Horvat Midras – Visitors Guide – Lovely Hike and Plenty Things to See


Columbarium cave at Midras Ruins, Israel

Horvat Midras is a short circular trail with beautiful nature and significant archaeological remains, including a pyramid and caves. Let’s begin!

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Map

Midras Ruins are located not far from Beit Shemesh, close to Bet Guvrin National Park. There are many excellent trails in this area. And though it is about halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, meaning it is higher at the hills, it still gets boiling during summer. Thus either come early or better visit during Spring or Autumn.

To get there, enter “Horvat Midras” into navigation program.

Map of the area:

Entrance Fee

Free.

Opening Hours

You can visit at any time. Just make sure to finish before dark, as there is no illumination along the route (the trail takes about two hours at a slow pace).

Trails

It is an easy trail to navigate through. We did not use any maps. I entered “Midras Ruins” into Waze, and from the parking, we just followed signs like this one.

Trail sign at Horvat Midras
Trail sign at Horvat Midras

Here is an interactive map from israelhiking.osm.org.il where this trail is marked:

And here are the details of this trail:

#NameColor of the Trail on the Map aboveDescriptionDistance (km)Total climb and descent (meters)Notes
1Short Round TrailBlueThe standard round route, starting with the blue trail and then switching to the green path which leads back.1.694You can also walk in the opposite direction.

At the beginning of the trail, we started climbing on top of a hill. And here we are looking back towards the parking, which is just behind the line of trees.

Horvat Midras

Most of the path has no shade, thus do not forget water and sunscreen.

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel

As I mentioned, this is a circular route. We turned left to the hideout system at this sign and returned from the right trail, the columbarium.

Adulam Grove Nature Reserve

Horvat Midras is part of the Adulam Grove Nature Reserve. Adulam Grove Nature Reserve extends over 5,000 dunams.

Different species of animals inhabit this area, including mountain gazelles, striped hyenas, caracals, badgers, and chukars. There are also many songbirds in this area.

The reserve is covered with wildflowers in spring, like orchids, buttercups, anemones, and narcissus. Thus, spring is the best time for a visit.

Along the route, we will see remains of the human settlement from the Second Temple period (third century BCE).

The Refugee Caves

It might not look like something big at a distance, but when you come closer, you will find vast hidden space.

The Refugee Caves at Horvat Midras
The Refugee Caves

The refugee caves are a system of underground chambers connected by narrow crawl spaces. Dozens of these systems were discovered in the Judean area. Many archeologists believe these caves were created during the Bar Kokhva revolt (132-135 CE). Jewish rebels used the caves as hiding places from the Roman army.

You can take the stairs to the bottom of the cave, and in the left corner, you can see a hole. The hole is a small and short tunnel that most kids can enjoy. If you plan to crawl inside, then better bring a flashlight and consider shirts with long sleeves.

The Refugee Caves at Horvat Midras

The tree in the refugee cave was home to a group of jackdaws, and here is one of them.

Western jackdaw at Midras Ruins, Israel
Western jackdaw

Here is the inside of the tunnel lit with a flashlight.

Horvat Midras

The refugee cave from inside:

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel
Jackdaw
Jackdaw
Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel

Last photo from a short photo session with jackdaws 🙂

Jackdaw
Jackdaw

After exploring the cave for fifteen minutes, we continued up the hill towards the pyramid.

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel

Small burial cave on our way:

Burial cave at Horvat Midras
Burial cave at Horvat Midras

As you can see, we are still following the trail with blue markings.

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel

Spring is a good season for a visit. You can read about the weather and when it is best to visit Israel at Events And Festivals By Season.

Here are the flowers we saw on the way.

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel

I saw this rock on the way. It looks like a milling stone from an oil press.

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel
Flowers
Flowers

The Pyramid

At the top of the hill, we found a small pyramid.

The Pyramid at Horvat Midras
The Pyramid

This structure built of dresses stone is the only one of its kind in Israel. The base is about ten meters long, and it is currently 3.5 meters high. The top three rows of stone, together with which the height was around five meters, are missing.

The pyramid is located in the ancient village’s cemetery at Midras Ruins and was probably a monument to people buried in the cave below it.

View from the top of the pyramid into the valley.

The Pyramid at Horvat Midras

From the other side:

The Pyramid at Horvat Midras

Synagogue

Following a ten-minute walk, we reached the remains of an old synagogue. Next to each point of interest, there is a sign (in three languages) with a short description. Like this one:

Synagogue at Horvat Midras
Synagogue at Horvat Midras

The wall of the beautiful dressed stone suggests it is a public building. And the big rock next to the structure might have been part of a niche for the menorah and Torah scroll. The slot and the closeness to the Jewish burial cave support the theory that this was a synagogue.

Synagogue at Horvat Midras
Cyclamens
Cyclamens

Burial Cave

A large round stone protects the entrance to the burial cave. The rolling stone is a remnant of the great burial cave once located here. So maybe the rock we saw earlier was not a milling one.

Burial cave at Horvat Midras
Burial cave

The sherd discovered in the cave indicates that it was used from the end of the first century CE until the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Burial cave at Horvat Midras
Inside the cave

After this cave, we switched to the trail with green markings to lead us back to the parking.

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel

The Columbarium Cave

Here you can see the entrance to the columbarium.

Columbarium Cave at Horvat Midras
Columbarium Cave

Hundreds of Columbarium caves were found in this area. Usually close to ancient settlements.

Columbarium Cave at Horvat Midras
Columbarium Cave

There are dozens of small niches, ranging from 15 to 25 cm, were carved into the columbarium walls.

Columbarium cave at Midras Ruins, Israel

Scholars believe that doves were raised for food. Their dung was used as fertilizer. Also, some think that doves could serve for message passing and rituals.

Columbarium Cave at Horvat Midras

We exited the columbarium and headed back towards the parking lot. Towards the end of the path, it was around noon, and there were already many people on the trail.

Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel
Hike at Midras Ruins, Israel

The Midras Ruins trail is not a long one. It took us about two hours to complete the path. And if you make it at a good pace (no photography and food stops), then you can finish it in a little more than an hour. After the trail, you can find a table in the nearby forest for a short picnic. Just like we did.

Summary

Horvat Midras is a lovely circular route that both kids and adults will enjoy. There is a lot of nature, space for kids to run, and remains to explore. And there are also many points of interest along the way. On many trails, you walk for an hour or even more between different points of interest. But at Midras Ruins trail, you will find archeological remains every ten minutes.

All of the above make it a favorite trail among locals, and at some entrances to the caves, we had to wait for a while, but it was worth it.

Beit Guvrin National Park is called “Land Of A Thousand Caves.” But not all caves are located within its territory, and as you saw, some can be found along this route. If you want to see the caves and it is your first visit to this area, I would suggest visiting Beit Guvrin. In any other scenario, consider visiting Horvat Midras.

Have you visited Horvat Midras? Tell us in the comment below about your experience.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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