Jerusalem Metropolitan Park - A Green Lung for Israel's Capital

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

A Green Park for a Golden City: The Jerusalem Ring is a new metropolitan park that extends over some 1,500 hectares (3700 acres), surrounding Israel's capital to the north, west, and south.

  • How to get there

    • To Ha’arazim Valley Park: From Highway 1, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, drive toward Har Hotzvim and then follow the signs to Ha’arazim Valley and the Twin Towers Memorial.
    • To Tzofim River Park: From the Givat Hamivtar Light Rail Terminal on the road that descends to the valley. Another way is near the Yad Hamoreh School for Special Education in Ramat Eshkol, where you descend on the road below Ulpenot Tzviya.
    • To Refa’im Valley Park: There is one entrance from the direction of Ein Yael, on the road to Ein el Hanniya and then to Ein Lavan and the Walaja Springs. There is another entrance from the parking lot at the Biblical Zoo—take "Nadav’s Road" toward Ein Lavan to the road that joins the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Bicycle Trail.
    • To the Motza Valley Park: One way is from the direction of the Ein Kerem Agricultural School, between the Ein Kerem traffic circle and the Sataf traffic circle. Another way is from the Motza exit—park near the Red House and then descend on the dirt road that goes to the dam.

  • Geographic location-

    Jerusalem - Judean highlands and surroundings
  • Area-

  • Special Sites in the Park-

    Ha’arazim Valley Park, Jerusalem Ring Route, Twin Towers Memorial, Tzofim River Park, Refa’im Valley Park, Motza Valley Park.
  • Facilities-

    Picinic - Barbecue area, Lookout, Active recreation area, Marked path, Accessible site.
  • Access-

    Special (adapted for the disabled)
  • Type of parking-

    Accessible parks,Overnight parks,Picnic parks
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks,Lookouts,Archeology

Projects and Partners Worldwide

Jerusalem Park was developed thanks to contributions from
friends of KKL-JNF in Israel and abroad, including the USA
France, Australia and Germany.

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

About the Park

Four Parks in One

Jerusalem has had the good fortune to be the first city in Israel to be encompassed by green parks as part of the plan to improve the city's quality of life and to protect its natural surroundings. The Jerusalem Ring is a new metropolitan park that extends over some 1,500 hectares (3700 acres), surrounding the capital to the north, west, and south. The park will preserve ancient landscapes while offering a variety of leisure and recreation opportunities, including a sports center, footpaths and bicycle trails, picnic sites and quiet corners, cafes and playgrounds. It is already very popular, even though it is still developing constantly, with thousands of visitors arriving from all over Israel and the world.
Photo: Malka Brakai, KKL-JNF Jerusalem
Large, open expanses, some of which were used for ancient farming in earlier centuries, agricultural terraces built of local, natural stones, the remains of canals and pools that were used for irrigation and watering herds, ruins and natural springs that are still flowing underground and trickling into small pools with lush flora all around—you will find all this and more in the Jerusalem Park.

Only one hundred years ago, the Jerusalem Hills were the exclusive province of nature, which surrounded the Old City and the new city that had just begun to grow in its environs. Believe it or not, there are still foxes prowling on the edges of Jerusalem as well as jackals, rodents and all kinds of birds. Green organizations succeeded in halting the building development project known as the Safdie Plan, which threatened to bury all this beauty under concrete and cement. Subsequently, an alternate plan was conceived, to develop the Jerusalem Park on the outskirts of the city, a metropolitan park.

The Government of Israel, the Jerusalem Municipality, KKL JNF, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and the Jerusalem Development Authority got together, stopped the bulldozers and created facts on the ground in order to create a green ring around the golden city.

1. Arazim Valley Park

The Entrance to the City

Arazim Valley Park includes some of the most impressive natural beauty to be found in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Its location between the growing town of Mevasseret Zion and the densely-populated northern neighborhoods of the capital provides the ideal setting for an intensively-developed park offering diverse recreational opportunities for all.
Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.

