Sea SquillS at Karta Ruins

"The Squills are blooming and summer is running away" - says the ancient Arabic phrase.

There are well-known sites that draw herds of flower lovers every year, to view hundreds of blooming Squills in one spot. Let's hear your "Wow!"

It happens at the end of August and September and into October each year, depending on the area and temperature. The blooming occurs earlier in the colder areas and later in the warm places.

There is something refreshing and optimistic but also melancholic (in the eye of the viewer), a reminder of the past year and cooler days approaching.

The pillars of the Squills suddenly rising from the barren earth, sometimes there is a lonely inflorescence but in some areas hundreds of them together. They look like soul candles, long white strings wrapped in small white flowers, a reminder of the summer that is about to fade and the new year to come.

The flowering takes place across the country for over two months. The last bloom occurs near Arad on the way to the Dead Sea. Although Israelis have seen it many times, each year they are amazed again from the dramatic appearance of the white Squills (Urginea maritime) This bloom became an Israeli icon.

Let's get to know the Squill:
The Sea Squill (common name) is special in its lifecycle and structure: its onions, its leaves, its flowers and its toxic materials. The annual life cycle of the Squill is based on two periods:
In November, the leaves emerge, and the vegetative phase of plant life begins, lasting during the winter and early spring.
At that time, inflorescence is formed but it remains hidden in the onion.
In April, the leaves are withered, and all parts of the plant above the ground are dead. At the end of summer (from July or August) a single flowering white pillar without any green leaves rises for just a few weeks.
This is the sexual reproductive phase, after which once again no living part remains above ground, except the seeds.
The flowering begins from the bottom of the high flower pillar.
Each day a different set of about 30 flowers opens above the previous ones, and the flowers that opened the previous day are withered. It happens every night between 12:00 and 01:00 and it remains open for about 18 hours.
For more details you can visit the Squill page on the website

Best places to experience Squill blossom in Israel:
1) Karta Ruins: A small and not very famous nature reserve, a good reason to visit it during the Squill season, or on the way to.... Located North of Atlit, on a limestone hill, near the seafront and the salt pools of Atlit. On the hill you can find the remains of a Crusader fortress, remains of an ancient quarry and beautiful views of the beach.

How to get there?
From Highway 4, exit at the Atlit interchange. You can park in the Limor car park near the gas station at the northern entrance to the city (south of the Atlit Detention Camp Museum.) Or continue on the road towards the sea and park your vehicle in a parking spot, east of the road near the sign.

Historical background:
The fortress was called in the past "La Detro", and it was built by the Crusaders as a front position to protect the main fortress whose remains are right on the sea.

To the north there is passage to the fort itself. Due to the topographical nature of the area, the flowing water in the Oren stream created wetlands that made the passage - not through the passage impossible.

This passage had always been a subject to robbery attacks and is the reason for the establishment of the fort.

The crusaders who came from Europe provoked the enmity of all countries on their way to Palestine, and especially the Muslims. Therefore, it was difficult for them to cross overland and they remained mainly near the Mediterranean sailing routes, as a way of connecting them to their countries of origin.

The Crusaders made sure to fortify the port cities and protect the roads leading to the land inside.

For decades, the Karta fortress has been used as a road fortress that secured the convoys that traveled along the sea.

The fortress was demolished by the Crusaders themselves about a century after its founding. The small fortress that was evacuated. The reason for this was the Crusaders' desire to avoid a Muslim siege on the tiny fortress, which count not withstand it.

The fort was square and surrounded by walls. Its lower part was hewn in the limestone rock. Nowadays you can see the wall built above the hewn rock and the sockets for tying the horses.

Excavations Inside the fortress and the surrounding area revealed water cisterns and the remains of clay pipes, whose function was to collect rainwater.

To the north of the fort we can find the remains of horse stables. There is a row of cavities, which were probably used for tying the animals. On the southern side of the stables, there is a row of sockets in the wall that were probably used to support the beams of a wooden roof that covered the place.

What can we see?
A short climb of 300 meters brings us to the top of the hill. The trail leads between the bushes of the gum goddess and carob trees of a strange shape created by strong wind and spray from the sea.

The strong smell of Israeli thyme (herb) and from other dry plants will accompany you along the route, here and there you can spot squills and Tall  Sedum sediforme flowers.

Climb to the rooftop balcony to get a 360° panorama of the surroundings.
The huge seafront crusader fortress that it not accessible to the public (Inside a navy base). The salt ponds that are always full of migrating birds and water plants such as the ash, cane, and other plants.

Enjoy the Squills blossom and the trains passing along the seafront every few minutes.

Additional nearby attractions:
Atlit's salt ponds are an attraction for migratory birds.
You can join Tours of the Society for the Protection of Nature on the beaches of Maagan Michael and the salt ponds. It is advisable to inquire at the Nature Protection Society about the tour options at: 03-6388688.

Visit the detention camps that the British setup and imprisoned in them the Jewish immigrants that fled Europe during the holocaust to Israel. Nowadays you can tour the place, browse the documents, watch movies, etc. All for details on the link.

Additional spots to enjoy Squills Blossom:
Akko Hill:
From the Akko junction, drive west towards the city of Acre, after a few hundred meters turn left at Shlom Hagalil Street and after about 200-300 meters, at the square, turn right onto Yigal Yadin Street. Park here.

Pass the iron fence and go up to a set of paths paved by the Akko municipality. Already at the beginning of the trail the Squills blossom. The western slope of the hill is a huge field full of Squills. An amazing sight!
Enjoy many additional attractions in Akko.

Ancient Yodfat:
Yodfat hill Is one of the most loved spots in Israel to enjoy the Squills blossom.

To reach the hill, drive on Road 781 until its end. At the T-junction, turn left onto Road 784 and at Yodfat Junction - to the right on Route 7955 leading to Yodfat. A Blue marked trail exits from the entrance of the settlement southward towards the hill. Park here.
The place offers beautiful views of the environment and allows us to trace the fickle image of Joseph Ben Matityahu, the important historian of the Second Temple period who was the commander of the Great Revolt in the Galilee, and the fate of the barricades there. Visit Israel by Foot website for more details and a short hike in the area. 

More places where Squills may blossom in the season

 Neot Kdumim
Gibton Springs
Dor hill (Tel Dor)– Full details
Muslim Cemetery near Maagan Michael field school
Southern slope of Mount Zion Jerusalem
Metula Cemetery
Beduin village Salame
and more...