For thousands of years, Banias, with its cold, flowing waters, has been a holy place to a dozen peoples and half a dozen religions. Banias figures in the New Testament as the place where Jesus designated Peter as "the rock" on which the church would be built. In ancient times the Canaanites, and later the Greeks, built shrines and temples here. The Greek name Paneas (after Pan, the god of pastures, flocks, and shepherds) was modified in Arabic to Banias, as Arabic has no "p" sound. Though an earthquake collapsed the impressive grotto of the Greeks, you can still see little shrines, most of which date from the Hellenistic period. Under the Romans, the settlement was named Caesarea Philippi after Philip, son of Herod, who followed in the ancients' ways and also built a temple.

Christians built a chapel to Saint George on the hillside, which Muslims later converted into a shrine dedicated to El-Khader (the prophet Elijah). A steep path still leads up to the shrine. While the shrine is usually closed, you should still go up for the view.