Wadi Quelt: from Roman Aqueduct to the Herod’s Palace


I invite you to join me for a hike in one of the most beautiful and interesting canyons of Israel, Wadi Quelt. Here you can hike endlessly – it is like no other, fraught with many secrets and mysteries, traces of someone else’s already a distant life, oases, the ancient aqueduct, abandoned hermit cells and an operating monastery, children of the desert and the mountains, and, above has the ideal combination of beauty and history, archaeology and sportiness.

120 per person
free – for children under 15

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On Saturday we’ll hike about half of the gorge, starting from Mitzpe Jericho. We will see an oasis in the desert, visit the hermit monastery of St. George, and then, if the rainfall has not yet reached its peak, we will walk through the bottom, which will give us the opportunity to not only ignore the impending civilization, but also to get into a few well-preserved monastic cells, see the remains of frescoes, bathroom facilities and feel what the the life of hermits was like. If the canyon is covered with water, we will walk along the edge on a steep trail, see the cell of St. Anne (the home to the last real hermit of the Holy Land), and count dozens of the Cape hyraxes.

Then we continue our way along the bottom of the gorge Quelt and arrive at the ruins of the Hasmonean-Irodian winter palaces – one of the most magnificent creations of king Herod, the Israel’s greatest architect. Eventually, we arrive to St. George, approaching it from the left side.

The monastery of St. George Hozevit. About this place you can talk endlessly, and look at it even longer. Here we will learn the history of the founding of the monastery, what was happening in the valley fifteen hundred years ago, and who cooks diet soup for the monks today.

Continuing our route through the gorge on the way to Jericho, we will make a stop in one of the most beautiful parts of Wadi Quelt, and go up to the long-abandoned monastic cells. Alas, the local Arabs and unscrupulous tourists continue to “restore” the interiors of cells, so that each year the remains of frescoes continue to deteriorate, but the inscriptions such as “Vasya was here” are added to the interior. It may take another ten years, and the once beautiful paintings will be gone, so we must hurry to see them. The final point of our extensive program will be a visit to the Herodean palaces, beautiful creations of king Herod, which the millennia could not destroy, but it seems that they may be overcome by the cabbage planted by local Arab villagers. At the complex of Tulul Abu el-Alyayk we’ll talk about the incredible stories that took place here and in the Jericho area (which will be literally behind us, take your binoculars!), and what led to the present desolation and abandonment of one of the most interesting archaeological parks of the Land of Israel.

  • Arriving in your own cars (will will drive them to the start and the finish of the route)
  • Meeting point: parking lot of Mitzpe Jericho (off highway 1)
  • Total time: from 08:00 till 17:00.
  • Walking distance: around 15 km
  • Rides: I will try to find you a ride to get there

What you will need
  • water (4 liters per person minimum!)
  • snacks for the day
  • modest clothing for visiting the monastery, necessarily (long pants, covered elbows and collarbones, you can bring a change of clothes if you’d like)
  • Spare dry shoes, if there is water in the gorge

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