The Uniqueness of Israel
Visit Israel’s Caves to Escape the Summer Heat
There is no escaping the fact that summer in Israel is hot. While some areas are hotter than others, you should be prepared for temperatures of at least 30°C (86F). Of course, most places have air conditioning and some of you may even enjoy being in the heat. However, if you are not a fan of the heat but you don’t want to waste your days sitting inside, there is a novel solution. You could enjoy the cooler air in some of Israel’s many caves instead.
Israel is home to thousands of caves but some of them are easier to reach than others. One of the country’s most famous is the Sorek Cave, also known as the Stalactite Cave. It is located in a nature reserve on the mountains between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. Some workers in a limestone quarry discovered the cave around four decades ago. They found stalactites and stalagmites that were up to 4 metres long and some of them are thought to be around 300,000 years old. There are now walkways through the cave, as well as lightning and handrails, and there is even a guided tour available.
You could also head to the Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park, which is home to a huge number of caves including the Bell Cave complex, a series of 70 large caves that are linked by passages. The tallest of them are around 5 metres high and they are truly a remarkable sight. The caves were dug out as quarries between the 7th and 11th centuries and they were given their name because they are shaped like a bell. You can still see Arabic inscriptions in the walls and the sharp eyed among you may recognise some of the caves from the film Rambo III!
Israel is also home to the largest salt cave in the world. The Malcham cave is one of more than 100 salt rock caves in Mount Sedom by the Dead Sea. The cave is free to enter and inside you will find huge rooms, vertical shafts that are over 130 metres deep, and stalactites and stalagmites made of salt.
The Dead Sea area is well known for its caves and the Eleven Caves of Qumran are particularly famous. A Jewish sect occupied the caves in the first century and when they fled the Romans, they left behind their treasures hidden in clay jars. The jars were discovered in 1947 and are now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. You can see these scrolls, which include the oldest known bible, in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The caves themselves are also worth visiting, you can visit a room where the ancient scribes may have worked, and see where others prepared food, made clay pots, and so on.
If you are in Jerusalem then you should pay a visit to Zedekiah’s Cave. It is about 300 metres deep and is located underneath the northern wall of the Old City. For a long time people believed that it is the cave described in the bible when Zedekiah attempted to flee to Jericho during a Babylonian siege, but the cave has no exit meaning it would not have made a very good escape route. However, archaeologists believe that it was from this area that the stones were cut to build the second temple.
These are just a few of Israel’s many caves. Visiting any of them is an interesting and worthwhile experience, and of course, a great way to escape the intense summer heat.