by Yael Adar
For those who enjoy 'unofficial' sites, the small castle of Cafarlet, at Moshav Ha'bonim is a nice place to visit, especially if you combine it with some other sightseeing in the area. The Moshav lies on the coast between Caesarea and Atlit. Its beach is known as one of the country's best – so a visit here is definitely an opportunity to enjoy a swim – have a nice oceanside picnic or simply take a leisurely walk on the beach, which is part of a nature reserve. The more adventurous among you can even go skydiving (there is a skydiving school right on the beach).
Cafarlet is located three kilometers from the ocean and eight kilometers from Atlit (site of Chateau Pelerin, the only Templar fortification that was never captured by the enemy). It is also three kilometers from Merle (at Dor), another Crusader stronghold.
This is a small square castle, which is by no means spectacular, but Crusader devotees are bound to enjoy it. There is however something quaint about the site – which is not part of national park (hence it is also free). It sits atop a small hill at Ha'bonim
What is unique about the castle is that unlike other square castles, Cafarlet features rounded guard towers – the remains of which are still clearly visible. Though small, they are more reminiscent of the rounded guard towers that can be found in Europe than of the typical square towers that can be found in square castles elsewhere in the Holy Land.
During the 12th century Cafarlet was part of the Principality of Caesarea. The Templars bought the castle and the surrounding land in 1213, but by 1255 it was conquered by the Moslems.
For those interested in more recent history, nearby Kibbutz Nahsholim is home to an old glass factory (known in Hebrew as, Ha' Mizgaga), that was established in 1894 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild – to manufacture wine bottles for what at the time was the newly evolving wine industry. This particular spot was chosen – due to the abundance of sand needed to produce the glass.
However, this factory whose manager was Meir Dizengoff (who later went on to become Tel Aviv's first mayor), did not survive for long - the rampant malaria ultimately led to its closing. Today, the building serves as museum of underwater archeological finds.
Cafarlet is located at Moshav Ha'bonim.
Directions: Driving from Tel Aviv toward Haifa, take coastal road # 2. After Zichron Ya'acov, take the exit to Route #7011, (toward Fureidis).At the stoplight take a left onto Route # 4. Drive until you see the sign for Ha'bonim (on the left). Turn left and follow the road all the way to the end (you'll cross over a bridge that goes over the coastal road). As you cross the bridge you will see a brown sign to Ha'bonim. Take this right, only if you want to reach beach/nature reserve. Otherwise, continue straight and enter the Moshav. At the entrance bear left and go up the hill and you’ll see a water tower on the right. On the left there is an older looking building (which is a library), take a left and park at the edge of the small parking lot (you'll be facing the Carmel Mountains). Walk down a small path, take a left and the small castle will immediately be visible.
For those interested in visiting the old glass factory, Ha'Mizgaga at Nasholim:
04/ 639-0950 TEL
Visiting Hours:Sunday-Thursday 8:30 AM – 2:00 PM, Friday, 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Saturday, 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM.
Entry fees apply.