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Jerusalem, Israel

Israel Sights and Museums
in The South

What today’s headlines mean to tourists to Israel.

Arad Visitors' Center

Arad is located on the border of the Judean Mountains in the West and the Dead Sea in the East. It is an area full of interesting and fascinating sites. Arad is the gate to the Judean Desert and the Visitors' Center provides useful help and guidance. Tel: 07-9954409.

Ashdod

An important port of ancient "giants" (Joshua 11:22). Philistine city, later built up by Uzziah, the King of Judah (ll Chronicles 26:6). Excavations have uncovered Canaanite and Israelite remains fortifications, seals, and cult objects.

Ashkelon

One of the five great Philistine cities, seaside Ashkelon is associated with Samson and Delilah. Its national park holds the ruins of Herodian colonnades, ancient synagogues and an ancient Roman amphitheater.

Avdat National Park

As far back as the 4th century BCE, Nabatean travelers along the "Spice Route", carrying rare and precious commodities from the Far East to Europe, passed through the Negev. Along their route they established way stations for refreshment and protection, Avdat being one of the most important stations. Here you will see two impressive churches, a Nabatean army camp, Byzantine citadel, winepress, pottery workshop, bathhouse, as well as caves, dwellings and burial grounds. Duration of the tour - about 1-1/2 hours.

Beer Sheva

A large southern city, named after the old city which was called Beer Sheva because of the "Shevuoth" oaths of Abraham and Avimelech (Genesis 21, 32) and the oath between Yitzhak and Avimelech (Genesis 26, 33). Called also the capital of the Negev and the city of the forefathers. It was first mentioned in the description of the forefathers' wondering. Later in the period of settlement, Beer Sheva and the area around it were included in the land given to the tribe of Yehudah (Joshua 15, 28) and to the tribe of Simon (Joshua 19, 2). In the time of the Judges it was the dwelling-place of the Judges (Samuel I, 8, 2). The excavations carded out at the Tel revealed a planned fortified city, whose beginning is in the time of the Judges and its greatest glory was achieved at the time of king David and of king Solomon. In the Byzantine era a few churches were built then the city was destroyed until rebuilt by Turks in 1880. In the First World War the British and when the independence War broke out it served as a base for the Egyptian army conquered the town. Then conquered by the Israeli IDF on 21st of October 1948 CE, the "Yoav Campaign". Today it is the Negev center for industry, traffic, trade and services. There is the Negev University, a central hospital, research institutes, theater, museums and a stadium.

Beer Sheva Bedouin Market

The Bedouin Market in Beer Sheba is a weekly fair in which a variety of merchandise is sold. A characteristic and colorful meeting place for Bedouins and merchants. Held on Thursdays from 06:00 to 14:00. Where you can still buy a sheep or camel! Original Bedouin handicrafts such as items made of copper, camel bags, embroideries, and jewelry have become increasingly rare in favor of cheap clothes, baubles and household wares.

Beit Guvrin

LOCATION: Between the Mediterranean Coast and Dead Sea HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: Roman-Crusader DIRECTOR: Michael Cohen, Bar-Ilan University MINIMUM STAY: 2 weeks ACCOMMODATIONS: Kibbutz Bet Guvrin Hostel with pool WHOM TO CONTACT: Michael Cohen, C/o Beit Guvrin Tourism, D.N. Lachish Darom 79370, Israel Tel: 972-7-6874222.

Bedouin Experience


The Museum of Bedouin Culture


BIRDWATCHING SITES IN THE EILOT REGION

North Beach

Arvat Natof
Ringing Station Avrona Ponds
Jordanian Border Alimonim 33 km
Bird Sanctuary Yotvata - Accacia
Nahal Shahamon Yotvata - Palms
Pumping Station Mt. Yoash
Nahal Zomeah Amram Pillars

"Camel Riders"

Offer desert nature exploration and study tours, special programmes for pilgrims incentive groups, workshop groups for music, yoga, alternative medicine, and outdoor building management training in Shaharut khan Tel: 07-6373218, Fax: 07-637194.

