Nahariya is a charming seaside city in northern Israel with beautiful surrounding mountains and a quaint main street filled with shops, restaurants, cafes and tourists.

“Nahar” is the Hebrew word for “river,” and Nahariya takes its name from a stream of the Ga’aton River, which is 19 km. (12 miles) long and runs through the city’s main street before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.

The first two families to reside in Nahariya – German-Jewish immigrants – settled there on February 10, 1935, which is now considered to be the city’s official founding date.

It was originally planned as an agricultural village, but the residents, having found agriculture to be impractical there, instead decided to focus on tourism.

In the 1950s, Nahariya absorbed immigrants from North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, thereby gaining a reputation as a development town. The 1990s, however, saw an influx of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and within a decade the city experienced a construction boon and began attracting newcomers of diverse backgrounds from around the country.

Nahariya has since become a desirable place for potential residents seeking a quiet lifestyle and affordable housing, including some of Israel’s leading entrepreneurs and hi-tech innovators. Its Western Galilee Hospital is the second-largest medical facility in northern Israel.

The current population is approximately 52,000.

In 1947, only a few yards away from the clean municipal beach, the ruins of a Canaanite temple were discovered by chance; experts believe it existed circa 1500 BCE, approximately 200 years before the Children of Israel had entered the Promised Land, and that it was dedicated to Asherath (Astarte), the Canaanite goddess of the sea. Other attractions include the Municipal Museum, which houses an art exhibit and artifacts from the area dating as far back as the Stone Age, a botanical and zoological garden, a lovely beach playground and a modern, Olympic-sized sports arena.

There is much to do in the surrounding region as well, which boasts exquisite nature reserves, world-class spas and fascinating historical and archaeological sites. The city of Acco (Acre), for instance, is 10 miles south of Nahariya.

Notwithstanding the substantial economic growth in recent decades, Nahariya, Israel’s northernmost city (a mere 9.6 km., or 6 miles, south of Lebanon), continues to be cherished for its small-town atmosphere, symbolized by horse-drawn carriages leading tourists around town during summer and vacation periods. It is Nahariya’s natural beauty, pleasant climate and stunning beach, as well as marine activities such as fishing, diving and sailing, which continue to attract vacationers to this unique location.

Author: United with Israel staff
Date: Jan. 7, 2014