Just within arm's length—one of Israel's hidden but lesser known gems of tourism featuring one of the country's largest ecological parks, friendly sharks, an attractive coastline, fascinating history of the pre-state Nili underground fighters, and a popular Science Park where visitors can inquire into a wealth of scientific phenomena.
Many of us pass this region on our way northward, for cottage vacations in the Galilee or Kinneret, totally unaware that we are missing one of Israel's major touristic treasures. The most one typically notices is the forest of eucalyptus trees that harken back to the poem we once learned in high school about the eucalyptus tree.
But Hadera offers much more than its historic forest. Hadera the colony was founded in 1891 by immigrants from the first wave of immigration to pre-state Israel. Over the years it has become a multicultural city blessed with a long golden coastline, green spaces, municipal and national parks, a restored river that has become a true attraction, heritage sites and more. Alongside all these are vital energy infrastructures including a power station, a Science & Technology Center, and a charming hotel that offers a spectacular view of the sunset. Hadera's location in the heart of the country has turned it into a rich tourist destination offering a wealth of attractions for the entire family. Here one can enjoy several days of enjoyable and thrilling excursions guaranteed to leave you with great experiences that you never expected to find here.
Nahal Hadera Park: Poet Nathan Yonatan penned a poem about Hadera Stream called "The shores sometimes yearn for the stream". Since then Hadera Stream has become an attractive park, established together with the construction of the Maor David power station (currently known as Orot Rabin). A segment of the stream measuring one and a half kilometers in length was restored, such that seawater is channeled into the power station to cool the turbines and pumped back into the stream, thus assuring a regular flow throughout the year. Established along the banks of the stream are a beautiful park that includes lawns, nooks for recreation and barbecues, stairs leading to the pier and the walking path along the shore, a suspension bridge connecting between the banks of the stream and the nearby sand dunes all around. Children are invited to frolic and roll down the sand dunes, or enjoy the play facilities and outdoor fitness installations suitable for both parents and children. The park is fully accessible for special needs.
Among the park's special attractions are sharks, which gather here each year during the winter months in the warm waters that flow from the power station. This is a unique world phenomenon whereas the sharks come within several meters from shore and are easily viewed. An information station and observation post for viewing the sharks are open during the winter on weekends and holidays between 10 am and 3 pm.
Grey shark in Hadera Stream (photo: Haggai Nativ, Morris Kahn Marine Research Station, Haifa University)
Eco Park: The park stretches across an area of some 72,000 sq meters. In its center is an ecological lake with a pedestrian bridge passing over it. The park offers numerous sports and play facilities suitable for all ages including children with special needs. Visitors can stroll along park's walking paths, relax on the spacious lawns, or pedal their way along a "pump track" bicycle circuit. An artificial hill affords visitors a view of the entire surroundings. Opening hours: Sundays, 16:00–22:00; Monday to Saturday, 06:00–22:00.
Iris Hill: Situated next to Hadera's Ein HaYam neighborhood in the city's western section one comes upon a charming nature site featuring flowers in impressive bloom—the purple iris. This unique flower, endemic to the region, is in bloom from January to March. Hadera's Iris Hill is considered the world's most northerly observation point for this flower. Alongside the hill one finds the white and fragrant furze shrub, Dyer's Alkanet with its bright blue flowers, and seasonal anemones and primrose peeking out from between the rocks and stones.
How to get there: From the Olga Interchange turn towards the Ein HaYam neighborhood and continue driving until arriving at the Ramada Hotel. At the traffic circle turn left and drive for about 1.5 km until the square in Ein HaYam neighborhood. To your right follow the sign "Iris Hill" (Givat Ha'Irusim). Park your car and proceed on foot to the Hill.
Sharon Park – Hadera Forest: Back when Hadera was founded, this site was covered with large, mosquito infested swamps that led to numerous fatal cases of malaria among the settlers. In 1896 eucalyptus trees were planted here in order to dry up the swamps, however this effort proved ineffective. Ultimately, this was achieved by pumping the water out into the Alexander River. What remains is a wonderful eucalyptus grove, which offers visitors attractive shaded areas with picnic tables installed by Keren Kayemet – the Jewish National Fund. Situated at the edge of Hadera Forest is Sharon Park, a national park extending across an area of 6 sq. kilometers. Here you can enjoy walking along nature trails in the Park's green spaces in view of carob and oak trees as well as remnants of an ancient forest of Mount Tabor oaks which was felled by the Turks. When in season, colorful flowers in bloom accompany your experience to the sound of numerous birds chirping merrily. Continuing eastward along the Park's trails one encounters, among the eucalyptus trees, Ata Pond, a remnant of the swamps that's covered with beautiful pink water plants (in season).
Hadera has a grand history of settlement and, as such, offers Israeli history buffs fascinating trails and sites.
Yad Avshalom monument: Hadera was once home to members of the Nili underground organization, one of whom was Avshalom Feinberg who was killed in Rafah, Egypt on a mission in service of the organization. The desert sands covered his body for some fifty years. With no burial site, his family erected a monument in his memory in 1954, alongside today's Highway 4. In 2010 the monument in its entirely was relocated to its current site in Nahal Hadera Park. Alongside the monument are two palm trees that symbolize the palm trees that grew out of his burial site. Admission and parking are free.