Ein Avdat National Park

The Ein Avdat National Park lies along both sides of the Nahal Zin ravine on the northern fringes of the Avdat Heights, which are situated between the anticlines of the central and northern Negev Mountains and average 400-600 meters (1,300-1,950 feet) above sea level. The upper levels of the Avdat Heights comprise strata of hard, white Eocene limestone bearing thin seams of brown-black flint. The basal strata are soft, mainly comprising clays and marls of reddish and greenish hues. In the geological past, before the Arava Valley sank during formation of the Great Rift, the upper channels of Nahal Zin flowed northwest from the Avdat Heights, draining into Nahal Ha-Besor, which in turn flowed into the Mediterranean. With the geotectonic depression of the Arava Valley, height differentials of hundreds of meters were created between the valley floor and the many seasonal streams flowing eastward. Accordingly, a kind of "rearward erosion" took place during rainy seasons in the streams, which leached out the soft underlayers of the ground, causing the collapse of the harder strata of rock above them. Thus the broad ravine of Nahal Zin was created, as was the Zinim Escarpment, which runs continuously for some 20 kilometers (12 miles) along the northern fringes of the Avdat Heights. Also, the channels of Nahal Ha-Besor were diverted eastward toward Nahal Zin -a phenomenon known as "watercourse capture". Differences in the level of the streams flowing on the top of the Avdat Heights and that of Nahal Zin created high waterfalls at the points of confluence. These continued eroding over centuries, cutting steep canyons, towering waterfalls and sheer cliffs tens of meters (dozens of yards) high. According to the concentration of travertine rocks and the remnants of a few prehistoric sites in the area, it can be estimated that the canyon in its present form was created about 45,000 years ago. In its walls, clayey water-bearing strata were exposed which feed the upper spring, Ein Ma'arif, and - in the lower part of the canyon - Ein Avdat and Ein Mor. The springs and their immediate surroundings are like small oases in which there is a profusion of flourishing vegetation. The green Color harmonizes with the whiteness of the limestone strata, presenting a unique landscape, which is among the most beautiful in the Negev. Thick plant growth burgeons along the stream; reeds, bulrushes, salt grass and the desert shrub Nitrarial stand out, and the greenery is ornately embellished by saltbush and tamarisk. Algae grow in the pools, and in places where water drips constantly, there is an abundance of mosses and ferns, mainly maidenhair. A beautiful grove of Mesopotamian Poplar (Populus euphratica) is situated along the upper part of the stream. These are deep-rooted tropical trees, rare in the Negev. At the northern entrance to the canyon grows a lone Atlantic Terebinth (Pistacia atlantica), huge and ancient - about 2.50 years old. This deciduous tree is native to the Irano-Turanian steppe, and bears silent witness to the rainier climate, which at one time held sway in the area. Various animals live in proximity to the water, as do many kinds of birds: swifts, wheatears, partridges and chukars, babblers and desert swallows, even vultures. Especially particular to this place are the rock doves, which nest in natural niches above the small streams. Notable among the mix of indigenous mammals are the ibexes and voles, and a nocturnal rodent, the desert dormouse, which is relatively rare. GETTING TO THE PARK: Access to Ein Avdat National Park is from Highway 40 (the Beer Sheva-Mitzpe Ramon road). There are two entrances to the Park: 1. The Northern Entrance: Between kilometer markers 130-131, turn east, as per the signboard, toward the Sde Boker Academy (Midreshet Sde Boker). Continue following the signs for about four kilometers to the lower parking lot (1 on map). 2. The Southern Entrance: Between kilometer markers 123-124, turn east, in accordance with the signboard. About one kilometer down the road, you will come to the upper parking lot (14), from which you can go to the observation point (10) and the top of Nahal Zin's upper waterfall. Admission to both entrances is permitted on one ticket (on the date of ticket purchase only).

