Between Israel and Lebanon, at our northernmost point, sits the historic moshav Metulla
Between Israel and Lebanon, at the northernmost point of our country, sits Metulla, a moshav of immense historic and political importance.
Metulla, which is located at the northern edge of Israel, in the upper Galilee, is perhaps best known today for Beit Canada—a world-class, Olympic-size ice skating facility built on the model of European professional ice skating arenas. But before council head, Yossi Goldberg, latched on to the dream of making Metulla a destination for winter sports in Israel, there was already a rich and long history here, at one of the last lines of defense between Israel and its northern Arab neighbors.
Metulla was founded in 1896 on land purchased by Baron Rothschild from a Lebanese Christian. Fifty-seven brave families from Rishon LeZion and Zichron Yaakov, chosen according to their ability to defend the moshav against Druze attacks from Lebanon, came to settle and build up the moshav of Metulla. At the time that Britain and France decided to establish arbitrary boundaries for what would be Eretz Israel, Metulla became divided, with its agricultural land going to Lebanon and its residential center remaining in Israel. Until the war of Independence in 1948, farmers from Metulla would cross the border to work their lands. Its former agricultural life can still be seen in the many fruit orchards filled with peach, apple and plum trees, vineyards, crops and cattle. Metulla suffered through many attacks from its northern Arab neighbors, and was briefly evacuated in 1920. The original stone houses of Metulla exist to this day, and line the street of Ha-Rishon in the center of town. Many small family-run hotels, guest cottages and tzimmers are within centuries old buildings.
Today, a 7m high, 1,200m long wall separates Metulla from Lebanon and from the rock and sniper attacks leveled at it from Kfar Kila just across the border. 3,000 people make their home in Metulla, and aside from the archaeological attractions, its chief tourist draw is Beit Canada, as it houses the only ice skating rink in Israel. Completed in 1990, the center, popular with professionals and amateurs includes: an Olympic ice skating rink, indoor heated swimming pool, with a Jacuzzi, children’s pool and water slide, basketball and squash courts, a fitness center, table tennis, and full-service spa. In 1996, Beit Canada hosted its first “Skate Israel,” a professional ice skating competition. By 1998, competitors from 22 countries were competing in this annual event.
Stunning views of Israel’s northern mountains can be seen from Metulla, such as Mt. Tsfia, which rises 615m above sea level. To the east is Nakhal Ayun nature reserve. Nearby is Tel Dan Nature Reserve, on ancient Canaanite land which was later apportioned to the Tribe of Dan. The Reserve is filled with stunning archaeological digs and ruins from both these periods, some from as long as 4,000 years ago.
Metulla is easily accessible from Israel’s major highways. Just head in the direction of Kiryat Shmona.