Gems in Israel
Spotlighting Israel's Lesser Known Tourist Attractions and Travel Sites, the Gems.

February 2000  
ISSN: 1527-9812  
 
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THIS MONTH

Editor's Note
Bell Cave at Beit Guvrin
My Family’s Story - Competition
The Ancient Synagogue of Chorazin
For Shutter Bugs
Land of Israel Landscapes Park
The Event
Pilgrims' Crossing - Bethsaida
Gems Quiz - Win a T-Shirt
Links
Photo Credits
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Contact us about holding a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or other special event at this location (or one of dozens of other unique venues in Israel). If you would like more information about planning your Simcha or information about private tours in Israel, please fill out our online form.

Bell Cave at Beit Guvrin

Imagine holding a special celebration in a huge cave, in a place known as the site of the ancient cities of Maresha and Beit Guvrin. If you’ve conjured up an image of a dark, dank place, through which you may even have to crawl to reach, think again. The Bell Cave at Beit Guvrin doesn’t fit this image at all. Its walls are made of beige colored limestone, it is large (over 60 feet high), airy and is easily accessible. It is also a very unique place to hold a special event. While there are numerous bell caves within the park grounds, events are only held in one of these caves. It is one of about 800 bell-shaped caves located in the area. Many of these caves are linked via an underground network of passageways that connect groups of 40-50 caves. While the bell cave at which events are held is easy to reach many of the other caves can only be reached by rappelling into them – or in fact crawling. There are roughly 2000 caves in the Beit Guvrin area Today it’s known that the bell caves served as quarries that supplied building materials to the cities of the coastal plain and Beit Guvrin during the seventh-tenth centuries CE. At the top of cave there is a hole (see photo)– through which quarry was removed.

The town of Beit Guvrin replaced the city of Maresha, one of the Judean cities mentioned in the Bible (Joshua 15:44 and Chronicles 2, 11; 5-8) as a city fortified by Rehoboam, so that it could withstand Egyptian attack. In 112 BCE Maresha was conquered by the Hasmonean king, John Hyracanus I, who destroyed the city and gave residents the choice of expulsion or conversion to Judaism. The town managed to recover somewhat and was ultimately destroyed in 40 BCE.

During the Roman and Byzantine periods there was a large Jewish population here and during the Roman period the city was given the status of “city of freeman” and named Eleutheroolis. Beit Guvrin was the most important city in the area and thrived until the Bar Kochva revolt (132-135 CE). According to Josephus Flavius Beit Guvrin was conquered by the Roman general Vespasian. The remains of a large Jewish cemetery were discovered on site. Additionally, a Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, public baths, mosaics and burial tombs were also found here. It was also an important center of Christianity and had many churches. The remains of St. Anne’s church are still visible.

Beit Guvrin National Park is a wondrous place where one can easily spend half a day exploring many caves (Tel Maresha, site of the ancient city is located at the highest point on the park grounds). Visiting the park one can see the remains of an urban center that has existed consistently from the first century on (though destroyed and rebuilt many times over).

Beit Guvrin National Park is located off Rt. #35 across from Kibbutz Beit Guvrin, at the junction of roads that lead from the Judean foothills to Jerusalem and Hebron. Beit Guvrin is 35 miles south of Jerusalem, (56 kilometers) at an altitude of 820-1150 above sea level.

If you choose to organize your special event, on your own – here are some of the fees you’ll incur. I. Basic Event Fee* 100 people 2200 NIS 200 people 3200 NIS 400 people 4200 NIS II. Entry Fee 50% discount on per person entry fee (as listed below) III. Hourly Fee 200 NIS/per hour There is a special fee for operating the park after hours. IV. Lighting 500-1000 NIS V. Insurance

Then, you still have to think of a caterer, music, etc.

* Prices listed are for December 1999. Note there may be slight changes in pricing for 2000. Park entry fees: Individual - adult 18 NIS, child 9 NIS. Groups - adult 15 NIS, child 8 NIS October – March – 8:00 AM- 4:00 PM April – September – 8:00 Am – 5:00 PM

07/681-1020, 07/681-2957 TEL 07/681-2957 FAX


If you would like more information about planning an event in Israel, please fill out our online
form.

 

Bell Cave - Beit Guvrin
Bell Cave - Beit Guvrin

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Bar/Bat Mitzvah Basics : A Practical Family Guide to Coming of Age Together

 
Published by Yael (Zisling) Adar
Copyright © 1999-2002 Yael (Zisling) Adar - Gems in Israel - www.GemsinIsrael.com. All rights reserved.
Gems in Israel, ISSN: 1527-9812,www.GemsinIsrael.com. Gems in Israel may only be redistributed in its unedited form. Written permission from the editor must be obtained to reprint or cite the information contained within this online publication.
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