Anyone who has driven along the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem highway has seen the picturesque landscape of Arazim Valley to the north of the road, just below the entrance to the city. The entire base of the valley and most of the supporting slopes are free of construction. Some areas have been planted; others are covered by farming terraces; and others still are covered with typical native shrubs. The distinction between this open, pastoral landscape and the nearby urban landscape is sharp and impressive.

The main entrances to the park will be situated close to Motsa interchange and alongside Golda interchange (the Ramot road). A network of paved park roads and bicycle trails will ensure easy access by motor vehicle, bicycle, and on foot to the various attractions and facilities, and will provide access from Lifta, Ramot, and Mevasseret Yerushalayim.

Forestry activity in the park will include restoring and planting orchards, and maintaining existing forests and woods including ancient cedar and olive groves. Indigenous broad-leafed tree species will be planted.

Arazim River is a dry streambed. Its flow channel will be rehabilitated and two water-based activity bases are planned. The "Meadow" is an intensive recreation area enjoying artesian water sources that emerged to the surface following development work. The water will be channeled into a pool and aqueduct, creating wading pools for children, lawns, and shaded corners. At the Einot Telem Springs the ancient terrace agriculture typical of the area with its irrigation system, will be recreated.

At Einot Telem are remains of a small Jewish settlement – Bet Talma. The land (60 acres, 23 hectares) was purchased in 1906 and a building intended for a soap and oil factory was erected. The two-storey structure (whose remains can be seen at the site) was never completed, and the site was eventually abandoned.

In 1922 five Jewish families settled at Einot Telem, naming their settlement Emek HaArazim. The site was abandoned during the 1929 Arab Riots, and further settlement attempts were unsuccessful.

2. Motsa Valley Park

Water and Pioneering Heritage

The broad Sorek River valley extends west of Jerusalem and south of Motsa interchange, over approximately 1250 acres (500 hectares). This is a diverse area rich in natural habitats and in remnants of the ancient agriculture that once flourished in the area and includes water sources and forested areas. According to the park's planning concept the sections closest to the streambed will be developed intensively and the slopes will be planted with a variety of trees.
Photo: Yossi Zamir, KKL-JNF Jerusalem.

Park entrances will be developed at Old Motsa in the north, near the ancient synagogue and historic Yelin House, and from Kerem intersection in the south. Development at the southern entrance will include a café, information desk, car park, and restrooms. The main park route, including the main bicycle trail, will begin at this entrance and continue north along Sorek River. The Bet Zayit Reservoir will be a focal point for tours, offering opportunities to observe plant and wildlife. Development includes activity points, informational and directional signs, and long-term maintenance.

The park includes two additional recreational hubs:

- A small lake above the Bet Zayit Reservoir, in the heart of the park. Facilities will include a restaurant, water-based recreation, sports and active recreation facilities, picnic areas, lawns, parking, footpaths and bicycle trails.

- A broad three-kilometer long promenade will connect the northern and southern entrances, including a four-meter wide footpath with seating areas, a bicycle trail, and shaded lookouts along the lake.

On the forested slopes minimal-impact development will create a green area connecting the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem, nearby communities, and the core area of the park. Existing groves and forests will be tended (including supplementary planting) and forest paths improved with shaded seating areas. In some cases new paths will be developed.

The archeological remnants from the Biblical and Second Temple periods and abundant water sources near the ancient Motsa Synagogue support the assumption that this was the location of the Biblical city of Motsa. The synagogue was in active use until the riots of 1929, but was later abandoned until 1961, when the first families moved into the new community of Lower Motsa.

Yelin House was the first house established in Motsa, the first Jewish farming settlement established outside city walls in modern times. Yehoshua Yelin built his family home close to a Crusader farmhouse that served as an inn for travelers on the road to Jerusalem. Yelin House, located near the old synagogue has been renovated.

3. Refa’im Valley Park

The Green Park

Refa’im Valley Park, the southern section of the Jerusalem Ring, extends over some 1250 acres (500 hectares), bordering on the western and southern fringes of the city, and includes green extensions penetrating deep into urban areas along Nahal Gilo and Nahal Sharafat. Development style and intensity will vary with the transition from urban areas to the open spaces on the west.

