpose. Here we have the remains of Crusader and Ottoman fortresses, which were built on the ruins of Roman and Byzantine structures.
The fortress has not yet been studied in depth. The earliest remains found here are those of a Roman fort and a Byzantine farm or monastery, situated south-east of the main building. The building is an impressive Crusader fort, named ‘Judin’ by the Arabs. It is situated only 10 km south of another well known castle called ‘Mont fort’. Judin was a fortified farm, which served as an agricultural settlemts.The tower, which stands in the center and which differs from all others, was the eastern Crusader tower. Other Crusader elements found here are an elongated vault, west of the tower, and a stone wall which formed the northern edge of the vault. A three storey building with a system of vaults, and a wall with loop-holes through which arrows could be shot, are also Crusader remains. A significant strengthening of the fortifications was effected in 1208, when the Crusader king allotted the farm to members of the German Order of Teutonic Nights, but it was not enough to stem the rising Moslem tide.
In 1265, the Mammeluke Sultan, Baybars, conquered the fortress and destroyed it. Although he left only a skeleton of broken down walls, parts of towers and roofless rooms, the ruins attest to the strength of the original structure.
About 500 years later the site became the stronghold of the local ruler, Sheik Mahd el-Hussein, who rebuilt parts of the fortress. In 1738 it was taken over by Dahr el-Ommar, a Bedouin sheik who gained control over the Galilee. The main structures in the ruins date to this time.
About two year before he State 0 Israel was declared, in November 1946, Kibbutz Yehiam was established near Judin. It was named after Yehiam Weitz, a soldier of the “Palmach”, who was killed in the action which blew up the Akhziv bridge during the British Mandatory period. The founders used the ruins of the fortress as their first temporary shelter. Kibbutz Yehiam was besieged in the War of Independence. One of the convoys sent from Nahariya to relieve it was attacked near Kabri, on the 27th of March, 1948, and half of the members of the convoy were killed. The kibbutz withstood the enemy attacks, holding out until the whole of Wesern Galilee was liberated, in May, 1948. The National Parks Authority has reconstructed parts of the fortress and cleared the site in preparation for viewing by the public.

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Yehiam Fortress

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