I always knew my country has quite the history but the caves of Beit Govrin amazed me!
Beit Goverin Caves are definitely on my list of Top Things to do in Israel. This national park is a UNESCO heritage site and includes the ruins of the biblical town of Merasha (an important town from the period of the first temple), different caves from the Roman times, St. Ana church and a viewpoint looking over green mountain and valleys.
Located south of Jerusalem, it’s about an hour drive from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv (about 50 km). the park is quite big so you will most likely take your car from one parking spot to another and walk towards the different sites in each stopping point. Another great option is to do the whole park by bike!
We did it in a car and it took us between 2-3 hours to see pretty much everything.
When you enter the site you will have to pay between 20-30 NIS (about 7-10 USD) and you will be given a detailed map with everything there is to see and how to get to each place. (check prices here).
The coolest caves Beit Govrin has to offer are the Bell caves, which received the name because of their bell shape formation. They were formed as people dag a small hole on the surface that expanded downwards into the ground. they had a very large variety of uses. there are about 800 (!) caves in the are and many of them are connected through underground passages.
The other cave we really liked was the Columbarium that was used to bread pigeons for commercial uses and for their meat. this cave was deep in the ground and included many small niches in the walls that used to house the pigeons. you could even see a few pigeons flying around during your visit.
The last cave I would recommend visiting is the Sidonian burial caves that belong to a wealthy family (Apollophanes). ton the walls of this cave you will see paintings of different animals (Some of them, mythical creatures- like a three-headed dog). Next, to it, you can find the tomb of musicians that was closed during our visit.
Apart from the caves if you walk about 500 meters from one of the parking spots you will see the relics of St. ana church from the Byzantine period.
finally, you should definitely check our Tel Marsha viewpoint, a wide terrasse that will allow you to admire the fantastic views around you.
The only site that did get us super excited was the Roman amphitheater found outside the park (on the other side of the road) it was built during the 2nd century but was uncovered relatively recently (minus 1990’s). I had visited Italy a couple of months later and we were already towards the end of our trip so we didn’t think the small arena was too amazing. if you do choose to go see it (you might as well since you’re there), don’t forget to keep your receipt in order to enter the site (we forgot but showed them our map and they let us in).
Pro Tip: between one site to another there is grass and trees as well as picnic tables and benches. You should consider bringing a light meal and enjoying eating it surrounded by history. In case you forgot to pack lunch, on their way back on Shabat (Saturday) you will find a Drusian pita stand on the side of the road. The family that runs it will serve you with delicious warm pita with different spreads.
Recommended route– Start off with the bell caves, then move on to the burial cave and finish with the pigeon’s caves and the viewpoint (located alongside the same parking spot).
Hours: 8:00- 16:00/17:00 (check hours here).
Who should go there? the park is easily accessible by car and suitable for history buffs, solo travelers, families. Different sites require to go down narrow stairs so it’s not suitable for people with limited movement.
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