Hamat Gader

The British Mandate’s borders included Hamat Gader and the narrow strip of road leading to it. (The French mandate in Syria began just north of the road.) The British awarded management of the springs to an Arab, apparently in return for intelligence services. When Syria conquered Hamat Gader in 1948 the Arab smuggled his Jewish partner to safety. The 1949 armistice agreement awarded the road and springs to Israel but forbade Jewish settlement there. In 1950 the SyHamat_gader_at_nightrians annexed the territory, and when Israel sent a police patrol to demonstrate a presence and protest the annexation, the Syrians attacked it and killed seven policemen. In 1967 Israel returned to Hamat Gader. The resort built just after the war was destroyed by terrorists in 1969, and rebuilt n 1977 by the Golan kibbutzim.
Left of the entrance there is alligator farm. The reptiles were imported from Florida as a tourist attraction. They thrive here, and now Israel raises them for export.
On the hill  are remains of a 15-row Roman theatre seating 2,000 and a Roman baths. There are four hot mineral springs and one fresh water spring. Each has a different chemical composition, and their temperatures range from 42 to 52°C. In the second century, residents of the nearby Roman city of Gader built a bath house around the springs, which quickly earned a reputation as one of the most beautiful in the entire Roman empire.
Steam rising from the water created a mystical, romantic atmosphere. One spring was named for Eros, another for Anteros (the god of mutual love, who punished those who did not reciprocate love), and miraculous stories were told about them.  A Christian source warns that Satan lurks in the baths because men and women bathed there together. There are six pools. The water of each was a different temperature, and bathers passed from pool to pool. Walk through the entrance plaza, turn right, and walk under the arch into the Hall of Pilasters (*4 on the park’s map). It’s ceiling was 14 metres high. Parts of a marble floor and Corinthian capitals have been uncovered. Idols stood in the three niches on the far side. This pool probably had lukewarm water.

The Lepers’ Pool
Exit on the far side of the Hall of Pilasters and turn right towards the Lepers’ Pool. Many third and fourth century clay oil lamps were found here, corroborating the description recorded by a visitor in 570: ‘Opposite the hot pool is a large bath. When it is filled, the doors are closed and lepers are brought in through the gate, with lamps and incense. They sir in the bath all night, and when they fall asleep, the one who will be cured sees a vision.’ The pool was named for Elijah the prophet, who healed the sick.
The Oval Pool and the Hall of Niches
Pass the Lepers’ Pool and continue left to the Oval pool. This pool is 23.8 X 11.9 metres, and a massive domed ceiling rose over ten-meter-high walls. Hot water was piped directly from the spring outside; lead pipes brought cold water to the six fountains around its edge. On the far side of the pool you can see the hot spring. Walk past the pool with the Greek inscription and exit on the left side into the Hall of Niches. Imagine the marble-walled spa, steam rising around the bathers. The Romans would plant spies here to pick up information from relaxing guests. The Talmud mentions professional hair-pluckers and stand-up comedians performing in the bath houses.
The baths were apparently destroyed by an earthquake in seventh- century and, according to an Arabic inscription dating from 662, rebuilt by the Arabs. The inscription was plastered over along with the decorative images of animals, probably in the eighth and ninth centuries when Moslem iconoclasts destroyed all human and animal images. By the tenth century the baths were no longer maintained.
Exit the baths up the staircase and turn left. Walk back around the baths, and continue on the unmade path straight ahead to the army post and basalt chairs at the top of the hill.
The Synagogue
As you approach the army post, a Byzantine period synagogue is on your right.  Its five Aramaic inscriptions name donors. Columns arranged in a ‘U’ supported the ceiling, and the apse faced south towards Jerusalem. The basalt chairs next to the army post were uncovered during the excavation in 1932. The mosaic floor was excavated and documented, then the synagogue was reburied and awaits a suitable building to protect and exhibit it. A copy of the floor is on display at the Gordon Museum at Degania.