Amazing Things to See and Do in the Judean Foothills

December 10th 2019

Beit Shemesh Caves

To reach Jerusalem from Ben Gurion airport, you’ll inevitably travel through the beautiful Judean Foothills. This is a soft-sloping hilly region of Israel roughly halfway between the Holy City, nestled in the Judean Mountains, and the port city of Ashdod on the Coastal Plain. 

Also known as the Shfela, or Shephelah, the foothills have been the site of many a flourishing civilization and ancient biblical battle. Today, the region is mainly agricultural but features a number of fascinating and visually appealing attractions which provide an insight into this area’s long and varied past. 

When traveling to or from Jerusalem, take a little detour to visit some of the following amazing sites suitable for all age ranges and interests.

Bet Shemesh Stalactite Cave

Just east of Beit Shemesh, a town in the Judean Foothills, is a remarkable cave. The Soreq Stalactite Cave, also known as the Avshalom Cave, contains a dense concentration of stalactites, stalagmites, and other fascinating geological formations. Some of these are more than 300,000 years old. 

The cave was discovered relatively recently during quarrying work in 1968. It was later opened to the public and is now a popular place to view the wondrous formations produced by thousands of years of rainwater seeping through rock.

Latrun Tank Museum and Memorial

Just off Route One – the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway – is the Latrun Tank Museum. Housed in what was formerly a police base during the British Mandate, the museum sits on a strategic hilltop which affords impressive views of the surrounding region (including the nearby Latrun Trappist Monastery). It was the site of battles during the Arab-Israeli wars and later became the nation’s main memorial (Yad La-Shiryon) for the Israeli Armored Corps. 

A tank museum was established and today it’s a fascinating place to visit to learn more about Israel’s tanks and armored brigades, both past and present. You can touch many of the exhibits and there are a number of video presentations and guided tours. 

Mini Israel Park

If you’re touring Israel for a week or two, then it’s unlikely you’re going to see everything. That’s why a visit to the Mini Israel Park near Latrun can provide a fun and insightful overview of this amazing little country. You literally get to see all of Israel in miniature form. 

At a scale of 1:25 and covering over 15 acres, Mini Israel contains 385 exact replicas of some of the most important sites located throughout Israel. It’s a great attraction for all ages and motorized carts are available for visitors who can’t walk too far. 

A 3-D movie of Israeli landscapes can also be viewed at the Visitor’s Center and there’s an engaging multimedia playground for kids, plus a whole lot more. 

Britannia Park

After a few days exploring ancient cities and towns, you might feel like a walk in nature. Beautiful woodland in the Judean Foothills can be found in the Britannia Park, an area of stunning greenery cultivated by the Jewish National Fund since the 1950s. 

The forested hills are a wonderful place to go walking and exploring. Within the Park are a number of archeological sites, hiking trails, picnic areas, camping grounds, and intriguing natural formations including caves, pits, and wells. 

Plus, there’s a wealth of flora and fauna, including mountain gazelles, rabbits, owls, and cuckoos. It’s an ideal natural getaway for people of all ages. And it has some stunning views.