Apollonia National Park is on a kurkar (calcareous sandstone) promontory facing the seashore of Herzliya.
In the park there is an impressive Crusader fortress – a romantic backdrop for couples in love, and also an exciting setting for children to let their imagination run wild.
The Roman seaside villa
The Crusader fortress
The coastal path
The glass furnace
Sidna Ali Mosque
The Dinosaur House
Points of interest in detail:
The city moat - the southern side of the city moat was excavated in 1998, and helps us to estimate the size and strength of the city in Crusader times. In 1996 the eastern city gate, which still lies in grounds belonging to IMI (Israel Military Industries), was excavated. The moat can clearly be seen to continue beyond the excavated area, and it is about 4.5 m deep.
The Roman seaside villa- at the beginning of the 1980s a small part of the Roman villa was excavated, but it was only after intensive excavations in 1998 that the villa was revealed in all its glory. The Roman villa, overlooking the sea, is dated to the 1st century CE, and was destroyed in an earthquake in 118 CE.
The Crusader fortress- construction of the fortress is dated to 1241, and its destruction to 1265, when the city was captured by the Mameluke Sultan Baibars. The fortress building was influenced by similar fortresses in southern England, and is evidence that the architect was European. The fortress has three systems of fortification: a wide and deep moat, a first wall (the external fortification array), and a second wall and donjon (keep). The fortress was built by Balian of Ibelin, Lord of Arsur, but in 1261, at the start of Baibars' campaign to the land of Israel, it was handed over, along with the entire city of Apollonia, to the control of the Hospitaller Knights. Baibars besieged the city for 30 days, and the fortress for another three days. At the foot of the fortress is a small sea anchorage at which boats could tie up.
The coastal path- from the point where it splits off, the path descends towards the Roman villa, and then follows the route of the city wall. The trail rejoins the upper trail at the Tamarisk tree compound.
The glass furnace- the glass furnace at the entrance to the park was in use in the Byzantine period (6th century CE). So far 12 furnaces have been found around Apollonia, and it seems that the glass industry was one of the most important branches of the city's economy. By firing at a particularly high temperature (1,100°C) in the glass furnace, the raw material, mainly the silica found in beach sand, was turned into a sheet of raw glass, 50 cm thick. After firing, the glass sheet and the furnace were dismantled, and so the furnace was used for only one firing. From the quantity of potsherds found near the furnaces, it can be concluded that they were used a number of times for making pottery vessels before glass was fired in them, after which they were abandoned and a new furnace was made.
Sidna Ali Mosque– Sidna Ali mosque was built in 1481, and was named after the soldier Ali Ibn Alim (Al-Hasan ibn Ali), who, according to Muslim belief, fell in battle against the Crusaders at Apollonia in 1250. The minaret of the mosque rises to a height of 21 m. The mosque was built by Shams al-Din, whose tomb is in the town of Jaljulia. The mosque is in use today, and entry is permitted only in modest dress.
Between the mosque and the cliff is an ancient Muslim cemetery, which is an antiquities site, containing the tombstone of Sheikh Mansour and a number of neglected shaft tombs.
The Dinosaur House – quarrying the caves in the sandstone rock created an interesting and mysterious structure. It was named the "Dinosaur House", and Herzliya Municipality has given it the status of a tourist site. The Dinosaur House attracts many curious visitors, and beautifies the shoreline. The upper part of the structure is on the border of Apollonia National Park, but it lies mostly in the area of Herzliya Municipality.
The Tamarisk lookout – from the clifftop looking out to sea, to the coastline and the Crusader fortress
The view of the sea from the "Lovers Bench" – a romantic picnic site
The Keep (donjon) – looking out to sea from the tower at the top of the cliff
Lookout to the disappearing bay