Originally posted: http://allaboutjerusalem.com/article/nature-and-heritage-sites-judea-and-samaria

En Prat (Prat Stream) Nature Reserve

Delightful springs in the Judean Desert

En Prat, the perennial and uppermost spring in the Prat Stream (Wadi Qelt) attracts a wide variety of animals and flourishing vegetation; its oasis scenery reminds visitors of the shepherd’s desert refuge of Psalm 23. The prophet Jeremiah hailed from nearby Anatot, and some 1,600 years ago the Christian monk Haritoun sought the solitude of this region to enrich his spiritual life. The ancient monastery he founded, nestled among the cliffs, is still active and occasionally welcomes visitors. A scenic road, shady bends in the trail and natural wading pools are all part of the enchanting scene. En Mabo’a, another beautiful spring, is located downstream near the community of Alon.

Visiting hours
April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
On Fridays and holidays eves the reserve closes one hour earlier.

Entrance fees
Adult: 20 NIS; child 9 NIS
Group (over 30 people): Adult 17 NIS; child 8 NIS
Israel Nature and Parks Authority subscribers: free.

Guided tours
Group tours are available in English at a fee by reservation: phone/fax 02-6541255.

How to get there
From Jerusalem’s French Hill intersection, follow the signs to the north-Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev. Drive through Pisgat Ze’ev and continue to the Hizmeh checkpoint; pass it and turn right (east) at the traffic circle onto road 437. Drive about two kilometers to the left turn to Almon (Anatot). Enter the community, and follow the signs.

Phone at the site: 057-8936708; 057-8936709;
email: st-prat@npa.org.il

Read more about the En Prat Nature Reserve (+ video)Wadi Qelt – En Prat

Photo: Ron Peled

Nebi Samwil National Park

“Mount of Joy”

This site is considered sacred as the traditional burial place of the prophet Samwil, and is identified by some scholars as Ramathaim Zophim (1 Samuel 7:17), where Samwil lived. An impressive medieval fortress, marking the place where the Crusaders first saw Jerusalem, therefore naming it “Mount of Joy”. The mountaintop location of Nebi Samwil, 904 meters above sea level, indeed reveals as impressive view of Jerusalem and the mountains of Judea and Samaria. A synagogue, mosque, spring and impressive archaeological remains are among the attractions at the site.

Guided tours
Group tours are available in English and Russian at a fee by reservation:
phone/fax 02-6541255

How to get there
Nebi Samwil is located between the northwest Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot and the town of Giv’at Ze’ev. It may be reached from Ramot or via road 433 from Giv’at Ze’ev.

Phone at the site: 02-5863281

Qumran National Park

Where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found

The remains of the ancient settlement of Qumran lie in the shadow of the majestic Judean Desert cliffs on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Scrolls – the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible – came to light in caves in these cliffs in 1947. The scrolls also reveal fascinating aspects of the life of the Jewish community that lived here during the Second Temple period. Among that group’s most important tenets was the spiritual act of water immersion; many scholars believe that John the Baptist may have been a member of this sect. An exciting audiovisual presentation is part of the visitor experience at Qumran, along with a walk through the interesting archaeological remains and a view of the famous caves.

Visiting hours
April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
On Fridays and holidays eves the site closes one hour earlier.

Entrance fees
Adult: 20 NIS; child 9 NIS
Group (over 30 people): Adult 17 NIS; child 8 NIS
Combination ticket to Qumran and the nearby springs of Enot Tsukim: Adult 36 NIS; child 18 NIS
Group combination ticket: Adult 32 NIS; child 17 NIS
Israel Nature and Parks Authority subscribers: free.

Guided tours
Group tours are available in English at a fee by reservation: phone/fax 02-6541255

How to get there
From the road along the Dead Sea (no. 90), turn west to Kibbutz Kalia and follow the signs.

Phone at the site: 02-9942235

Read more abouut the National Park of Qumran (+ video)

Herodium (Herodion) National Park

A fortified palace between the Judean Desert and Jerusalem

Herodium was constructed by Herod the Great, during whose reign Jesus was born, as a combination opulent palace and well-guarded fortress. This cone-shaped artificial mountain was highly significant to the ‘builder king’; in fact, it is the only place in the world Herod named after himself, and the one he chose as his final resting place. Herodium also has hideout tunnels from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (second century CE), remnants of a synagogue and a church, a magnificent view and the remains of Herod’s tomb.

Visiting hours
April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
On Fridays and holidays eves, the site closes one hour earlier.

Entrance fees
Adult: 25 NIS; child 13 NIS
Group (over 30 people): Adult 21 NIS; child 12 NIS
Israel Nature and Parks Authority subscribers: free.

Guided tours
Group tours are available in English and Russian at a fee by reservation:
phone/fax 02-6541255

How to get there
From Jerusalem: Before the entrance to the south-Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, turn right at the second exit from the traffic circle. Drive approximately seven kilometers on the Har Homa-Teko’a –Nokdim road (no. 356). Turn left approximately two kilometers before the Teko’a junction, following the signs to Herodium (Herodion) National Park.

