The City of...
Zichron Yaakov was one of the first Jewish settlements in the country, founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and named in honor of his father. Zichron Yaacov is the one of the most beautiful city in Israel. It soars high above the Mediterranean coast, delighting all who visit and stroll down its famous Wine Road pedestrian mall, lined with charming old stone shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants, and ending at the celebrated Carmel Winery.
Zichron Yaakov (or simply Zichron as many Israelis call it) sits on a mountaintop, at the southern end of the Carmel Range, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and close to the coastal highway - 36 km (22 mi) south of Haifa and 73 km (45 mi) north of Tel Aviv.
Five Great Reasons to Visit Zichron Yaakov:
• Carmel Winery, established in 1882 by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, is steeped in history and produces some of Israel's finest wines. The location in Zichron features a newly built visitor center with information on ancient and modern winemaking techniques.
There are two tasting rooms, a small cinema, a cask storage room and a dairy restaurant serving hearty meals. Tours, tastings and winemaking workshops are available.
• Locals and tourists alike are drawn to the picturesque setting and the historic town center, with a restored main street of historic buildings - Derech HaYayin (Wine Road) is the original street of the settlement, and many of the houses have plaques that tell their story. Today, this pedestrian mall is lined with cafés, restaurants, galleries and boutiques.
• Gan Hanadiv is the memorial garden of Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The large estate slopes down on Mount Carmel, and its formal gardens are breathtaking. Add to that a cool breeze blowing in from the Mediterranean, as well as the fabulous views, and you'll see why this is one of Israel's most beautiful gardens. The visitor center is an architecturally groundbreaking structure, which tells the story of Ramat Hanadiv (with a great café onsite).
• Zichron enjoys breathtaking views across Israel's Mediterranean Coast and beyond.
• While you're in the area, a must-see archeological gem is Caesarea, an ancient city that was dedicated by Herod the Great to Augustus Caesar more than 2000 years ago. Its claim to fame is a national park that includes an amphitheater, a breathtaking harbor and ruins of a Crusader city. You can easily spend the day here, soaking up the sights and enjoying a fine meal at one of the many restaurants. And let's not forget the world class golf course.
The Nili Museum tells the story of NILI, which is tightly bound with the story of the Aaronsohn family, one of the founding families of Zichron Yaakov (1882), a village that was part of the Ottoman Empire of that time.
The First Aliyah Museum is a memorial to Moshe and Sara Arisohn, and tells the story of the pioneers who came to Israel with the First Aliyah in 1882, especially to Zichron Yaakov.
Ohel Yaakov Synagogue was built by the Baron and named after his father. The 1882 building was designed in a European style, and at the time was the largest and most ornate of the synagogues in the Baron’s settlements.
Don't miss the Caesarea Antiquities Museum, in Kibbutz Sdot Yam, with various archeological finds from the area, including an interesting coin collection, oil lamps, inscribed Jewish gravestones, artifacts found deep in the sea, and much more.
Dor Habonim Beach, a few kilometers north of Zichron, is part of the most beautiful coastal nature reserve in Israel. Bathing here is strictly prohibited, but the landscape compensates for that big time: there is a surprising and pleasant trail here that winds through beautiful lagoons, small pools and tiny bays where you can hide from the rest of the world. The trail is well marked, and spreads over 3 km (2 mi). If you're looking for a little piece of heaven, come to Shells Bay, and if you're searching for a bit of adventure visit the Blue Cave, with seawater flowing underneath the giant rocks.
Sagazura is an Italian eatery and a far cry from the tourist traps of the main drag in Zichron. The décor is intimate and rustic, prices are reasonable, and after you feast on the excellent pizzas, calzones and pastas, you'll no doubt have to go on a long hike to burn those calories.
Picciotto, in the center of Zichron's pedestrian mall, is a surf & turf kind of restaurant, with fresh fish and seafood along with steak and ossobuco, and an authentic Israeli breakfast.
Daniel's is a sleek and modern burger bar, with an extensive American-style menu - including buffalo wings and an extensive hamburger menu.
The Tishbi Winery in neighboring Binyamina offers an Italian restaurant cum wine bar in lovely setting.
One of the best buys in the area is wine.
The two best places for wine shopping as well as tours and tastings are the Carmel Winery in Zichron Yaakov and the Tishbi Winery in neighbouring Binyamina.
A couple of farmers’ yards intersecting with HaMeyasdim Street have been converted to shops, galleries and restaurants.
The same street and Hanadiv Street are also home to a number of specialty stores such as Antikon (56 HaMeyasdim St.), a veritable treasure trove of antique furniture, light fixtures, china, mirrors and more.
Yetzira Mekomit (at no. 52) is a co-op of seven artists, working in different media. This is the place to browse for quirky jewellery, pottery, scarves, woodwork or glassware.
Maoz Haparparim (at no. 51) is a magical store specializing in butterflies (as the name suggests), even though there are also plenty of other art object.
Tips and trips
• Wine is now a big industry across Israel, so if the visit to Carmel Winery wasn't enough, Wine tours in Israel is an interesting and unusual way to see the country.
• An attractive stone structure in Nahsholim, a few kilometers north of Zichron, houses the Glass Factory Museum (HaMizgaga) built in 1891 as a bottle factory for the Carmel Mizrachi Winery.
After standing empty for 80 years, it was renovated and turned into archeological museum, with a display of excavated finds from the area. Some of the permanent collections at the museum are Dreams of Glass (with remains from the site's first incarnation, such as bottles, bricks, tiles and oil lamps),
Treasures of the Sea (with anchors, jars and coins), the Diver’s Room (with a demonstration of a marine archeological excavation), The Women of Dor (ornaments, cosmetics, cookware and ancient weaving tools) and a Night in May (documents from Napoleon's voyage to the Land of Israel).