Latrun Monastery is the only Trappist monastery in Israelis, and it is located in the middle between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Let’s begin exploring!
Note: some also call it the Silent Monastery since the monks keep a vow of silence.
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What does Latrun mean?
If you remove the French preface “La,” you get something similar to the word tower. And indeed, behind Latrun Monastery, you can find remains of an old castle.
The name Latrun is ultimately derived from the ruins of a medieval castle. There are two theories regarding the origin of the name. One is that it is a corruption of the Old French Le toron des chevaliers (The Castle of the Knights), named by the Crusaders. The other is that it is from the Latin, Domus boni Latronis (The House of the Good Thief), a name given by 14th century Christian pilgrims after the penitent thief who was crucified by the Romans alongside Jesus (Luke 23:40–43).
Note: some translate “Le toron des chevaliers” as The Tower of the Knights.
Latrun Monastery is located next to Latrun Interchange on road #1 (Tel-Aviv – Jerusalem highway).
If you are using public transport, you can take a bus to the Latrun junction and walk there. Here is the preset link to Moovit, where you can set your origin and get the updated directions.
And if you are reaching by car, then enter the “Latrun Monastery” into Waze or Google Maps, and you will get there. Also, there is plenty of free parking on site.
Latrun is located at a strategic hilltop in the Latrun salient in the Ayalon Valley. It overlooks the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, 25 kilometers west of Jerusalem, and 14 kilometers southeast of Ramla. It was the site of fierce fighting during the 1948 war. During the 1948–1967 period, it was occupied by Jordan at the edge of a no man’s land between the armistice lines known as the Latrun salient. In the 1967 war, it was captured by Israel along with the whole salient and the West Bank and remains a part of Israel to this day.
The hilltop includes the Trappist Latrun Abbey, Mini Israel, a park with scale models of historic buildings around Israel, The International Center for the Study of Bird Migration (ICSBM), adjacent to Yad La-Shiryon Memorial and Museum. Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) is a joint Jewish-Arab community on a hilltop south of Latrun. Canada Park is nearby to the east.
In December 1890, a monastery was established at Latrun by French, German, and Flemish monks of the Trappists, from Sept-Fons Abbey in France, at the request of Monseigneur Poyet of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The monastery is dedicated to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. The liturgy is in French. The monks bought the ‘Maccabee Hotel’, formerly called ‘The Howard’ from the Batato brothers together with two-hundred hectares of land. They started the community in a building that still stands in the monastic domain. In 1909 it was given the status of a Priory and that of an Abbey in 1937. The monks established a vineyard using the knowledge gained in France and advice from an expert in the employ of Baron Edmond James de Rothschild from the Carmel-Mizrahi Winery. Today they produce a wide variety of wines that are sold in the Abbey shop and elsewhere.
The community was expelled by the Ottoman Turks between 1914–1918, and the buildings pillaged.
The Latrun monastery was rebuilt in 1926. The crypt was completed in 1933 and the church in 1954. The monastery was designed by the community’s first abbot, Dom Paul Couvreur, and is an example of Cistercian architecture. Much of the stained-glass windows were produced by a monk of the community.
Source of the last three quotes: Wikipedia.
Opening Hours of the Monastery: all days except Sunday and Christian holidays, 08:30 – 12:00 and 15:30 – 17:00.
Opening hours of the store: 08:30 – 17:30 – all days except Sunday.
Keep in mind that the hours may change, so if you want to make sure you can reach them by +972-8-9220065.
When you enter, you will see on your right (inside the arc) this is the door to the store.
Latrun monks create a variety of handmade products. Latrun is most famous for its wine. There are vineyards around the monastery, and monks prepare different kinds of wines. It is not expensive, as you might expect for handmade wines and many Israelis come there to shop.
Besides wines, there are also olive oil, olives, jams, honey, soap, and religious souvenirs.
If you take a look at the photo above, you will see that the gate is closed. We have arrived a little early, and the monastery was still closed.
When I climbed to the top of the stairs, I looked back and took this photo:
You can see that the monastery is located on a strategic hill. If you look straight ahead, you will see Lod, and a little to the left you can see Tel-Aviv’s skyscrapers. Such a strategic location, besides the views, has military importance. There were many battles over Latrun, and during the Six-Day War IDF gained control.
Also, from time to time, there are concerts in Latrun. Once, we bought tickets and expected the concert to be held inside the monastery. Instead, it was in the monk’s dining room. The acoustics was horrible. So if you want to go to a concert in a church, instead of Latrun, I would recommend Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem. The concerts are held in the church on-premises. Moreover, after the concert, you can climb Augusta Victoria’s tower (sometimes it is free, and sometimes they charge 5 NIS) to view Jerusalem from the East.
Here is the list of other nearby attractions in Latrun area:
- Yad La-Shiryon – The Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun.
- Mini Israel is a miniature park. And according to the official site, it “features over 385 beautifully crafted replica models of Israel’s most important historical, religious, archaeological and modern sites, at a scale of 1:25, including 25,000 7cm high miniature residents within the models themselves”.
- Emmaus Nicopolis was the Roman name for one of the towns associated with the Emmaus of the New Testament, where Jesus is said to have appeared after his death and resurrection. Emmaus was the seat of the Roman Emmaus. In contrast, Nicopolis was the name of the city from the 3rd century CE until Palestine’s conquest by the Muslim forces of the Rashidun Caliphate in 639. In the modern age, the site was the location of the Palestinian Arab village of Imwas, near the Latrun junction, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, before its destruction in 1967. The site today is inside Canada Park, a place maintained by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. However, the archaeological site has been cared for by a resident French Catholic community since 1993. (source).
And you can combine several attractions for a half-day trip.
Overall this can be a nice shortstop while driving from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem or vice versa. You can also combine the Latrun Monastery visit with one of the POI mentioned in the previous section. But if you love nature and look for a beautiful place for a stop (on the way from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem), I would recommend a short detour to visit Avshalom Cave.
Have you visited Latrun Monastery? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.