Eshtamoa (A-Samua)

Large Arab village in the south of the Judea hills, about 22 km. south of Hebron. The Biblical town Eshtamoa - a Levitical city in the inherited land of the tribe of Yehudah (Joshua 21, 14). The city is mentioned in the archives of Cairo. In 1966 CE the IDF invaded the village which served as a base for Arab terrorists. In the village there are many remains from the Mishnaic and Talmudic Era; among others: remains of an ancient synagogue (next to the mosque) and a mosaic floor which today is being used as a floor in a living room. There is also a treasure of silver bowls from the 10th and 11th centuries BCE (King David's time).

Gaza

In the southern part of the coastal plain. At Tel Aza remains of the ancient town. Remains of an ancient synagogue, over which a church and an ancient mosque were built, south of the harbor, mosaic floor of a synagogue. In the big mosque building there is a column on which the name "Hannania Ben Yaacov" is inscribed in Hebrew and in Greek under the drawings of a Menorah, a Shofar, a Lulav and Etrog.

Hai Bar Yotvatas

In 1968 the Hai Bar Yotvata Reserve was established, with a view to reintroduce and acclimatizes the desert animals (Wild Ass, White Oryx, and Ostrich). A few herds have already been released to the wild. The predator center is a live exhibition of predators (Birds of prey, Reptiles, and Leopard...). Nightlife Room - an exhibition hall, introducing visitors to animal life in the desert, which takes place mostly at night. Location: Near Kibbutz Samar, 35 km (25 miles) north of Eilat. OPEN: Every day from 08:30. 07-6373057, 6376018.

Hebron

36 km. south of Jerusalem, on the Jerusalem-Beersheva Road. One of the most ancient towns in Eretz Israel, and one of the most sacred to the Jews. In the Bible known also as Kiryat Arba and Mamreh. The Patriarchs Abraham, Yitzhak and Jacob dwelt here and according to tradition are buried here in the Cave of Machpela. A Cannaanita city before the Tribal settlement (Numbers 22, 13). Inheritance of the tribe of Yehudah. Capital of King David before his conquest of Jerusalem. After the destruction of the first Temple, the Edomites controlled it, till Yehuda HaMaccabi expelled them (162 BCE). During the Revolt against Rome, the Romans captured it from Shimon Bar Giora, and destroyed it. After the Arab conquest (7th century CE) the town was called by them EI-Halil - the name for Abraham in the Koran. Jews were allowed by the Arabs to return, the Crusaders expelled them; during the Mameluke period in the 13th century Jews again returned, but the Jewish community only grew after the Turkish conquest in the 16th century. During the British Mandate there was a fairly large Jewish community, which was massacred during the disturbances of 1929 CE. Attempts to re-establish a Jewish settlement stopped with renewed disturbances in 1936 CE. - In the Six Day War, Hebron was captured by the IDF; in 1968 a Jewish neighborhood - Kiryat Arba - was established northeast of the town. The Cave of Machpella. In the old city (where excavations revealed remains from the Israelite period) was bought by the Patriarch Abraham from Ephron the Hitite (Genesis 23,and on). According to tradition Abraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivka, Jacob and Leah are buried there. The building above the cave was erected in Herod's time and extended at later periods. Between the 13th century CE and the Six Day War, Jews were forbidden to approach it beyond the 7th step of the staircase. After Six-Day War it was opened to the Jews, but remains a source of conflict between Jews and Moslems. Modern Hebron has an Arab population of 39,000 inhabitants. However there is a Jewish Quarter, with remains of a Jewish quarter, which was destroyed, in 1929; recently partially renovated and again inhabited by Jews.

