|Location:||Banias. At the foot of Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights. 56 km southwest of Damascus, 40 km north of Lake Galilee, 150 km north of Jerusalem.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|3rd cty BC||begin of Pagan worship.|
|198 BC||the decisive battle between the heirs of Alexander the Great was joined here.|
|2 BC||pagan city founded by Herod Philip and named Caesarea Philippi.|
Panias is a huge karst spring, which is more or less the source of river Jordan. Located in the Golan Heights at the foot of Mt. Hermon, this area is claimed by both Israel and Syria.
In ancient times Panias was an enormous spring, water emerging from a cave called Pans' Cave. The stream is called Nahal Senir and soon merges with two more springs and forms the river Jordan. Today there is much less water, the water no longer runs from the cave, but seeps from the rocks below. The reason is not clear, most likely its because of the deforestation of Mount Hermon. It could also be a result of the realignment of faults in the rock because of earthquakes. And finally it could be a result of ongoing karstification, which widens the lower passages and finally will result in a relocation of the spring.
This place has a very long history which is obvious, because of the geographic benefits of the place. And as long as the history is the list of names given to the place: Baal-gad, Banias, Baniyas, Banyas, Barias, Belinas, Caesarea Neronias, Caesarea of Philip, Caesarea Paneas, Caesarea Panias, Caesareia Sebaste, Keisarion, Kisrin, Medinat Dan, Mivzar Dan, Neronias, Pamias, Paneas, Paneias, Paneion, Panias, Panium. Originally the cave was used for pagan worship, and still there are five votive niches in the cliff wall remaining. The half-man, half-goat god of fright Pan is the base of the word panic and the name Panias. Nearby, todays city of Banias, was called Caesarea Philippi during roman times.
Caesarea Philippi is mentioned in the Bile various times. The great confession and the transfiguration, both occurred in the vicinity of the city (Matt 16:13).