Natural Heritage Sites And Routes
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Artas Valley

Only two km south of Bethlehem at the desert’s edge, lies the Artas Valley, a lush green valley of great natural beauty, with an astonishing array of archeological, religious and historical sites associated with different eras and peoples. These include the now-dry Solomon’s Pools and water system, the Biblical Etam, Roman, Byzantine and Crusader ruins, Deir el Banat, thought to be the ruins of a convent, a stone from the period of Salaheddin (Ayyubid), formerly placed near a water mill, but now embedded into the exterior wall of the village mosque for safekeeping, an Ottoman era fort, prison and houses, the stunning turn-of-the century Convent of the Hortus Conclusus, a forest planted in the British period and more. Unlike other sites, now abandoned or with few people available to interpret them, these sites are part of the collective memory of the village of Artas. What makes the village especially interesting is the extent to which it has kept its own culture, while welcoming and engaging with a steady stream of visitors –especially in the last 150 years.