Explore Fascinating Caves in Israel
Israel is home to thousands of caves, and more are discovered here all the time. Whether your trip to Israel is planned for the summer or winter, there will be days when you want to get out of the sun and enjoy the semi-darkness of caves with historical, geological or archaeological significance. Here are five that we recommend checking out.
The Historical Bar Kokhba Caves
If you like crawling around in narrow spaces, you will love the Judean Desert's Bar Kokhba Caves. Small children will be thrilled with the experience of navigating the caves, while adults will be fascinated by the history. This is where many Judean soldiers of the Bar Kokhba Revolt hid out while they did battle against the Roman Empire. The revolt eventually failed, but the soldiers here left behind a legacy of letters and coins that tell the story of the Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple.
Beit Guvrin’s Man-Made Caves
The famous Beit Guvrin caves in southern Israel were created by quarrying over many years. The 70 "Bell Caves" here are connected by passageways and dug out in the shape of bells. The caves are as much as 16 feet deep, and they have small openings at the tops, through which direct sunlight streams.
Prehistoric Nahal Mearot Caves
Situated on the western side of Mount Carmel, these caves preserve evidence of over a million years of human activity. A marked trail leads you past the wildflowers of the slopes to three caves, where you can see remains of prehistoric daily life. The Hanahal Cave features an audiovisual presentation explaining what it is you are seeing. Outside the cave are the remains of a small village from 9,000 years ago.
The Dramatic Stalactite Cave
Located near Beit Shemesh, this cave is home to dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is extremely deep, so you'll need to walk down many steps to reach the bottom. As you descend, note the interesting shapes of the mineral formations, including an ice cream cone, macaroni, a lion and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Inside the cave is well lit and warm – and great for kids who can handle the steps.
The Misnamed Zedekiah's Cave
Another man-made cave is Zedekiah’s Cave, misnamed because it was not dug out until long after King Zedekiah’s death. Legend claimed that this cave was used by the king to escape from Jerusalem during the Babylonian siege, but the lack of an exit renders this narrative an impossibility. In fact, this cave was apparently created when Herod's builders cut giant stones out of it in order to build the Second Temple.