Travel and win: Local sites position to snap up a Wikipedia award

Near Moshav Mishmar Hayarden is a fascinating archeological site called Hirbet Yarda, where remains from a number of different time periods have been uncovered.

THE RUINS of a 19th-century mansion at Hirbet Yarda. (photo credit: OMRI RUBINSTEIN)
THE RUINS of a 19th-century mansion at Hirbet Yarda.
(photo credit: OMRI RUBINSTEIN)
The Jewish month of Tishrei is a time for introspection. During the holiday period, we traditionally gather with family for meals and go out for picnics and hikes in nature.
Wikipedia is currently hosting a photo contest around cultural heritage called “Wiki Loves Monuments.” Inspired by the competition, I’ve compiled a list of six heritage sites located throughout Israel that can make our family gatherings even more meaningful.
These six sites are just a fraction of the numerous heritage sites located around the country. I picked them especially for their fantastic photographic potential and their uniqueness. This is the sixth year that Israel has been invited to participate in this photo competition, which is taking place simultaneously in more than 40 other countries.
All you have to do is take pictures of heritage sites and then upload them by October 20 to the online photo repository called Wikimedia Commons. There will be prizes, and the winning photos will be displayed in an exhibition.
Guided tours are available through the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites in Israel and instructors from the Galitz School of Photography will be carrying out photography workshops at a number of locations.
Free guided tours will be available (pre-registration required) at the following sites:
• Kinneret Courtyard (October 13)
• The Levi Eshkol House (October 20)
• The Old Courtyard Museum at Kibbutz Ein Shemer (October 20)
• Ben-Gurion House in Tel Aviv (October 6)
• Yad La’isha Halohemet in Nitzanim (October 11)
• Ben Shemen Youth Village (October 4)
You can find more details at
The Muristan is a complex of streets and shops in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem where the first hospital of the Knights Hospitaller was built, not far from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. During the Crusader period, the Hospitallers, a medieval Catholic military order, developed the area – building an inn, a hospital and two churches.
During that period, Jerusalem underwent tremendous upheaval and it was not long before the region was conquered by Saladin, who turned the structure into a hospital for the mentally impaired. He gave the hospital a new Persian name – Bimristan – since he and his men were from Kurdistan, and the name later morphed into Muristan. The site was subsequently destroyed by Muslim invaders and stood in ruins until excavations began in the 19th century.
A TOWERING ARCH gracing the entrance to the Muristan Complex welcomes visitors in Jerusalem’s Old City. A TOWERING ARCH gracing the entrance to the Muristan Complex welcomes visitors in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Similar to many other locations in Jerusalem, the Muristan complex underwent many transformations. For example, there was a Lutheran church there built by German clergymen, and underneath that the remains of a Crusader church have also been found. At the beginning of the 20th century, stores, hostels for Christian pilgrims and homes were built there, and Muristan is still today a bustling marketplace where you can buy leather products, rugs and souvenirs or sit at a café. There’s a beautiful centrally located neo-baroque-style water fountain (which works some of the time) that was built to commemorate the jubilee of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
Location: Muristan Street, Christian Quarter, Old City of Jerusalem.
Gethsemane, the Greek version of the Hebrew Gat Shmanim (oil press), is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before he was handed over to the Romans by Judas Iscariot.
Inside the garden you’ll also find the Church of All Nations, which belongs to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. It was built between 1919 and 1924, designed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi. Originally called Church or Basilica of the Agony, the Roman Catholic church is surrounded by ancient olive trees and a charming garden.
The ceiling of the building and the mosaic of its eastern wall include the symbols of the 16 countries whose contributions helped establish the church, including Italy, France, Spain, England, Belgium the US, and a few South American countries.
Location: Jericho Street, Mount of Olives
Hours: 8 a.m. to noon and 2 to 6 p.m.
The Trumpeldor cemetery in Tel Aviv was built in 1902 and is the resting place for many famous founders of the Israeli city that never sleeps, such as Israel’s second prime minister Moshe Sharett; Meir Dizengoff and his wife, Zina; Aharon Danin and Menahem Sheinkin. The official name of the cemetery is the new cemetery of Jaffa.
Over the years, the cemetery has become a popular meeting place for amateur mystics and photographers alike. It was constructed immediately following a terrible cholera epidemic that spread into Palestine from Egypt. The Ottoman authorities refused to let the people who succumbed to the disease be buried in population centers, and so Shimon Rokach, one of the leaders of the local Jewish community, found a creative solution. He obtained a 1.2-hectare plot from the government that was far from any built-up area. It was purchased by the Committee of the United Communities of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Groups. Although it was intended to be used just for burial, it effectively became the foundation for Jewish settlement in the area.
During the guided tour of the cemetery, participants will hear interesting stories about the various people buried there and the history of Tel Aviv.
Location: Intersection of Trumpeldor and Hebron streets, Tel Aviv Hours: Sunday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday and holiday eve: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Details: (03) 795-3614.
Located in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood of Haifa, St. John’s is a picturesque Anglican church that was built in 1935 in the neo-gothic style. It currently serves as a center for concerts on weekends and as an elementary school during the week. Inside there are three wings, a bell tower with a turret, and arched windows.
Location: 24-30 Huri Street, Wadi Nisnas, Haifa
In the Old City of Beersheba you’ll find the Negev Art Museum in a charming historic building that was constructed in 1906. It was the home of the Turkish governor when Palestine was under Ottoman rule, and sits beside the grand mosque that was built at the beginning of the 20th century.
The building was used for a number of different purposes before it came to function as an art museum. During the First World War, for example, it housed the senior officer of the British military forces in Palestine. Later, it became a school for Beduin girls. During the War of Independence, after the IDF had taken control of the city, it was turned into IDF regional headquarters. Next, it served as Beersheba’s first municipality building and in the 1980s was the art wing of the Negev Archeology Museum. In 1988, the building was in danger of collapsing, and so it was closed to the public. After it was renovated and an elevator was added, it was once again opened to the public as the Negev Museum of Art.
Location: 60 Ha’atzmaut Street, Beersheba.
Near Moshav Mishmar Hayarden is a fascinating archeological site called Hirbet Yarda, where remains from a number of different time periods have been uncovered. There is a building that was constructed 130 years ago underneath which coins and pottery shards were found dating back to the Roman and Mameluke periods. This structure was built as a square around an internal courtyard with a well.
On the western side of the building you can see remains of ancient gates and on the eastern wall you can see bullet holes that were made during the War of Independence. During the war, the moshav was overrun and held by the Syrians for just one night, until the Carmeli and Golani 13th Brigades succeeded in wresting back control. The land had been purchased by the Jewish National Fund in 1936 and just 10 years ago a memorial was constructed to all the soldiers who died in battle there. There’s a wonderful view of the valley and surrounding hills from the building, and below there’s also a running spring called Ein Yarda.
Directions: Drive east on Road 91. Before you reach Moshav Mishmar Ha- Yarden, turn left and drive along the orchards. Follow signs for Hirbet Yarda.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.