Hefziba Farm: The farm was established in 1906 in order to provide work for Hebrew workers and to establish new local settlements. Olive and almond groves were planted here. Each year upon the end of autumn and the beginning of winter, the area is visited by about 8,000 cormorants who migrate here from the Black Sea and spend their nights in the treetops of eucalyptus trees along the banks of the river. On the farm is a Visitor Center featuring: an exhibition and a film offering a glance at the beginning of the last century, accompanied by fascinating stories; the historic pump house with a live demonstration of the pump that operated here in the past, when the waters of Hadera Stream were pumped in order to irrigate the plantations; Workers’ Street – a Eucalyptus boulevard featuring restored houses that once housed the workers as well as the farm director, with a beautiful view towards the “Orot Rabin” power station; a 100 year-old orchard and lovely spots along the banks of the Hadera Stream. Here one can stroll along well-kept lawns that offer attractive spots for picnics and resting. In the winter months the surrounding hills are adorned with primrose and other colorful flowers in bloom. Admission is free, from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open from Sundays to Thursdays, from 8 am to 3 pm. Guided tours are free but must be arranged in advance by calling 076-8634742.
Hadera's historic Eucalyptus Trail: This historic trail exposes visitors to the lifestyle of the pioneers who established the colony of Hadera and reconstructs the first days of settlement here. A complete walking tour of the site takes about four hours. For your convenience signs are posted along the entire trail pointing the way to heritage sites (paid admission). Guided tours may be arranged.
Feinberg House: The house in which Avshalom Feinberg grew up, whose parents were among the colony's founders. The house was built in 1897 and its wall drawings, discovered during restoration works, offer a rare glimpse into the history of interior design in pre-state Israel at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, the house tells the story of the Feinberg family and the heroism of their fallen son Avshalom during the first days of Hadera. Here one can view a permanent exhibition of the family's belongings and a film that depicts the site's restoration and the story of Avshalom's heroism. In addition one can peruse a copy of A Sign from Avshalom, written by author Nava Macmel-Atir. Stories of other families (Belkind, Henkin, Vilbush) are interspersed throughout the house. In the courtyard is a black basalt memorial headstone with a planted branch of the palm tree that grows near the body of Feinberg in the Sinai sands. Address: 34 Jabotinsky St.
Feinberg House is open from Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm, and on Fridays from 9 am to 12 pm. Visits must be arranged in advance by calling 04-6343296. Admission: token payment.
Ahad Ha'am School: The first-ever school in Hadera, inaugurated in 1922 in the presence of British Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel. Despite its modest proportions, this institution symbolized the Zionist movement taking root in the land of Israel, with the values of Hebrew culture and language a significant part of its ideology. During that period school books were almost non-existent, therefore each teacher was required to also be an author in subjects that advanced the establishment of the Hebrew language. After decades of neglect, then mayor Zvika Gandelman decided to restore the building and turn it into a tourist attraction. Here one finds historic exhibitions of pictures, documents, and objects from the past. Films projected on the walls and an interactive activity produce an experience that brings the period to life. Address: 21 Ahad Ha'am St. The site is open from Sunday to Thursday, from 9 am to 4 pm. Visits must be arranged in advance by calling 04-6303101. Admission: token payment.
Historic Ahad Ha'am School (PR photo)
Amir Meital Boulevard and the historic kiosk: The historic boulevard of ficus trees in the center of Hadera has become an active thoroughfare that features environmental sculptures with elements of the old and the new. The boulevard is named after the late lieutenant colonel Amir Meital who played here as a child and was killed in combat in Lebanon. Here we find Ahad Ha'am Café, a neighborhood establishment operating out of a reconstructed building that housed the historic kiosk. The story of the kiosk, one of the city's most ancient symbols, involved David Sharshov, the owner of a fish stand in the colony who sought ways of recycling ice remaining from refrigerating the fish. Ahead of his time, David gave thought to recycling and sustainability and established a kiosk where he sold 'Gazoz' – a soda drink sweetened with fruit syrup and cooled with ice – for the benefit of colony residents during the hot days of summer. In 2016 the reconstructed kiosk was opened, offering, of course, Gazoz in a nostalgic atmosphere.
Address: Amir Meital Boulevard, corner of Ahad Ha'am St.
The 'Khan' (inn): The Khan Museum is located at the Khan national preservation site, in the historic center of the city. It is the only building in the area built out of hewn stones imported from Caesarea. Originally, the building serviced an Ottoman farm at the end of 19th century and was the home of the Lebanese effendi landowner Salim Khouri. The house's ten rooms serve as a repository for permanent exhibits that describe the history of the city and also function as the historic archive for Hadera. Visitors to the Museum will encounter figures from the past who tell the story of the founders of the city, from the first settlers from Russia through to the major waves of Jewish immigration from around the world. The Museum is open Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 8 am to 5 pm, and on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 am to 2 pm. Paid admission.
Address: 74 HaGiborim St.
Technoda Technological Education and Science Center
About a quarter of a million children, teens and adults visit the Center, located in Givat Olga, each year. At the Center they engage in activities that explore science, medicine and technology. Each visitor gets the chance to become a scientist and inquire into a wealth of fascinating scientific phenomena: Come discover the secret of light beams in the dark room of the Physics wing; play a giant cello in the Sounds section; sail solar powered boats in the Energy section; solve riddles in the Thinking Games area; view stars in the Astronomy section and learn about the universe in the planetarium; experience medical simulators and more.
This coming Hanukah holiday – an astronomy 'happening' for the entire family, "Journey in the Solar System. How does it feel to be in outer space? Is it cold there, or is it super-hot? Are we able to breathe on Mars, or even see the sun from there? The answers to these questions and many more await you in this scientific journey among the planets of the solar system. The event takes place on Wednesday-Thursday, December 25-26, from 9 am to 4 pm. Paid admission. Tickets may be ordered in advance by calling 04-6333505. Address: 2 Ha-Rav Nisim St., Givat Olga. For further information and tickets visit the website at www.technoda.org.il