Tel Tzova – Ruins of a Crusader castle and Arab village in the Judean Hills. Beautiful view of the surrounding hills.
No admission fee.
Directions: From Route 1, exit at the Mevasseret Tzion interchange and go towards the Sataf traffic circle (route 386) and then towards Kibbutz Tzova (Route 395). From Route 38, go towards Eshtaol and then take route 395 through Ramat Raziel and continuing to Kibbutz Tzova. Enter the kibbutz and continue past the hotel guest rooms and its sports field. You will soon see a glass factory on your left. Continue straight up a narrow paved road. You will see a sign for the pathway to the Tel. Park on the right side of the road.
A Tel is a mound containing layers from different time periods. When a building was destroyed, at a later period another building was built on top of the ruins.
In the days of Joshua (12th century BCE) there was a Jewish settlement here. The Crusaders built a fortress in 1170 to guard the route to Jerusalem. They named it Belmont, meaning beautiful hill. In 1191 it was captured by the Ayyubid sultan Saladin. It was destroyed in 1834 by the Egyptians when Arabs from nearby Abu Gosh rebelled. Until 1948 there was an Arab village on the site. In 1948 the Arabs were hostile to the Jews. They participated in the siege of Jerusalem by ambushing convoys and assisting the Arab Legion fighting for the nearby strategic hill - the Castel. In July 1948, the Palmach conquered this village with the assistance of the frightening sound of the famous Davidka mortar shell.
There are a number of pathways to get to the top. From the road, go up the main path. In a few minutes turn left at the sign. Go up the steps and follow the trail. You will be passing a thick Crusader wall. Continue on the trail through the ruins of the village. Be careful as you walk through the ruins. There are many pits which were used as water cisterns. It is possible to climb up to the roof of the nearby building to get a panoramic view of the area. Be very careful. Have someone stand in the middle “of the steps” assisting people go up and down. On the top you will realize why this area was very strategic throughout the ages. Enjoy the beautiful views. The trail down begins at the side of the building. Explore interesting rooms from the Crusader and Ottoman periods.
I suggest visiting this site in conjunction with the Tzova Springs