May 6th 2015
Just south of Jerusalem lies a cluster of approximately 20 Jewish communities known collectively as Gush Etzion, the Etzion block. Gush Etzion is located among the Judean Hills and is home to a wide range of historic and recreational sites.
Kfar Etzion, home to the Lone Tree Brewery, is also among the oldest kibbutzim in Gush Etzion. A modest museum in Kfar Etzion, currently scheduled for renovation, tells the story of the brave settlers who defended the region during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. Prepare yourself for a dramatic moment at the very end of the tour.
Massuot Yitzhak, a religious kibbutz that was destroyed in 1948’s War of Independence, today is home to a JNF forest, a children’s playground and an observation point, from which visitors can take in the hilly terrain between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem. As you approach Gush Etzion from the west, you’ll come upon the legendary Battle Hill. This is where 35 Israeli soldiers fell in 1948. They were on a mission to bring reinforcements to the Gush Etzion settlements that were under attack during the War of Independence.
Go further back in time with a visit to Herodium (Herodion) National Park. Built between 3,600 and 4,400 year ago, the Herodion fortress is the only site that is named after King Herod, one of the most accomplished builders of his time. Herodium is the highest peak in the entire Gush Etzion area and is believed to be the burial place of King Herod.
If you love nature, visit the Haritoun Cave in Gush Etzion. An impressive natural rock cave, at just under three miles long, it’s the longest cave in Israel. Entry is restricted to those traveling with authorized guides.
If you’re traveling with teens, consider a visit to Deer Land Adventure Park, just outside of Kfar Etzion. At Deer Land, your teens will be entertained with plenty of extreme sports options, including paintball, bungee trampoline, ropes course, horseback riding and two omega zip lines.
If a visit to a winery is more your speed, Gush Etzion has those as well. Tour the renowned Gush Etzion Winery and then enjoy a relaxed meal at the facility’s kosher dairy restaurant, where you can dine outdoors, overlooking the vineyards.
All this, and much more, are available to explore in the Gush Etzion region.