The Jerusalem hills region is located within the much broader Judean Mountains region that extends into the West Bank area - this region was captured by the Jewish fighters during the 1948 Israeli-Arab War (it was initially designated by the UN to become partly part of a future Palestinian-Arab state and partly an internationally-controlled area).
The average height of the Jerusalem Hills is about 650 meters above sea level.
Hebrew. In some Arab villages you can talk Arabic. English is widely understood.
Cities and villages
- Jerusalem - Israel's capital and the largest populated city which is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city contains the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old City. The city is sacred for both Jews, Christians and Muslims.
- Mevaseret Zion - a town overlooking Highway 1 (the principal route connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv) which is the second largest town in the Jerusalem hills region. The Castel Mountain located in the center of the town, and the routes along it, were the focus of major battles in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
- Abu Ghosh - An Israeli-Arab village located on Route 1 which is mainly known for its many successful restaurants.
Highway 1 is an east-west highway the goes through the Jerusalem hills regions and is the main highway connecting Tel Aviv with Jerusalem. The road begins in Tel Aviv (at the Kibbutz Galuyot Interchange) on the west coast of Israel and ends in the east at the Jordan Valley (at the Beit HaArava Junction). It is 94 km long.
- Sacred Sites
- Church of Our Lady of the Covenant, Abu Ghosh, ☎ +972 2-5342818. Monday–Saturday between 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM, and between 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM. Located at the north-west part of the village of Abu Ghosh. The church is located at the summit of Tel Kiryat Ye'arim. The site is identified with the biblical Kiryat Ye'arim, where the Ark of Covenant was brought after it was captured back from the Philistines. The biblical story was the impetus to constructing a church at this site. A church was first constructed at this site during the Byzantine period, which was later on destroyed in 614 during the Persian conquest of the region. The church was established in 1924 together with a women monastery on the remains of the Byzantine period church. Since the 1980s music festivals have been held occasionally at the church. Free.
- The Benedictine monastery in Abu Ghosh. located at the center of the village of Abu Ghosh, and is best known for the Crusader church that contains remains of a 12th-century frescoes. The church was built over a spring. Abu Ghosh's main mosque is adjacent to the monastery.
- The ancient synagogue of Motza. A synagogue built on the remains of an ancient building estimated to be from the Crusader period. The synagogue was built in 1871 by Joshua Yellin to be used as a motel for people traveling to Jerusalem from Jaffa. An archaeological site is adjacent to the synagogue which contains artifacts from the Second Temple period.
- The Chechen mosque in Abu Ghosh. The second largest mosque in Israel. The mosque has four minarets and is was donated and built with the sponsorship of the Chechen government.
- Natural springs
- Ein Hemed National Park. a small national park and nature reserve located about seven kilometers west of Jerusalem which contains natural springs and the remains of a fortified crusader farm.
- Ein Tzova. A natural spring which since the Second Temple period has been continuously been used to irrigate surrounding fields in addition to being used as a source of drinking water for local villages.
- The Armored vehicles monument near the Gai Gate. Remains of Palmach armored vehicles that were destroyed by the Jordanian Legion forces while trying to break the blockade of Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
- Additional points of interest
- The Kastel National Park. an Israeli national park which consists of a fortified summit at the site of the former Arab village of Al-Qastal. It is located 8 km west of Jerusalem on Highway 1. The site is mostly known as the place of the key battles of Operation Nachshon which were held there in April 1948 in which the Jewish fighters defeated the Arab fighters during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The national park includes a memorial for the Jewish soldiers whom died in these battles (including a monument designed in 1980 by Yitzhak Yamin) and a memorial for the armored vehicles whom tried to break through the blockade of Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
- The dinosaur footprints at Beit Zayit.
- Mount Tzova. An ancient archaeological site containing the remains of the Crusader Belmont fortress.
- The Cave of John the Baptist. A very large and elaborate water cistern carved in a rock. During the First Temple period water used to be stored in it as it was mainly used for agricultural purposes. After the destruction of the First Temple, and after the Jewish population returned to the region after the Babylonian exile period, the cistern was used as a Mikveh (bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism). During the 4th century the site became a popular place of pilgrimage and worship for John the Baptist, and on the caves walls drawings were carved which relate to John the Baptist or to Christianity.
- The Biblical Park. An eight acres park in the Yad HaShmona moshav which shows the lifestyle and culture of the residents living in this region during the Bible period, as well as the Talmud and Mishnah periods. The park includes orchards, fields, vineyards, and restored paths, as well as authentic archaeological findings.
- Kiftzuba. Amusement park.
Festivals and Events
- The Abu Ghosh Festival of Music is held every year during the fall and late spring. As part of this music festival various Israeli and international musical groups perform in some of the oldest churches located within the village of Abu Ghosh.
- The Harel Mall, located in Mevasseret Zion, ☎ +972 2-5335416. Open Sunday through Thursday between 9:00 am - 9:00 pm, at Friday between 9:00-3:00 pm and on Saturday from dusk until 10:30 pm.
Eat and Drink
Abu Ghosh restaurants
Abu Ghosh is famous for its food, particularly its hummus (chick pea paste). One of the restaurants in Abu Ghosh held a Guinness record for Largest serving of hummus of 4 Tons.
- Lebanese Restaurant, 88 HaShalom Street, Abu Ghosh, ☎ +972 2-533-5561. This restaurant, as its name would suggest, specializes in serving traditional Arab cuisine in the Lebanese style. The Lebanese Restaurant is frequented by locals, Israelis and tourists alike and serves, amongst other reasonably priced delicacies, what is arguably the country's best hummus. Many Israeli notables have eaten here and in good weather you can eat under the Mulberry tree that this gem of a restaurant is built around.
- Abu Ghosh Restaurant, 65 HaShalom Street, Abu Ghosh, ☎ +972 2-533-2019. 11:00 AM to midnight. The restaurant is open seven days a week starting from 11:00 am to midnight. The restaurant specializes in serving traditional Arab cuisine, as well as stuffed fish. 40-100 NIS.
- Mifgash Caravan Restaurant, HaShalom Street 27, Abu Ghosh, ☎ +972 2-5342744. The restaurant is open seven days a week between 10:00 am to 10:30 pm. The restaurant specializes in serving traditional Arab cuisine
- Naura, HaVadi Street 9, Abu Ghosh, ☎ +972 2-5341175. The restaurant is open every day of the week, starting from 09:30 am until the last customer. The restaurant specializes in serving traditional Arab cuisine
- Breakfast menu
- Muse in the Mountain. The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 am until the last customer. On Saturdays the restaurant opens at 12:00. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
- Shoresh Breakfast.
- Derech HaGeffen Coffee.
- Gordon Pub, Located in Kibbutz Ma'ale HaHamisha, ☎ +972 50-224-8050. open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 10:00 pm until 05:00 am. The pub often hosts various Israeli singers and DJs.
- Isrotel Cramim Resort & Spa.
- Hotel Ma'ale HaHamisha.
- Yad HaShmona Country Hotel.
- Neve Ilan Hotel.
- The Jerusalem Hills Inn.
- Shoresh hotel.
- Tzuba hotel.
- Rose of Castel.