Category Archives: Center of Israel

The best 10 hiking trails in Israel

 

Israel is a hiker’s paradise. The country is crisscrossed with trails, including the 580-mile long Israel Trail, which starts in the northern Galilee and winds its way south until it reaches the tip of Eilat. All of Israel’s trails are clearly marked by colors painted on rocks, and you can buy a set of 20 glossy maps (about $25 each) to keep you moving in the right direction.


Jerusalem area

Nahal Katlav (4 hours)Nahal Katlav Nahal Katlav

This lovely four-hour hike starts at the Bar Behar restaurant and ice cream stand, a short drive west from Jerusalem in the Bar Giora area (the restaurant is on the road to Nes Harim). The path descends, winding past a spring until you reach the nahal – Hebrew for a dry riverbed; in Arabic it’s wadi. The walk along the nahal takes less than an hour. While there’s no water anymore, it’s still very shady, a place of beauty and solitude close to the big city.

Eventually, the trail reaches the abandoned Bar Giora train station, a good place to stop and eat lunch as Jerusalem-Tel Aviv trains pass nearby. After the station, the trail climbs steeply, passing an abandoned Arab village, before looping back to the starting point. Nahal Katlav is popular in part because you can look forward to a frozen treat at the end, especially welcome in the hotter months.

The Burma Road (3.5 hours)

Burma Road

The Burma Road is steeped with history. During the War of Independence, the Jordanians blocked the main route into Jerusalem, attempting to starve the city into surrender. Under the cover of night, soldiers from the nascent State of Israel clandestinely built a bypass road, which succeeded in breaking the boycott. You can now hike this road in two parts. For both, you park your car just before the Paz gas station on Highway 38, coming from Route 1, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway. Both segments follow the Israel Trail for some of the way.

Burma Road

The western part of the trail goes along the Burma Road in the direction of Latrun, but you’ll be turning north before then to make a loop back to your starting point. This takes you through a pine forest known as Park Rabin. There is also a bike rental shop as the trail is popular with cyclists.

The eastern flank of the trail across the road kicks off with a very steep ascent until reaching the village of Beit Meir. Along the way are some great views of the highway far below. From the top, you can continue on the Burma Road toward Jerusalem, or descend through the Martyr’s Forest, established by B’nai B’rith to commemorate those lost in the Holocaust. There are various memorials, plaques and even a cave. The trail ends up on Highway 38, where you can catch a shared taxi and take it three stops back to your car.


Dead Sea area

Nahal David
Nahal David

Upper Nahal David (1 hour or 5 hours)

You might find that parts of the hike are challenging but this is a hike that is doable by parents and kids.

Nahal David
Nahal David

Nahal David is the most touristy part of the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. You pay an entrance fee of about $5 (discounts for children and soldiers), then make the short 30-minute hike to David’s waterfall for pictures and snacks. More intrepid hikers can extend the hike to nearly five hours by starting at the nearby Ein Gedi Field School.

Nahal David
Nahal David

The first half hour of the hike heads up a tough mountain (including one short segment where you’re climbing straight up without any footholds). The trail then winds around until it reaches a narrow canyon that can only be traversed by hanging on rungs dug into the mountain face (think of it as hiking on monkey bars) and jumping over — or wading into — pools of water of varying depths, depending on the time of year.

Nahal David
Nahal David

The payoff at the end of the canyon (which can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to traverse, depending on how nimble you are) is an opening toward the Dead Sea called the halon (“window”). There’s room here for a medium-sized group to eat lunch and admire the stunning view. You then go back out the way you came, and climb again, before descending to the lovely Ein Gedi spring and a Chalcolithic-era temple. You’ll eventually meet up with the aforementioned short hike through Nahal David. No one’s checking at the entrance, but be nice and pay the entrance fee.

Nahal David
Nahal David

Nahal Dragot

Nahal Dragot

If adventure is your game, the lower part of Nahal Dragot (more popularly known by its Arabic name, Darga) will keep your heart beating. Indeed, the hike is considered somewhat of a rite of passage for Israelis.

Nahal Dragot

Drive along the Dead Sea road and head up to Metzukei Dragot. The Darga is incredibly challenging, with 50-meter-high walls, dry waterfalls and pools of natural water in craters that you have to swim across. Although there are metal stakes hammered into the rocks in some places, you really can’t do this hike without a rope. Or, in some places, skip the rope and jump into the water below. Warning: Don’t do this hike alone!

