Off the Beaten Path in Jerusalem: the White Valley

Filed in Nature by on 24/04/2013 2 Comments
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Off the Beaten Path in Jerusalem

If you are looking for something to do off of the beaten track in Jerusalem, Emek Ha’Lavan (the White Valley) in southwest Jerusalem is a beautiful wild and pristine place. Come and view the natural spring, pool and archaeological ruins that go back to the times of both the First and Second Temples.

Off the Beaten Path in Jerusalem - Almond Trees

Wild Almond (Photo: Josephine Levin, All Rights Reserved)

This beautiful valley borders on the neighborhoods of Kiryat Menachem, Givat Masua and Moshav Ora. Named the White (Lavan) Valley for the numerous wild almond trees that grow on its slopes, the valley appears white when they are in blossom. The ancient terraces contain numerous olive and fig trees, grapevines and wild herbs like the rare Blue Sage Salvia indica, wild thyme, marjoram, sumac berries, chamomile daisies, Alkenet Anchusa strigosa and more. This is a favorite place for groups of hikers and horseback riders.

Jerusalem Gardens

At the entrance to Emek Ha’lavan is a community garden where local residents grow herbs and vegetables. There are also places for making a barbeque. Near the main entrance and community garden, is a map provided by the Ganim Community Center and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) to help you find your way to the various points of interest. As you descend down the stairs from the main entrance on Dahomey Street you’ll find yourself in a place of utter silence as there are, at present, no roads running through here.

Archaeological Remains – First and Second Temple  Periods

Terraces and archaeological remains of ancient wine presses on the eastern slope of Emek Halavan, below Rogem Ganim, go back 3000 years to the First Temple and the time of Hizkiyahu Ha’melech (King Hezekiah). It is believed that wine for the First Temple and the king’s household was made here. Archaeological excavations have found jar handles stamped with the royal seal of King Hizkiyahu. Recently archaeological remains dating from the Second Temple period have been excavated including a mikveh, (ritual bath). There are also burial caves from the period of the First Temple.

Off the Beaten Path in Jerusalem

JNF Forest (Photo: Josephine Levin, All Rights Reserved)

JNF Forest

Further down on the eastern slope is a JNF Forest. Many wild animals are found here including a herd of gazelles. Below the forest, as you turn west, is the beautiful Ein Lavan (White Spring) and pool found in a walnut grove.

It is recommended that you do not go here alone but, in a group, preferably with someone who knows the area well, as it is really wild country. There are rest rooms at the nearby Ganim Community Center on Dahomey Street.

Emek Lavan can be reached by Egged Buses numbers 12 and 20.

 Did You Know?

For years developers have sought to build roads through here and construct apartment buildings, but have met with fierce resistance from locals and from environmental groups.

 

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