Phone at the site: 050-6235821; 057-7761143;
email: gl-erodyon@npa.org.il

More about HerodiumHerodion / Herodium

Photo: Ron Peled

Enot Tsukim (En Fashkha) Nature Reserve

The lowest nature reserve in the world

The enchanting oasis of Enot Tsukim is located on the north shore of the Dead Sea, between the Mountains of Moab in the east and the Judean Desert in the west. Here, the biblical verses come alive in which water in the desert symbolizes redemption, such as Isaiah 12:3: “with joy draw waters from the wells of salvation.” Visitors can take guided tours on the ‘hidden reserve’ rich in flora and fauna, watch the weaver ant at work in the tamarisk trees and wade in the fresh-water springs. (Please note: There is no access to the Dead Sea from the reserve.)

Visiting hours
April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
On Fridays and holidays eves the reserve closes one hour earlier.

Entrance fees
Adult: 25 NIS; child 13 NIS
Group (over 30 people): Adult 21 NIS; child 12 NIS
Israel Nature and Parks Authority subscribers: free.

Guided tours
Group tours are available in English at a fee by reservation: phone/fax 02-6541255.

How to get there
The Enot Tsukim reserve is located on the northern Dead Sea coast along road 90, three kilometers south of Kibbutz Kalia, turning east at the sign.

Phone at the site: 02-9942355; fax: 02-9947815;
email: st.einot-tzokim@npa.org.il

Read more about the En Fashkha Nature Reserve (+ video)The Hidden Reservoir in Ein Feshkha

Photo: Ron Peled

The Monasteries of Euthymius and Martyrius

Communities of faith on the edge of the desert

The Monastery of Euthymius
This monastery is named after the Armenian monk Euthymius, a founder of monasticism in the Judean Desert in the Byzantine period. The site features remains of an extensive, walled communal monastery, at the heart of which was a large church and the cemetery containing the tomb of Euthymius.

How to get there

The site is located off the Jerusalem-Dead Sea road in the industrial park of Mishor Adummim, east of the city of Ma’ale Adummim.The water cistern by Euthymius monastery

Photo: Ron Peled

The Monastery of Martyrius
Martyrius, the founder of this large communal monastery, arrived in the Judean Desert in 457 CE and became one of Euthymius’ most outstanding disciples. Excavations of the monastery have revealed a church, numerous mosaics, a dining room, stables and an inn for pilgrims.

How to get there
The monastery is located in the center of the city of Ma’ale Adummim. Off the Jerusalem-Dead Sea road; follow the signs.

Entrance fees
Free until further notice.

Visiting hours and guided tours
Visits and group tours in English and Russian may be arranged by reservation: 02-5417555.

Read more about the Euthymius &  Martyrius monasteries (+ video)The mosaic in the kitchen of Martirius Monastery

Photo: Ron Peled

Baptismal Site at the Jordan River (Qasr al-Yahud)

Land of the monasteries

The site of Jesus’ baptism by John (Matthew 3:13), at the southern end of the Jordan River, has for centuries been a sacred pilgrimage destination on a par with Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem. Like many Christian holy places, the place of Jesus’ baptism is also revered as an Old Testament sacred site: tradition says this is the site where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land (Joshua 3:14), and where Elijah the prophet ascended to heaven in his fiery chariot after he bestowed the mantle of prophecy on Elisha (2 Kings 2:11). The first monks arrived here in the fourth century, marking the sacred sites with churches and monasteries whose remains can still be seen. Nearby is the picturesque monastery and church of Deir Hagla (possibly named after Bet Hoglah of Joshua 18:19).

Visiting hours
Visits to the site are by pre-arrangement on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays,
9 A.M.-1 P.M.

Guided tours
Group tours are available in English at a fee by reservation: phone 02-6541255.

How to get there
The site is located north of the Dead Sea. Drive on highway 1 east to the Bet Ha’arava junction. Turn north onto road 90, the Jericho detour road, and drive about 2.5 kilometers to a signposted right turn (east). Entrance to the site is through the security fence by pre-arrangement.

To arrange a visit: fax 02-9947815 or phone the INPA information line: *3639.

Read more about the Baptismal Site (+ videos)The Jordan River where Juses was baptized

Photo: Gad Rize

The Inn of the Good Samaritan

Colorful mosaic and a chapel at a ‘good turn’ in the Jericho road

This evocative backdrop for Jesus’ well-loved parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is also an Old Testament site – the Pass of Adummim (Josh. 15:7). It has long been a strategic point on the Jericho road, affording a dramatic view of Jerusalem in the distance – the first for pilgrims through the ages approaching the Holy City from the east. Archaeologists have unearthed Second Temple-period remains at the site and a church from the Byzantine period, when the place became a destination for Christian pilgrimage. A museum, an outdoor shaded chapel of colorful Jewish, Christian and Samaritan mosaics are special attractions.

Visiting hours and guided tours
Visits and group tours in English and Russian may be arranged by reservation:
phone 02-5417555.

Entrance fees
Free until further notice.

How to get there
The Inn of the Good Samaritan is located off the Jerusalem-Dead Sea road, east of the city of Ma’ale Adummim.

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