© Angela M. Lobefaro
Thanks to gadihext and to his very friendly family for the fantastic hospitality!
Rosh HaNikra ( [show location on an interactive map] 33°05′N 35°06′E / 33.083°N 35.1°E / 33.083; 35.1; Hebrew: ראש הנקרה, or Ras an-Naqoura, "head of the grottos") is a geologic formation in Israel, located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in the Western Galilee near the border with Lebanon. It is a white chalk cliff face which opens up into spectacular grottos.
The Rosh HaNikra grottos are cavernous tunnels formed by sea action on the soft chalk rock. The total length is some 200 meters. They branch off in various directions with some interconnecting segments. In the past, the only access to them was from the sea and experienced divers were the only ones capable of visiting. Today a cable car takes visitors down to see the grottos. A kibbutz, also named Rosh HaNikra, is located nearby.
The Book of Joshua mentions "Misraphot Mayim" as a place south of Rosh HaNikra that was the border of the Israelite tribes of the time (13:6). Jewish sages referred to the cliff as "The Ladder of Tyre" (Hebrew: sullam Tzor). The site was later renamed A-Nawakir ("the grottos") after an Arab conquest. The present name, Rosh HaNikra, is a hebracized version of a latter dated Arabic variation "Ras-an-Nakura".
Throughout human history, Rosh HaNikra served as a passage point for trade caravans and armies between Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and Africa. The British dug a tunnel through the nearby rocks for trains on what was the Cairo-Istanbul railway. A bridge was destroyed by Jewish underground fighters prior to 1948 during the operation Night of the bridges.
Rosh Hanikra was the site where Israeli and Lebanese officials negotiated and concluded an armistice in 1949 which ended the Lebanese-Israeli component of the 1948 War of Israeli Independence.