Israel is famous for its plentiful World Heritage Sites. And this should not surprise, as the history of this country has started with the very beginning of the Humanity; all of the Human History is reflected here.
And still, Beit Guvrin-Maresha is a really surprising place. The fame of this unique site is primarily due to its 480 man-made caves. Over the course of thousands years, people lived in the city of Maresha and used these caves as houses of worship and quarries, storehouses and water cisterns, as stables, workshops, shelters and cemeteries.
Among these caves there are over 80 were used once for raising doves – the Columbariums. The biggest and most famous one dates from the 3rd Century BC. It has over 2,000 nesting niches carved into the soft chalk stone, reflecting the ancient use of doves for the sacrificial offerings as well as for food– the Ancients loved eating dove's meat and eggs and used their dung as fertilizes.
Maresha' Phoenician burial cave dating some 2200 years ago is renowned for its beautifully preserved frescoed walls painted with burial urns, different animals and a famous three-headed Cerberus dog guiding the gates of the underground world - the Hades.
Even that would be more than enough to declare Beit Guvrin-Maresha a World Heritage site. But there are much more wonders here, indeed.
Ancient Maresha was destroyed in the 1st Century BC by the invading Parthians. Soon a new town of Beit Guvrin was built nearby. First this was a prosperous Jewish town, but it was turned into ashes by the raging Romans in the 2nd Century AD, after the bloody Jewish revolt of Bar Kokhba.
A new Roman town was built above the destroyed Jewish one. And this is where the Victorious Romans found an ingenious way to punish Jewish POWs – they turned them into the gladiators.
A huge Amphitheater was built at Beit Guvrin to entertain the local Romans. 14 rows of this Amphitheater were filled with the bloodthirsty audience hailing horrible scenes of human beings killing each other or being killed by the wild animals. And today this Amphitheater still stands and an evidence of the Roman world and Jewish History.
Excavations at Beit Guvrin are far from being concluded. Recently a chain of Roman storehouses was uncovered and is now open for the visit, together with the Crusade Church, later turned into the Mosque by the Mamelukes. But even much more is still covered by the debris waiting to further surprise the World.
Want to read more? – Just check our sites www.go-telaviv.com and www.wiz.holiday. And whenever you choose to see this miraculous place with your own eyes, you are welcome to join one of our private tours.
PHOENICIAN BURIAL CAVE
DESCENDING THE UNDERGROUND WORLD