Lachish

Moshav on the borders of the coastal plain and Judean Hills, east of the Beit Gubrin-Kiryat Gat road. Tel Lachish: large Tel of fortified city on the road from Philistine coast and from southern coastal plain to the southern Judean Hills, Jerusalem and Hebron. Excavations indicate habitation from the 4th millennium BCE; was a fortified city throughout the Canaanite period. Mentioned as a royal city in EI-Amarnah letters and in the Bible (Joshua 10, 3). Joshua captured it (Joshua 31, 10) and it became an inheritance of the Tribe of Yehudah (Joshua 15, 39). After the division of the kingdoms of Israel and Yehudah, Rechoboam fortified Lachish together with the other southern cities, apparently against the Egyptians (Chronicles II 11, 9). Captured by Sanheriv in 701 BCE (Kings II 18, 13-17); Lachish was rebuilt and re-fortified at the end of the 1st Temple period, as described in the "Lachish letters" from that period, which were found at the Tel. Subsequently destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in his first campaign in 598 BCE (Kings II, 24, 10) and in his 2nd campaign (Kings II, 25, 1). Rebuilt in Shivat Zion period (Nehemiah 11, 30) but did not regain its former greatness. Excavated findings: Canaanite burial ground, temple, gate and double fortification (2 walls) from Israelite period temple and palaces from Persian period (Shivat Zion); the best-known findings were the "Lachish letters" - 21 letters in early Hebrew writing, written in ink on pottery which report on local administration and events of the time - of great importance to the history of the period - the end of the 1st Temple period, before the destruction. Other findings: inscriptions and pottery seals, on one of - which is inscribed: "gedaliahu who is in charge of the House" probably referring to Gedaliahu Ben Achikam (Kings II, 25, 22).

Makhtesh Ramon

A unique desert reserve and the largest makhtesh in the world. A makhtesh is a large depression formed as a result of erosion and destructive processes. These processes have revealed many ancient geological layers and a great variety of colored rocks. The reserve is also a storehouse of archeological treasures. Amongst these the most striking are the crescentic khan - a caravansary on the Nabataean spice road that passed through Makhtesh Ramon from the east to the Mediterranean coast, and additional fortresses and caravansaries. The crater is alive with animals: Birds of prey like Griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, and falcon, and predators such as fox, jackal, and even wolf and caracal inhabit the area. Herds of ibex and gazelle roam the reserve alongside onagers (wild asses) which have been released from Hai-Bar Yotvata and reintroduced into nature some years ago. From the numerous reptiles that can be found in the makhtesh, two merit special mention: the dabb lizard and the Sinai agama. Ramon Park includes three centers of special interest: The visitor center with an audio-visual presentation, ~ exhibit and a three-dimensional model of the makhtesh a desert-life museum, and Yetsiramon - which offers creative activities with natural materials from Makhtesh Ramon, introducing the participants to the character and colors of rock and sand varieties.

Mamshit National Park

Mamshit is the Nabatean City of Memphis. In the Nabatean period, Mamshit was important because it sat on the route from the Idumean Mountains to the Arava, which passed through Ma'ale Akrabim and continued on to Beersheva or to Hebron and Jerusalem. Directions: Mamshit is on Route 25 (Beersheva-Dimona) about 8 kilometers from Dimona in the direction of Rotem junction.

Mareshah

One of the cities fortified by Rehoboam (11 Chronicles 11:8-9). Have a city wall, a marketplace and a temple. The most important finds were texts on limestone tablets.

Neqev Desert

Visitors may be surprised to find agricultural communities and kibbutzim flourishing in this South desert region. The Negev, comprising about half of Israel's land area, is inhabited by only 8 percent of the population, living mainly in the northern part, supported by an agricultural and industrial economy. Further south, the Negev becomes an arid zone characterized by low sandstone hills and plains, abounding with canyons and wadis in which winter rains often produce flash floods. Continuing southward, the region gives way to an area of bare craggy peaks, craters and rock-strewn plateaus, where the climate is drier and the mountains are higher. Three erosive craters, the largest of which is about 5 miles (8 km.) across and 21 miles (35 km.) long, cut deeply into the earth's crust, displaying a broad range of colors and rock types. At the tip of the Negev, near Eilat on the Red Sea, dry gorges and sheer cliffs break sharp pinnacles of gray and red granite, with colorful layers of sandstone glowing in the sunlight.

Nirim

Kibbutz in Northwest Negev, southwest of Maon Junction. Beautiful mosaic floor of a synagogue of Biblical Ma'on.