Nahal Dragot

If ropes aren’t your thing, there are also several tamer routes within the nahal that stick to the upper plains. The views are spectacular and you can tell your friends that you “did” the Darga.

Judean Desert

Wadi Kelt

Wadi Kelt (5-6 hours)

Wadi Kelt is the Arabic name for this area and the one used most often, though it also goes by Ein Prat and Nahal Kelt. It is one of the most popular hiking spots in Israel, with the parks authorities reporting some 60,000 visitors a year. The parking lot is too small for all the cars, so expect to leave your vehicle on the narrow road that winds down to the north from the Jerusalem-Dead Sea Highway (there are clearly marked signs).

Wadi Kelt

From the parking lot, you can hike west through a series of refreshing pools and picnic spots before ascending in the direction of Pisgat Ze’ev – or head east in the direction of Jericho.

Wadi Kelt

The eastern side of the tiyul is the more spectacular, cutting through a deep desert gorge with plenty of water in which to swim. Even in the heat of the summer, the high canyon walls and the water make this a pleasant refuge. Wadi Kelt has gotten a bad rap over the years – four trekkers were murdered in 1995 and 1997 – but there have been no incidents in 14 years. Nevertheless, you might consider hiking on a Friday or during a Jewish holiday when there are more people on the trail.

Wadi Kelt

At the end of the hike is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George; the monastic community here dates back to 420 CE. If you were to continue on, you’d reach Jericho – but you can’t, as Jericho is part of the Palestinian Authority and closed to Israelis. You can double back through the nahal or take a quicker (but less scenic) road that runs along the top of the canyon.

Wadi Kelt

Nahal Og (3 hours)

Nahal Og

Nahal Og is a beautiful walk that winds through a number of white chalk canyons. It’s mostly flat and pleasant except for one part, where it descends through several near-vertical cliffs. To scale these cliffs, you must hold onto rungs drilled into the side of the mountain. Unlike the rungs in the halon section of the Upper Nahal David hike, however, which go along the cliff wall horizontally, these rungs are truly terrifying, as you can’t see where you’re ending up. So for those with less “spatial intelligence,” you might need a guide to tell you where to place your feet.

Nahal Og

This is a one-way tiyul; park one car near the Nebi Musa antiquities spot (there’s a sign as you descend the highway from Jerusalem toward the Dead Sea) and another near the entrance to Kibbutz Almog. As an alternative, you can start at the foot of Nahal Og and climb up – more strenuous but less scary when you get to the rungs. There are no real views, but the canyon more than makes up for it.

Nahal Og

Nahal Og actually extends farther toward the settlement of Kfar Adumim, and you can hike the entire route in about six to seven hours. As with any hike in a nahal (particularly in the Dead Sea and Judean Desert areas), if there is a chance of rain, don’t hike! There can be a flash flood at any time.

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Eilat mountains

Amram’s Pillars/The Black Canyon (4+ hours)

Amram’s Pillars

The start of the hike is off Highway 90; there is a clearly marked turn about 15 minutes north of Eilat. You then drive on a bumpy dirt road for another 15 minutes before parking your car (it’s not a loop, so you have to use two cars and shuttle between; the whole back-and-forth process can take up to an hour, so build that into your total hiking time).

Amram’s Pillars

The hike itself is worth it, though. First, stop at Amram’s Pillars, two natural rock formations at the end of a short canyon. The hike then proceeds up Mount Amir to its peak, where you’ll be treated to some great views. As you descend, you’ll have two options: a mostly flat route that goes along the Israel Trail, and another, more interesting walk through a canyon filled with ancient copper mines and digging shafts.

Amram’s Pillars

At the end of either of the two routes, you will be close to the Black Canyon – if you’re not short on time, don’t miss it. The canyon is filled with gray and sometimes black granite rock formations, white limestone chalk, plus some narrow passageways, which are fun to climb and slide through.

Amram’s Pillars

Mount Zefachot

Mount Zefachot

This Eilat-area tiyul is easy to find – follow the road that leads to the Egyptian border at Taba, park slightly east of the Eilat Field School and start climbing. Mount Zefachot is not an easy ascent, nor is it a particularly beautiful climb. There are some tricky ups and a few cliffs to keep it interesting. But this hike is all about the payoff, and it’s spectacular.

