by yael Adar
The Ramat Hanadiv Memorial Gardens are nestled on a slope, on the road that leads from Zichron Ya’acov to Binyamina. The gardens and nature reserve are a real jewel sprawled over roughly 1,100 acres – 20 of which are the memorial gardens.
Baron Edmond de Rothschild specified in his will that he wished to be buried in Israel. He died on November 2, 1934. The significance of the Baron’s works in Israel over the years can perhaps best be explained by telling a little bit about how his wish was honored.
The remains of the Baron and Baroness were removed from the French cemetery where they had been buried, twenty years earlier. Brought to Israel aboard a naval frigate, upon arrival in Haifa on April 6, 1954 the craft was greeted with sirens and a nineteen-gun salute. The government had decreed a State Funeral and the Baron and Baroness were re-interred in Israel.
David Ben-Gurion eulogized the Baron, “I doubt if one can find, in the entire history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora – a period of almost two thousand years - any person who equals or who can compare with the remarkable figure of the builder of the Jewish settlement in the renewed homeland in our day, that of Baron Edmond de Rothschild.”
As you enter the gardens, you will see the Rothschild coat of arms. Notice the clenched fist with five arrows. These symbolize the five sons of Mayer Rothschild, patriarch of the Rothschild clan. The family motto appears below the shield, in Latin, Concordia, Integritas, Industria, (Unity, Integrity, Diligence).
Not only are the gardens beautiful, the surrounding nature reserve will appeal to hikers, who seek more than just a leisurely stroll, particularly those with an interest in archaeology. Picnic tables dot the landscape just outside the gardens, where a kiosk offering light refreshments is located.
The primary sections of the garden are:
The Crypt – here the Baron and Baroness were re-interred. Elegant simplicity marks their final resting place.
Fragrance Garden – this garden was designed with the visually impaired in mind, so that plants’ fragrance might be enjoyed. It includes fragrant sweet smelling plants and herbs. Visitors are encouraged to touch the plants in this section, where plants are clearly labeled in Braille, Latin, Hebrew and Arabic.
Cascade Garden – terraces that face the Mediterranean are lined with dragon trees and large cypresses.
Rose Garden – this formal garden with a wide variety of roses includes six pools with fountains, representing the Rothschild family. The large pool represents the head of the family, while the five small pools represent his five sons.
Palm Garden – located on the eastern side of the park, this section includes a small selection of the world’s 2800 palms.
The Samaria Observation Point – located between the Rose and Palm gardens this is a lovely lookout point.
There are a number of paths in the nature reserve (ask for a map at the information booth). Some of the highlights include the remains of an ancient villa; Ein Tzur, a Roman period water system, ancient quarries, an ancient burial site from the Middle Bronze Age, Hurvat ‘Alaq, an Ottoman era farmstead and more.
The Ramat Hanadiv Memorial Gardens are located on Route # 652.
Visiting Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 8:00 AM – 3:45 PM, Fridays and Holiday Eves, 8:00 AM – 1:45 PM. Saturdays and Holidays, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (the Crypt is closed).
Entry fees: Free.