8.6 km 4-5 hrs, Moderate + visits and breaks
The walk starts with a visit to the Solomon Pools (the Roman water reservoirs) and learning about the water system dating back 2000 years, followed by a walk to Artas village. After the lunch we continue walking along the lovely valley of Artas and the Roman Aqueduct that carries water to Heroduim. The walk ends at Abu Enjam village.
The Solomon’s Pools is a unique aqueduct system supplying water to Bethlehem, Herodium, and Jerusalem since the 1st century.
Artas is a Palestinian village located 4 kilometers southwest of Bethlehem with a population of 4,500. It is a popular destination for visitors to Bethlehem who want to experience traditional Palestinian life, as well as groups interested in ecotourism. Artas and the surrounding area is characterized by the diversity of landscapes and flora and fauna due to its location at a meeting place of ecosystems.
The Convent of Hortus Conclusus is located just across the valley from the village. It was built in 1901 on what is believed to be the site of King Solomon’s Gardens and is inhabited by an Italian order of nuns who had established themselves in Latin America.
The Artas Folklore Center (AFC) was established in 1993 by Mr. Musa Sanad to document, preserve, and share the rich heritage of the village. It includes a small folklore museum, as well as a dabka and a drama troupe. The Artas Lettuce Festival has been an annual event since 1994.
Archeological sites and historic remains dating from the Iron Age to Ottoman times are located in the village. Until the 19th century, Artas’ residents were responsible for guarding the Pools and the Aqueduct.
The village had a tradition of hosting foreign and local scholars, a few of them were women. One of the best known of the latter was the Swedish-Finnish anthropologist Hilma Granqvist who arrived at Artas in the 1920s as part of her research on the women of the Old Testament. She arrived in Palestine in a quest to find the Jewish ancestors of Scripture. What she found instead was a Palestinian people with a distinct culture and way of life. As a result, she changed the focus of her research to a full investigation of the customs, habits, and ways of thinking of the people of that village. Granqvist ended up staying until 1931, documenting all aspects of village life. In so doing she took hundreds of photographs. Her many books about Artas were published between 1931 and 1965, making Artas one of the best documented Palestinian villages.
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