Mount Zefachot

From the top of the mountain, you get a panoramic view of the entire Red Sea area. You can see four countries from this vantage point: Israel, of course, but also Jordan, Egypt, and the tip of Saudi Arabia. The sea remains a shimmering blue year round, and Eilat’s mild winters make this a perfect hike to break the cold of Israel’s more northern locales.

Mount Zefachot

Once you’ve drunk in the view, there are several options for the descent depending on how much you want to walk. If you take the longest option (about four hours), you’ll end up near Taba; you can then take a public Egged bus or taxi back to your car.

Mount Zefachot

Galilee

Nahal Amud

Nahal Amud (2-5 hours)

Nahal Amud (“pillar canyon”) is the preeminent Galilee hike. It runs from Mount Meron in the west toward the Sea of Galilee in the east. You can walk it in either direction; starting at Meron means more downhill and is generally preferred. The nahal, which parallels the Israel Trail, is gorgeous and shaded, but the highlight is the water – this nahal is not a dry creek. In the summer, the pools are crowded with campers from various youth movements. If you can make it past them, you’ll be treated to a more relaxing walk. There are a number of ancient flour mills along the path.

Nahal Amud

The best place to start is at the parking lot off Highway 89, which connects the mystical town of Safed with Acre on the coast. This is a national park, so you’ll have to pay an entry fee. You start by winding down a steep path before arriving in the nahal. After the pools, you can continue west, or bail early near Safed. There’s a trail that climbs out of the nahal toward the cemetery in Safed. Keep heading up the hill, grab a falafel on the main street to recharge your batteries, then catch a taxi back to your starting point.

Nahal Amud

The other, much shorter alternative is to double back to the parking lot. There’s an upper trail in the nahal that avoids the pools and crowds.

Nahal Amud

Golan Heights

Nahal Yehudiah

Nahal Yehudiah (4-5 hours)

There’s probably no better hike in the heat of summer than Nahal Yehudiah, where the water is so deep, you have no choice but to swim to get to the other side. There are actually some 12 trails in this canyon off Highway 87, just northeast of the Sea of Galilee. But the one that ranks on our top 10 list is “upper” Nahal Yehudiah. The path starts by passing a deserted Syrian village that was built on top of an earlier Jewish town from the Roman-Byzantine period. You’ll pass a cattle-grazing field before heading down into the valley towards the 20-meter high Yehudiah Falls.

Nahal Yehudiah

That’s where the fun starts. There are two cliffs to climb down, using rungs and ladders drilled into the side of the rock – one is four meters long, the second nine meters, which ends in the pool. Make sure your belongings are wrapped up in waterproof bags, or do like some of the more creative hikers who pack small inflatable boats to float their gear across! There’s another pool after that (though you can walk it if you don’t slip). When you’re done swimming, you can backtrack to the start on a dry trail at the top of the nahal.

Nahal Yehudiah

Gorgeous and challenging trails

Fortunately, Israel offers an over-abundance of gorgeous and challenging hikes, from the waterfalls of the Golan Heights to the breathtaking views overlooking the Red Sea. Israel’s trails are clearly marked by colors painted on rocks and tree trunks (the SPNI has a crew of volunteers who regularly check on the markers), and there is a set of 20 glossy maps you can buy (about $25 each) that will keep you moving in the right direction. The maps are available only in Hebrew, but the SPNI is looking for donors to produce English-language versions.

Linking it all together is the 580-mile long Israel Trail, which starts in the northern Galilee and winds its way south until it reaches the tip of Eilat. Inspired by the Appalachian Trail in the US, the Israel Trail was officially marked in 1995 and for the most part follows existing routes. It is indicated by distinctive white-, blue- and orange-striped trail markers (white for the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon, blue for the water and orange for the desert).


At Nahal Yehudiah, hikers climb down cliffs using ladders drilled into the side of the rock.

The Israel Trail is not a straight shot from north to south, hence its length of nearly double the actual miles from one end of the country to the other. Rather, it winds its way through the country’s most scenic geography, zipping over to the Mediterranean coast and the central Tel Aviv area before snaking up to the hills surrounding Jerusalem, then plunging south into the Negev and Arava deserts.

