Getting Close to Nature and History in Gush Etzion

January 3rd 2019

Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem, is a beautiful area in the Judean Mountains comprised of Jewish agricultural villages and resplendent green landscapes. The hilly region has a long and fascinating history owing to its proximity to the Holy City. In more recent times, the area saw both tragedy and renewal as the original villages were first destroyed and then later rebuilt.

All of these stories can be discovered when visiting the communities surrounding (and symbolized by) the famous Lone Oak Tree. Today Gush Etzion is a thriving and much-visited area of Judea & Samaria (also known as the ‘West Bank’). There are activities for all the family to enjoy, delicious foods to try, and some amazing areas of natural beauty to view.

The following are some beautiful natural areas to explore when visiting Gush Etzion:

Shomron National Park

The Shomron National Park is most famous for the ruins of the ancient city of Shomron (also known as Samaria). Located approximately seven miles northwest of Nablus, the park features the remains of what was once the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, around 30 centuries ago. Visitors can view the stone ruins of a fortress, a royal palace, a plaza, a stadium, and numerous private dwellings, as well as hundreds of columns built by King Herod the Great.

Herodium National Park

The Herodium National Park is located 7.5 miles south of Jerusalem, near to Bethlehem. The park is home to an ancient palace fortress and town built between 23 and 15 BCE by King Herod. In 2007, Israeli archeologists discovered what is believed to also be the Tomb of Herod, on the hill leading up to the small town of Herodium.

The remains of the palace, fortress, town, and tomb are all open to the public and include bathhouses, courtyards, theatres, ancient walkways, underground tunnels (built by Jewish resistance fighters) and one of the oldest synagogues in the wider Levant region.

Deer Land

The Deer Land Adventure Park is located right in the center of Gush Etzion’s Ella Valley. It’s a beautiful place for adults and children alike and hosts a variety of fun activities. These include rock wall climbing, bungee trampolining, paintballing, 4×4 Jeeping and, perhaps most well-known of all, the longest zip line in the country!

The park is also a nature reserve and is home to several species including, most notably, deer. There’s a special feeding and petting area where children get to see the deer up close.

Gush Etzion Winery Tour

The Gush Etzion Winery provides visitors with an exciting tour of the winery and surrounding vineyards. Set in the beautiful countryside of Gush Etzion, the boutique winery is an excellent location for visitors looking for a hands-on agricultural experience. During the summer grape harvesting season, guests can take part in picking grapes in the sun-soaked vineyards.

There’s also a full tour of the winery and wine production process as well as a chance to sample the delicious local produce in the on-site kosher restaurant.