I love living in Israel. The Bible truly comes to life, as I walk in His footsteps. Exploring this land, His land, is such a privilege. One of the places I like to visit is Caeserea Philippi. Take this journey with me. Come…walk in His footsteps, too.
Caesarea Philippi is located on the foothills of Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights. The Banias Springs feeds into the Dan and Senir rivers to form the Jordan (means “the coming down of the Dan) River, that begins nearby. In the Old Testament period, this area was known as Baal Hermon and Baal Gad.
Signs give the history of the site. This sign offers information about Pan, the half-man half-goat god of fright, (where we get the word panic from). The city known as Panias has been corrupted in the Arabic language to its modern name of Banias because there is no “P” in the Arabic alphabet.
In the winter, when rain and melting snow feeds the springs in abundance, the Banias Springs flow swiftly. The water is icy-cold year-round.
The springs meander through the Caesarea Philippi National Park where visitors can walk on designated paths to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Jesus visited the city around 29 A.D. (The event is recorded in Mark 8:27.) “Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”, and Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah. This is one of the important Christian events, giving the city a special religious status which intensified during the Byzantine period, Another event is associated with the city and Jesus – the miracle of the healing of the bleeding woman. A large Byzantine Basilica, dedicated to this miracle, was constructed south of the springs.
One of the many Roman artifacts found at the site.
The Grotto of Pan is a large cave in the mountain. This cave became the center of pagan worship. Beginning in the 3rd century B.C., sacrifices, including children, were thrown into the cave as offerings to the god Pan.
Niches carved in the side of the mountainside and next to the cave held the statues of idols and gods. The pagan activity continued until the middle of the Byzantine period, around the 5th century, and then they were abandoned.
Along the walk from the Banias Springs to the waterfall is the base of a Roman bridge. This was once a section of the ancient Roman road that led to Damascus.
A little further to the west of the national park is an entrance to the Banias waterfall. A short hike down steps leads to the breathtaking sight of the waterfall that gushes from the side of the large rocks.