The SPNI is working with the Jerusalem municipality to mark a 25-mile round trip “spur” from the Israel Trail into Jerusalem, covering both urban and forest areas of the capital city.

The Israel Trail specifically avoids regions still in contention, such as the Golan Heights and the West Bank. It also must avoid army training grounds, which take up about 60 percent of the Negev.

Hiking in Israel is a seasonal activity, best done in the fall and spring. The Israel Trail has become a rite of passage, as a growing number of Israelis choose to hike its entire length over two to three months. While much of the time trekkers don’t have any choice but to pitch their own tents for the night, designated “Trail Angels” along the route provide hospitality – often in their homes – at low rates. Trail Angels can also be found on kibbutzim, and some even have free WiFi connections.

Top Israeli hikes

The SPNI recently finished marking a new route dubbed “The Jesus Trail.” It connects important sites from the life of Jesus, and runs for 40 miles from Nazareth to Capernaum, all in the Galilee region. The idea was initiated by an Israeli entrepreneur who runs a chain of hostels, including the Fauzi Azar Inn in Nazareth.

Among the most popular treks in Israel, hikers can choose from a relatively leisurely route (albeit with a few ups and downs) to death-defying challenges, rappelling down cliffs or jumping past waterfalls.

Here are a few favorites:

The Burma Road is one of the easier routes, and also one steeped in history. During the War of Independence, the Jordanians blocked the main route into Jerusalem, attempting to starve the city into surrender. Under the cover of night, soldiers from the nascent state of Israel clandestinely built a bypass road, which succeeded in breaking the blockade.


The Burma Road

The trail starts just outside of Beit Shemesh. You can hike the western part of the trail in the direction of Latrun. You’ll turn north before then, though, to make a loop back to your starting point. This takes you through a pine forest known as Park Rabin. There is also a bike rental shop, as the trail is popular with cyclists.

The eastern flank of the trail is a bit tougher, and kicks off with a steep ascent until reaching the village of Beit Meir. Along the way are some great views of the highway far below. Both sections follow the Israel Trail for much of the route.

Another pleasant hike goes through Nahal Amud (“nahal” means “dry canyon” in Hebrew; the Arabic “wadi” is often substituted). This trek is in the Galilee area – it runs from Mount Meron in the west toward the Sea of Galilee in the east, passing close to the kabalistic town of Safed. In addition to following the Israel Trail, Nahal Amud is particularly shady, even in the summer.

The highlight of the hike is the water – this nahal is not a dry creek – and the pools are frequently filled with campers from the various youth movements. If you can make it past the crowds, you’ll follow the river, then loop back past ancient flourmills before reaching the spacious parking lot (and an ice cream stand – a nice treat at the end of your day).


The highlight of a Nahal Amud hike is the water.

If adventure is your game, the lower part of Nahal Dragot (more popularly known by its Arabic name, Darga) will keep your heart beating. Located in the Dead Sea area, the Darga is incredibly challenging with 50-meter high walls, dry waterfalls and pools of natural water in craters that you have to swim across. Although there are metal stakes hammered into the rocks in some places, you really can’t do this hike without bringing a rope. Or, in some places, skip the rope and jump into the water instead. Warning: Don’t do this hike without a buddy!

Another challenging hike with rungs and water is in the Golan Heights. In Nahal Yehudiah, the water is so deep you have no choice but to swim to reach the other side. The path starts by passing a deserted Syrian village that was built on top of an earlier Jewish town from the Roman-Byzantine period. Further down the valley is the 20-meter-high Yehudiah Falls.

There are two cliffs to climb down using ladders drilled into the side of the rock – one is four meters (13 feet) long, the second nine meters (29.5 feet), ending in the pool. Make sure your belongings are wrapped up in waterproof bags, or do like some of the more creative hikers who pack small inflatable boats to float their gear across.

Water is also the calling card of Wadi Kelt, by far one of the most popular hiking spots in Israel, with some 60,000 visitors a year. The hike, which parallels the Jerusalem-Dead Sea highway, cuts through a deep desert gorge. Even in the heat of the summer, the high canyon walls and the water make this a pleasant refuge.

At the end of the hike is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George; the monastic community here dates back to 420 CE. If you were to continue on, you’d reach Jericho. Instead, Israelis either double back through the nahal or take a quicker (but less scenic) road that runs along the top of the canyon. Better yet, take two cars and park one at each end. That way you can spend more time in the water.

