Pilgrimages in Southern Israel, Horvat Yatir

Horvat Yatir. Photo: Yaakov Skolnik, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Pilgrimage to sites mentioned in the Bible that can be visited today, enjoy walking trails, recreation areas and parks in KKL-JNF forests.

  • How to get there

    From the Shoket Junction - Hebron highway (Route 60), adjacent to kilometer marker 17, some two kilometers to the north of the community of Meitar, turn southwards following the signs to the scenic road that leads to Tel Yatir. The Horvat Yatir ruins cover an area of more than 1,000 dunam (approx 250 acres).
  • Geographic location-

    Northern and western Negev
  • Area-

  • Target audience-

  • Track type-

    Walking path
  • Season-

  • Other sites in the area-

    Other places in the area that are worth a visit include: Yatir Forest’s recreation areas, the scenic route from Meitar to Yatir, the Foresters’ House, the view from Mount Amsha, the Kiryot HaTzofeh scenic lookout towards the Judean Desert and the remains of a Roman road beside Mount Amsha.
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks

The site was developed with contributions from friends of KKL JNF worldwide.

Horvat Yatir - Southern Israel

Yatir is mentioned in the Bible as a Levite city in the portion of land allocated to the tribe of Judah:
“Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs. And Yattir with her suburbs…,” (Joshua 21:13-14).

The Bible relates that David sent to Yatir some of the spoils of his war against the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:28). The city is depicted on the Madaba Mosaic Map that portrays the Land of Israel in the Byzantine period.

Our tour of the ruins begins at Yatir Well (B’er Yattir), which, despite its name, is in fact a cistern, and which is located near the Scenic Road. From here we climb the slope up to the remains of the tombs of Sheikh al-Atiri and Sheikh Zaabi, which are at the top of the site and from which a fine view of the area can be seen. From here we descend westwards to the ruins of an ancient collection pool whose sides are partially plastered. A little further on we come to the remains of two rows of pillars and walls that belonged to a Byzantine church where handsome mosaic floors were discovered, including inscriptions that showed the church to have been in use in the 7th century CE. At present the mosaics have been covered up until circumstances allow them to be exposed to public view.