A fairytale location, says Israeli photographer Noam Chen, “is someplace you find yourself disconnecting from the troubles of the world, just drowning in the beauty and serenity of the place and forgetting about everything else.”

The fairytale locations he shares here were photographed using his special techniques that turn beautiful landscapes into dreamy scenes with an unreal quality.

Yet these magnificent images do exist in Israel, even if tourists can’t come to visit and enjoy them just yet.

So sit back and let your imagination run wild as Chen’s photos take you to magical places. It’s a perfect antidote to a year of pandemic-induced stress.

Let’s start our fairytale tour up north at Nimrod Fortress in the Golan Heights.

The Nimrod Fortress in the Golan Heights. Photo by Noam Chen.

“It’s the largest fortress in Israel, and its magnitude and lush green surroundings make it feel a proper fairytale location,” says Chen. “You can use your imagination to see royalty there.”

The scenic road to Nimrod Fortress in the Golan Heights. Photo by Noam Chen.

The Golan Heights and the Galilee are blessed with many fairytale-like water elements.

“Among the streams and waterfalls of northern Israel, you can find quiet and mesmerizing little spots that transport you to another place,” says Chen.

Banias waterfall in northern Israel near Mount Hermon. Photo by Noam Chen.
Sa’ar Falls in the Golan Heights. Photo by Noam Chen.

Moving a bit southeast, to the Upper Galilee, we come to the Hula Valley, which has it all: fields of wildflowers, thousands of migrating birds and clear lakes teeming with wildlife.

Wildflowers in the Hula Valley. Photo by Noam Chen.

“It looks very picturesque, and when you get a viewpoint of the entire valley under the snowcapped Hermon Mountain, it makes it look like a fairytale,” says Chen.

The Hula Valley with the snowcapped Mount Hermon in the distance. Photo by Noam Chen.

“When you get there very early in the morning during migration season, it’s really magical with the morning mist and the sound of the birds making it feel surreal and beautiful. It transforms you.”

The early morning mist rolls in over the Hula Valley. Photo by Noam Chen.

Rosh Hanikra in the Upper Western Galilee is famous for its Mediterranean grottos reached by cable car.

The grottos of Rosh Hanikra. Photo by Noam Chen.

“When you go into the grottos, the thing that pops out immediately is the dreamy turquoise color of the water which makes you feel you’re entering another world,” Chen says. “Outside the grottos, the white cliffs overlooking the sea are certainly a fairytale setting.”

The white cliffs of Rosh Hanikra. Photo by Noam Chen.

About 20 minutes south of Rosh Hanikra is Nahariya, a beautiful beach city in the Western Galilee, where Chen spent his childhood.

The Nahariya beach at sunrise. Photo by Noam Chen.
A romantic scene on a Nahariya beach. Photo by Noam Chen.

The Tal Shahar Forest in central Israel, otherwise known as Cyclamen Hill because of the wildflowers that dominate the landscape in February and March, is surely a proper fairytale setting. “You just need a princess in the middle of the field,” remarks Chen.

The sun shining on the cyclamens in the Tal Shahar Forest. Photo by Noam Chen.

Having lived in Tel Aviv and in the United States for many years, Chen came back to the north of Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently relocated to Jerusalem. He’s exhibited across the world and hopes to do his next show in Israel’s capital city.

Just south of Jerusalem is the Gush Etzion region, where you’ll find Herodian (also called Herodium) National Park. Here, in the first century BCE, King Herod challenged the forces of nature by building one of the most daring structures of the ancient world.

“The story behind it is what makes this a fairytale location,” says Chen. “It was a huge palace complex and Herod chose it to be his burial site. The Judean Desert landscape around it takes it to another level.”

Overview of Herodian, an ambitious Roman-era palace complex in the Judean Desert. Photo by Noam Chen.

One of the most popular tourist sites in the southern Judean Desert is the salty Dead Sea, the lowest place on Planet Earth.

“In spite of the fact that it’s a popular tourist destination, the Dead Sea still has many spots that not everyone knows about and that literally looks like an alien landscape with features like salt flats,” says Chen.

Salt flats in the Dead Sea. Photo by Noam Chen.

“It really looks like a different world down here,” he adds. “At sunrise and sunset, there are the most beautiful skies.”

Sunrise over the Dead Sea. Photo by Noam Chen.

And for our last fairytale location, here’s a glimpse of the gorgeous Red South fields of the Negev when carpeted with anemones.

Red South anemone fields in southern Israel. Photo by Noam Chen.

Chen explains that he does not always plan in advance where and when to go and how to take the photo: “I let my eyes lead me, and when I see a scene that can convey I choose to click.”

To achieve his trademark effect, he combines different exposures in order to capture the big contrast between highlights and shadows in the frame.

“The camera’s sensor doesn’t always catch what your eye sees, so you have to work on it afterward to accentuate colors and bring back to life what you saw and what you felt,” says Chen.

“But the most important thing is to keep it real,” he says. Even when the image is the stuff of fairytales.

Noam Chen’s work can be found here.

This article was originally published by Israel21c.


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