If you prefer to look at water, Mount Zefachot is particularly spectacular. This Eilat-area tiyul starts from the road that leads to the Egyptian border at Taba. There is a steep ascent with some tricky ups and a few cliffs to keep it interesting. But this hike is all about the payoff: From the top of the mountain, you get a panoramic view of the entire Red Sea area. You can see four countries from this vantage point: Israel, of course, but also Jordan, Egypt and the tip of Saudi Arabia. The sea remains a shimmering blue year round, and Eilat’s mild winters make this a perfect hike to break the cold of Israel’s more northern locales.

Day Tour Jerusalem

For costs, questions, queries and other related information, click here.

This tour is for any visitors to Jerusalem (or locals). This tour will bring you to all the important and well-known touristic sights the Jerusalem has to offer. The tour is designed for the individual, as for groups, with or without a professional guide.

In this itinerary are always alternatives and added sights. Click on More Info or Things to do behind the sigh. Restaurants in the neighborhood of the sights are available in this itinerary each day. Click on Restaurants.

Click here for the day tour map.

  1. Jaffa Gate at the Tourist information boot (tour starts here)
  2. Tower of David
  3. Qishle – police headquarters and prison during Ottoman times
  4. St. James Cathedral Church
  5. Zion Gate
  6. King David’s tomb
  7. Mount Zion
  8. Dormition Abbey

BREAK

  1. The Western Wall Excavations
  2. The Davidson Center
  3. City of David
  4. Gihon Spring
  5. Hezekiah’s and Siloam Tunnels
  6. Zecharias’ Tomb
  7. Church of the Assumption (Mary’s Tomb)
  8. Lions’ Gate
  9. Church convictionRestaurants.

BREAK

  1. Church of St. Mary of agony
  2. VIA DOLOROSA
  3. The Ethiopian PatriarchateRestaurants.
  4. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
  5. Old City Bazaar
  6. Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
  7. Church of St. John the Baptist
  8. Cardo

BREAK

  1. Burnt House
  2. Western wall
  3. Al-Aqsa Mosque
  4. Temple Mount
  5. Dome of the Rock (tour ends here) – Restaurants.

The Foundation Stone of the World

The Foundation Stone is the name of the rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Jews traditionally face it while praying, in the belief that it was the location of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Muslims believe that angels visited the site 2,000 years before the creation of Adam, the place to which Muhammad traveled in the Night Journey and it’s the place where Israfel, the angel of the trumpet, will sound his horn on Resurrection Day. Map.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

Many sages from the Talmud were mentioned about the Foundation Stone.

  • God took the Foundation Stone and threw it into the depths and from it the world expanded. It’s the center point of the world and the first part of the Earth to come into existence.
  • Also it was close to the Foundation Stone, that God gathered the earth and created Adam.
  • It was on this rock that Adam—and later Cain, Abel, and Noah—offered sacrifices to God.
  • Jewish sources identify this rock as the place mentioned in the Bible where Abraham fulfilled God’s test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.
  • It is also identified as the rock upon which Jacob dreamt about angels ascending and descending on a ladder and consequently consecrating and offering a sacrifice upon.
  • When (according to the Bible) King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite (Canaanites), it is believed that it was upon this rock that he offered the sacrifice mentioned in the verse.
  • He wanted to construct a permanent temple there, but as his hands were “bloodied”, he was forbidden to do so himself. The task was left to his son Solomon, who completed the Temple in c. 950 BCE.
  • Situated inside the Holy of Holies, this was the rock upon which the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the First Temple.
  • During the Second Temple period when the Ark of the Covenant was not present, the stone was used by the High Priest who offered up the incense and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices on it during the Yom Kippur service.
Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The rock itself is 90-million-year-old and quite different compared with rocks surrounding it. The southern side of the Foundation Stone forms a ledge, with a gap between it and the surrounding ground; a set of steps currently uses this gap to provide access from the Dome of the Rock to the Well of Souls beneath it.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The rock has several human-made cuts in its surface, created by the Crusaders. Flat sections on the stone indicates foundation trenches on top of which the walls of the original temple were laid.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The Mysterious Well of Souls, the Holy of Holies

The Well of Souls is a partly natural, partly man-made cave located inside the Foundation Stone under the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem. For Muslims, the spirits of the dead can be heard awaiting Judgment Day. For Christians, the site is known as the Holy of Holies and is venerated as a possible “site of the annunciation of John the Baptist”. The Well of Souls has also other names: Pit of SoulsCave of Spirits, and Well of Spirits in Islam.