Sede Boker

In May 1953 David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, visited the bare encampment in the heart of the Negev Desert. He was enchanted by what he found there: a small group of young men and women were trying to create an agricultural settlement within the sandy, barren wilderness. Ben Gurion was so impressed with these youngsters that he resolved, then and there, to become part of the pioneer group. And, indeed, when he retired from the government six Months later he joined the settlement. For Ben Gurion, settling the Negev was a mission of national, military and economic significance. Influenced by biblical Passages describing the ancient Negev's fertility, he believed that the desert could flourish again. Since this area was the largest and least populous part of the country, Ben Gurion considered its development one of the greatest challenges of Modern Israel. In his will, Ben Gurion asked that his house be left as it had been during his lifetime. It is simple home, painted several shades of green, and somewhat larger than others on the kibbutz to enable him to receive heads of state are and other guests are. Opening Hours: Sun. to Thurs. 8:30-15:30, Fri. & holiday eves 8:30-14:00, Sat & Jewish holidays 9:00-14:30 - Tel: 07-6558444; Fax: 6560119

Shivta

Shivta differs from the other Nabatean cities in the Negev Desert in that it does not sit on any commerce route. The settlement was not fortified and therefore can be considered a large agricultural village. Shivta was founded during the early Roman period (first century B.C.E.) and Roman-period ruins are visible in the southern part of the city. Most of the findings, however, are from the Byzantine period (fourth to seventh centuries B.C.E.). Directions: From Route 40 (Beersheva-Shizafon), continue from Telalim junction on Route 211 some 15 kilometers east. At the junction near the gas station, drive approximately 10 kilometers south.
Tel Maresha Site of an ancient settlement on the coastal plain, 2.5 km. south of Beit Gubrin. On lands of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15, 44). Fortified by Rehoboam to secure the road from Lachish to Jerusalem. In the 3rd century BCE it became a Hellenistic center and was captured by Yochanan Horkanus and possibly destroyed. On the Tel are remains of roads and buildings, nearby are burial caves.

Tel Maresha

Site of an ancient settlement on the coastal plain, 2.5 km. south of Beit Gubrin. On lands of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15, 44). Fortified by Rehoboam to secure the road from Lachish to Jerusalem. In the 3rd century BCE it became a Hellenistic center and was captured by Yochanan Horkanus and possibly destroyed. On the Tel are remains of roads and buildings, nearby are burial caves.

Timna Park

Is a unique nature reserve featuring fascinating geological and archaeological sites: Solomon's Pillars, the Mushroom, the Arches and the oldest copper mines in the world, which date back to prehistoric times. Visitors to the Park find breathtaking scenery just as it has been since time immemorial and a kaleidoscope of Color from prehistoric rook formations, which form the backdrop for desert flora and fauna. There is a lake in the Park which serves as a pleasure resort attraction, with its camping ground, restaurant and washroom facilities, All sites are easily accessible by car, though interesting hikes can also be arranged. A video greets visitors on their entrance to the Park, a personal Audio Guide, filling bottles with colored sand; free demonstration of copper production as it was long long ago, guided tours and overnight accommodations at the camping ground-only by prior arrangement. Open daily from 07.30, summers until 18.30, and winter until 17.00 Fax: 07-6356215, 6316756.

Yad Mordechai

Kibbutz on Mediterranean coast, 10 km. south of Ashkelon, on the road to Gaza. Named in honor of Mordechai Anilevitch leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising during World War II. Established in 1943 CE by graduates of the "HaShomer HaTsa'ir" Youth Movement from Poland. In the War of Independence the defenders of the Kibbutz halted the Egyptian advance, but after 5 days of fierce battles and heavy losses, they were obliged to retreat. The place was recaptured 6 months later. The damaged water tower remains as a symbol of the defenders' heroism. Also a Garden of Remembrance to the fallen, a memorial structure of Mordechai Anilevitch; reconstruction of the defense battle of the Kibbutz in the War of Independence, Museum of History of the Holocaust and of the Defense of the Negev.

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