The Galilee & Judea

Ein Kerem
Jordan River
Mount of Temptation
Sea of Galilee
Mount of Beatitudes
Mount Tabor
Banias Print version
n the eve of Jesusí fateful trip to Jerusalem, he went far north to the city of Caesarea of Philippi, at the foothills of Mount Hermon.
There, away from the crowds, Jesus wanted to see if the people would recognize him for who he was. When asked, St. Peter answered him that he was the Messiah. And Jesus promised him that he was the rock on which the Church would be built, and he would hold the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. It was in this place that Jesus prepared his disciples for the bitter fate awaiting him in Jerusalem.

Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus came and spoke to them. He said, ĎAll authority in heaven on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make desciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.'

he remains of the city of Banias (Arabic pronunciation of Panias) are located in northern Israel, at the foot of Mt. Hermon. Here, below a steep cliff, the cold waters of the Banias spring, one of the sources of the Jordan River, gush forth.
According to written sources, Banias was first settled in the Hellenistic period. The Ptolemaic kings, in the 3rd century BCE, built a cult center to counter the Semitic one at Dan to the south, which indeed gradually declined. Then, in 200 BCE, the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III defeated the Ptolemaic army in this region and captured Banias.

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lmost 200 years later, in 20 BCE, the region which included Banias was annexed to the Kingdom of Herod the Great and was ruled by his successors until the end of the first century CE. In the year 2 BCE, Herod Philip founded a pagan city and named it Caesarea Philippi (in honor of Augustus Caesar). It became the capital of his large kingdom which spread across the Golan and the Hauran. Contemporary sources refer to the city as Caesarea Panias and the New Testament as Caesarea Philippi, (Matt. 16:13). During the Roman period, the center of the city spread over a plateau measuring 300 x 300 m., with natural features protecting it on three sides. At its peak, it extended even beyond these natural boundaries.

rom the fourth century and until the Arab conquest, Panias functioned as an important Christian center. During the Arab period, the city was the district capital of the Golan in the province of Damascus and its name was changed to Banias. During the Fatimid rule in the 11th century, fortifications were constructed. Then the Crusaders, who ruled the town from 1129, surrounded it with a massive ring of fortifications. However, after repeated attacks, the city was conquered by Nur ed-Din of Damascus in 1164. Fearing that it might again serve as a Crusader fortress, the fortifications were dismantled at the beginning of the 13th century and are, therefore, only partially visible. Over time, Banias gradually lost its importance.