There was never an archeological investigation because of political and diplomatic sensitivities. And that means that the mystery only gets more mystified!

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

For Christian Pilgrims it’s one of the places to visit. It’s not for nothing the Holy of Holies. It’s also the place covered in mysteries …

The Well of Souls, located on Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, may contain the fabled and elusive Ark of the Covenant. This is the sacred vessel that, according to biblical account, contained the original Ten Commandments tablets that God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai as the ancient Israelites wandered the desert.

The Well of Souls is purportedly located below a natural cave under the rock upon which Jewish tradition says Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Islamic tradition indicates Muhammad ascended to heaven from this same stone.

No one knows with absolute certainty whether the Well of Souls—or the Ark of the Covenant—actually exists. Though knocking on the floor of the cave under the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine elicits a resounding hollow echo, no one has ever seen this alleged chamber. The Temple Mount itself is rife with a network of some 45 cisterns, chambers, tunnels, and caves.

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

There has never been any proper archaeological exploration of the site, which is under control of the Waqf Muslim religious trust.

The famed 19th-century British explorers Charles Wilson and Sir Charles Warren could neither prove nor disprove the existence of a hollow chamber below the cave. They believed the sound reportedly heard by visitors was simply an echo in a small fissure beneath the floor.

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

Shimon Gibson, senior fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, published a definitive review together with colleague David Jacobson called Below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: A Sourcebook on the Cisterns, Subterranean Chambers and Conduits of the Haram Al-Sharif. “Since the 19th century, no Westerner has been allowed access to the subterranean chambers on the Temple Mount,” Gibson said.

The Temple Mount and the natural cave below the Dome of the Rock are periodically open to tourists, depending upon the local security and political situation.

History

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

Both Jewish and Muslim traditions relate to what may lie beneath the Foundation Stone, the earliest of them found in the Talmud in the former and understood to date to the 12th and 13th centuries in the latter.

The Talmud indicates that the Stone marks the center of the world and serves as a cover for the Abyss containing the raging waters of the Flood.

Muslim tradition likewise places it at the center of the world and over a bottomless pit with the flowing waters of Paradise underneath. A palm tree is said to grow out of the River of Paradise here to support the Stone.

Noah is said to have landed here after the Flood. The souls of the dead are said to be audible here as they await the Last Judgment.

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

The Crusaders recaptured Jerusalem in 1099 and converted the Dome of the Rock into a church, calling it the Templum Domini, or the Temple of the Lord.

They were cutting away much of the rock to make staircases and paving the Stone over with marble slabs. They enlarged the main entrance of the cave and probably are also responsible for creating the shaft ascending from the center of the chamber. The Crusaders called the cave the “Holy of Holies” and venerated it as the site of the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth.


Reference

  • The earliest reference to a “pierced rock” (the shaft in the cave’s roof) may be that in the Itinerarium Burdigalense by the anonymous “Pilgrim of Bordeaux” who visited Jerusalem in 333 AD.
  • References to the “Well of Souls” under the Foundation Stone date back at least to the 10th-century Persian writer Ibn al-Faqih who mentions it as an Islamic sacred site.
  • The 11th-century Persian writer and traveler Nasir-i Khusraw related the traditional story of the origin of the cave in his classic travelogue Safarnama:

They say that on the night of his Ascension into heaven, the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, prayed first at the Dome of the Rock, laying his hand upon the Rock. As he went out, the Rock, to do him honor, rose up, but he laid his hand on it to keep it in its place and firmly fixed it there. But by reason of this rising up, it is even to this present day partly detached from the ground beneath.

  • The 16th-century rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra attested to the existence of a cave found under the Dome of the Rock and known as the “Well of Souls”.
  • The definitive modern review of the Well of Souls, along with other underground openings beneath the Temple Mount, is in Shimon Gibson and David Jacobson’s Below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: A Sourcebook on the Cisterns, Subterranean Chambers and Conduits of the Haram Al-Sharif.