"There's a whole world out there, right outside your window. You'd be a fool to miss it." Charlotte Eriksson
I lived in Jerusalem for over 40 years and believed that there is no place like it. I loved the hills that embraced the city, I loved walking through the Jerusalem forest near my home, pine cones crackling under my feet. But then fate (and my children) brought me to Ramat Gan. A very different place indeed: not a city nestled high among the pines, not a city with ancient cobblestone or a biblical capital - but a city with a Park.
Here I discovered the National Park of Ramat Gan. On my first visit, I had the feeling that I had been transported to a faraway, magical corner, unlike any that Jerusalem has to offer. When my friends from the Capital came to visit, the first stop was the Park and they were as impressed as I.
When I enter the National Park in Ramat Gan, my heart expands, my senses quicken, yet a sense of calm and tranquility enters my being. And each visit brings renewed appreciation for the gift the first Mayor of Ramat Gan, Avraham Krinitzi, bequeathed to the residents and to all who come to enjoy it.
In 1940 Krinitzi, then head of the Ramat Gan Local Council, visited Central Park in New York and was smitten with the idea of a park for the people in the middle of the city.
In 1926, the Mandatory Palestine government granted Ramat Gan the status of a local council, and Krinitzi became its first Head. On January 21, 1950, Ramat Gan changed its character and dimension and was recognized as a City, with Krinitzi as its first Mayor, holding this position till his death in 1969.
Development began in February 1951 with school kids planting trees for Tu b'shvat and two years later, the park opened to the public. In 1959, an artificial lake was created, which was expanded throughout the years. Recently a beautiful waterfall has been added on its southern shore.
The park covers nearly 2 sq. kilometers. It is the second largest urban park in Israel, after the Yarkon Park, and it attracts almost 800,000 visitors annually. The renowned Ramat Gan Safari is right next door.
I am fortunate to live near the park, and a 15 minute walk brings me to its gates, where I am greeted by the squawking of ducks as they relate the early morning news to each other. The long-legged white ibis sits so majestically on the edge of the lake looking at its own reflection in the water, the cormorants swooping from the trees and soaring in circles overhead; Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, paddling bill to bill, heads nodding up and down as they cackle to each other. If only I could understand the wonderful tales they are sharing (I imagine they're remarking on all the funny people that stop and stare at them, clicking away at them with their phone camera); and the amazing sight of the local cats sunning amidst the families of feathered friends.
There is always something exciting and new to see in the park, recently-hatched, furry ducklings, the spice garden where the picking is free, the rows of flowers planted so thoughtfully by the park crew. The children's play area has supplied my grandchildren with hours of activity- and me with the needed bench.
The Eucalyptus grove, newly named for Naomi Shemer, provides a welcome and tranquil shade. These towering trees, first brought to the country to absorb the dangerous swamp waters that were fertile beds of malaria-bearing mosquitos, have remained long after the swamps were cleared, and stand to this day.
The National Park is a sprawling expanse, drawing fishermen, volleyball players, soccer lovers and picnicking families. It is a perfect venue for photographing brides and grooms who pose at the waterfall.
It is not unusual to see a variety of two-wheeled conveyances circling around the park, bikers, skaters, even the wheelchair bound, enjoying the sights and sounds.
The park is home to a cactus museum, with a wide variety of types in all sizes and shapes, some small and dainty, others reminiscent of The Little Shop of Horrors.
The Natural History Museum stands in the center of the green, flourishing park of Ramat Gan, where the exciting story of living things and the beautiful complexity of the relationships amongst them are on display.
So when you are looking for a place to go to uplift your soul, to experience astonishing beauty or just stretch your legs, turn on Waze and enter Park Haleumi Ramat Gan. I promise a treat, leaving you wanting more.
Park Leumi Ramat-Gan
Tel. 03 631 5010