Around Beit Guvrin

The best Israeli tourist attractions around Beit Guvrin.

Local Chef hosts visitors in her home  (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Local Chef hosts visitors in her home
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The hot summer months bring not only heat and humidity, but also a wealth of exciting events and festivals. The Beit Guvrin – a.k.a. the Bible – Festival, one of the most popular summer events, is being held for the 15th year in the Yoav Regional Council. Dozens of memorable live performances will take place under the open sky during the two-and-ahalf- week festival (August 3 to 19).
One the most welcome changes this year is that Lachish Regional Council will be joining the festivities and be offering Open Houses on August 15 and 16, with activities for children, such as hiking, tours, picking of seasonal fruits, local culinary treats, cultural activities and live performances by local artists at the Roman amphitheater in the Beit Guvrin National Park. Among the performers will be Mosh Ben Ari, Balkan Beat Box, Dudu Tassa, Friends of Natasha, Yuval Dayan, Miri Mesika, Natan Goshen, Amir Dadon, Marina Maximilian, Ivri Lider, Avraham Tal, Yehuda Poliker and Ehud Banai.
Some of the performances will be free of charge, but pre-registration is required.
Here is a list of some of the other highlights:
Tali Grapes
You can't visit the Lachish Region without hearing Tali Grapes mentioned, and when you arrive in the area, you'll see vineyards every which way you turn. I recommend taking a tour of the vineyards with Amir Shaul from Moshav Lachish, during which you'll hear about all the different kinds of grapes and how they're harvested. Visitors are given baskets and have 30 minutes to fill them up with juicy bunches of grapes.
Afterwards, visitors drive to the site of ancient Lachish. At the reconstructed winepress there, children can tread grapes with their bare feet to prepare pure grape juice. There's also an incredible view from the top of the hill, which is pretty easy to climb.
Length of tour: 2½ hours. There will be morning and afternoon tours during the festival.
Price: NIS 40 (free for children 2 and under) Pre-registration required: 050-569-4674.
Alta Cafe
I recommend beginning your trip with a nutritious breakfast at Alta Boutique Cafe in Eliav, a café/second-hand shop that Razia Yehezkeli opened in her home.
For years, Yehezkeli dreamed of hosting people in her home and has finally fulfilled her dream. She began by selling cakes and coffee on Fridays, and as both the compliments and demand grew, she decided to follow her dream and created an incredible dairy menu.
Yehezkeli bakes and prepares everything by herself on the premises, including the scrumptious spreads and pastries. Breakfast for two costs NIS 130, including hot and cold drinks. The menu also includes delicacies like shakshuka, burekas, salads, toasts, sandwiches, pasta, quiche and cakes.
Open Thursday nights and Fridays in July and August, as well as on August 15 and 16 during the festival. For all other days, call ahead to book a meal. 054-537-3153.
Want flowers
If you love beautiful things or crave flowers, you definitely should go visit Want Flowers in Moshav Lachish.
Want Flowers is an art gallery and shop that Leah Ben-Dov opened after she got fed up with being a lawyer. She sells kitchenware, jewelry, and specialty gifts on one side, and fresh cut bouquets on the other. The gallery is open on Thursdays and Fridays, as well during the rest of the week for phone requests.
Ben-Dov also offers workshops for small groups. During the festival, she will be hosting Maya Shapira, who paints scarves and table runners, and 15-year-old Tal Sakjo, who will be selling homemade pizzas, pastries, vegetarian couscous and kubeh she made all by herself, which guests can eat in the courtyard of the gallery.
Ariella Allouche
During the festival, visitors are welcome to have a meal at the home of local cooks who have opened up their private homes to guests. One of the best cooks participating in the festival is Ariella Allouche, who runs a catering business out of her home. Allouche prepares breakfast, lunch and dinner (meat and vegetarian) – or you can order a basket for takeout to have a picnic out in nature.
Price: Breakfast: NIS 55 to NIS 75 per person. Lunch: NIS 120 to NIS 170 per person. 10% discount during festival.
Orders: 050-230-1080.
Solo Shatil
Solo Shatil Nursery in Moshav Shahar is an absolute paradise for orchid lovers. Since 1982, Solo Shatil has been growing orchids and other flowers. The full process of taking a seed and nurturing it until it's a mature flower lasts 18 months. During the tour of the nursery, visitors will learn a tremendous amount about the stages of flower development and how to help flowers flourish.
On August 18, there will be free guided tours of Solo Shatil from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pre-registration required: 054-900-9400 or 08-699-6924.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Nira Gal
Artist Nira Gal has an art studio in Moshav Sde Moshe in which she displays works of art she created from 100% recycled materials. Gal mainly uses household items such as scrap paper or used coffee capsules to create dolls, headbands and ornaments. She opened her studio after she retired and began looking for a new exciting vocation that would be beneficial for the environment.
Gal is currently giving sculpting workshops to groups of up to 11 participants in which everyone decides for themselves what they're going to create. They can copy an object they see in the gallery or create something from their imagination using recycled items such as shredded paper. Workshops are three hours long and cost NIS 200 (the price falls as the number of participants rises).
Gal will be conducting a papier mâché workshop at the Lachish festival. To register: 054-471-0724.