The Negev is bursting with important tourist sites connected to Christianity. The combination of the Negev desert wilderness and the glorious history of Christianity makes for an exciting tour experience that combines nature and culture at its best.
Start at the Tel Sheva National Park where you can stroll through the remains of a city from the ancient Israelite period (10th century BC). Two-thirds of the ancient city were uncovered during archaeological excavations, making it a one of a kind site that enable study of the principles of urban planning during the biblical (Old Testament) era. The Tel uncovered a fortified administrative city established in that era. The townspeople built a sophisticated water system, indicating outstanding engineering capability. The water system includes a vast square shaft going down to a depth of fifteen meters. The stone-faced walls of the shaft lead down to a large reservoir, which collected the floodwaters of the Hebron River. The deepest well in the Negev, at a depth of 70 meters, was also discovered at the site.
Take Route 31 to Tel Sheva (about an hour from Kfar Hanokdim and an hour and a quarter from Tel Aviv).
From Tel Sheva continue to the Old City of Beersheva and visit the Abraham’s Well Visitors’ Center in which you will find the historical biblical well from the time of Abraham the patriarch. The well is located in an architectural structure whose design was inspired by the guest tents of yore. At the Center you can also watch a video clip which tells the story of Abraham the Patriarch and the unique well. A visit to the Great Mosque from the time of the Ottoman Empire is also well worth your time. The Mosque is located within walking distance of the Visitors’ Center, and has a permanent exhibition of photos and documents displaying the history of Beersheba from its inception to the present.
You can have lunch at one of the Old City’s excellent restaurants. If you enjoy ethnic food, don’t miss a delicious Yemenite meal in an original Yemenite home on Herzl St.: 08-6288858. The restaurant is kosher, although without certification, and opens Sunday-Friday from 12.00 noon until the food runs out.
Take Route 60 to the Old City in Beersheba (20 minutes from Tel Sheva, and about an hour from Kfar Hanokdim).
After a midday break continue to the ruins at Tel Kerioth, the seat of Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, according to the New Testament. Tel Kerioth, or by its Arabic name Khurbet el-Kureitein, is near Susya, on the edge of the Judean Desert and has been identified as belonging to the settlement of Kerioth. Horvat Kerioth was excavated during 1991-1992 and the remains of a Byzantine church were uncovered. According to the archaeologists who excavated the site, there was a settlement at the site during the Second Temple period. Tel Kerioth spans hundreds of acres and you can walk around the remains of the settlement, which includes ancient buildings and cave dwellings. The Tel is on the edge of Yatir Forest; visitors can enjoy the contrast between the views of its abundant vegetation on one hand, and the desert landscape on the other.
Take Route 80 to Tel Kerioth.
Round off the day with a visit to the Fountain of Tears gallery in Arad. The gallery was founded by Rick Wiencke, a Christian artist, who decided to settle in Israel and dedicate his work to commemorating the Holocaust. A colossal monument created by Wiencke is on permanent display at Auschwitz-Birkenau. A replica of the monument can be seen at the gallery, together with a video documenting the sculpting process, and the artist’s workshop can be toured. Wiencke’s technique and talent are exceptional as is the story of his life; Wiencke is friendly and hospitable, and the tour of the gallery is very pleasant.
To arrange a visit call Wiencke at 08-9973904.
Take Route 3199 to the gallery (fifteen minutes from Kfar Hanokdim).