The park has been designed to offer various recreational opportunities and to foster the bond between the public and the park, bringing together different social and ethnic groups. Signs, leaflets, and maps will provide information and enrich the visiting experience.

The Railroad Park is a strip of open space that forms the urban section of the park, extending from the heart of the city and along the abandoned railroad track from the Khan Theater westwards. This green boulevard used for urban leisure and recreation: footpaths, pergolas, and seating areas.

The main entrance with the intensive recreation section will be developed between Teddy Stadium, Ein Yael and the Biblical Zoo. Open areas in this section will be upgraded and connected forming the entrance to the park, with an information kiosk, parking, lawns, cafés, and leisure and active recreation facilities, such as a large water sports facility and various shaded lookouts along the valley.

The nature recreation section in the western section of the park will be more natural, less intensively developed. The dry streambed will be the focus for development of additional wooded areas, roads, paths, and bridges. Visitors can enjoy traditional agricultural landscapes, and the series of springs in the area. Three springs – Ein Lavan, Ein Walaja, and Ein el Hanniya – will be restored and developed for the benefit of the growing number of visitors.

Water, in the past as today, was of the utmost importance. The spring of Ein el Hanniya in Refa'im Valley was the water source for a public fountain dating back to Roman times, called a nympheon. From there water was carried along a hewed channel to a large pool and then on to irrigation channels.

4. Tsofim Valley Park

Tsofim Valley, the eastern section of Nahal Sorek Valley, is characterized by the KKL-JNF pine forests planted in the 1950s. Residents of the new neighborhoods north of Nahal Tsofim use the valley for leisure and recreation. Development will include playgrounds, leisure corners, footpaths, and cycling trails. Forested areas will be less developed in order to protect local wildlife.

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

4. Tsofim Valley Park

Tsofim Valley, the eastern section of Nahal Sorek Valley, is characterized by the KKL-JNF pine forests planted in the 1950s. Residents of the new neighborhoods north of Nahal Tsofim use the valley for leisure and recreation. Development will include playgrounds, leisure corners, footpaths, and cycling trails. Forested areas will be less developed in order to protect local wildlife.

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

5. Tsurim Valley Park

Tsurim Valley lies between Mount Scopus and the Old City of Jerusalem. Steps leading down from the Hebrew University, offer beautiful views of the Temple Mount. The valley includes footpaths and the Jerusalem Ring Bicycle Trail will also pass through this section. The park extends over 43 acres (17 hectares) and includes some 350 olive trees and a few impressive Atlantic pistachios, about 1000 young fruit trees, ancient cisterns and a burial cave.

There are two entrances that lead to this green lung. The main one is located near the Givat Hamivtar terminal of the Light Rail Line. From the parking lot next to the junction there is a paved road that descends to the KKL JNF sign, which marks the starting point of the bicycle trail and has a map of the park with descriptions of its routes. The trail is suitable for walking or cycling, and it is not for motor vehicles. The bicycle trail that was blazed in the heart of the park is paved with asphalt and it has inclines that are mostly easy, although there are a few more difficult segments.

Photo: Yossi Zamir, KKL-JNF Jerusalem
This is a one-way route, and hikers and bikers are supposed to walk or cycle in one direction and end up where they started. There is an additional option, which is to enter a side path and exit from the park’s back entrance, which is located in Ramat Eshkol near the school for special education. The entrance in Ramat Eshkol offers a great view of the valley and the neighborhoods that surround it. Those who continue the length of the park can reach almost all the way to the Golda Interchange and back. Future plans include another trail segment that will connect the route to Emek Ha’arazim Park.

Along the banks of Nahal Tzofim, KKL-JNF planted pines, cypress and fruit trees towards the end of the twentieth century. Nahal Tzofim flows in the rainy season and becomes a rushing river in high winter. Special concrete channels regulate the rainwater that drains from the residential neighborhoods into the streambed channel. There is wildlife in the vicinity including jackals, foxes, rock hyraxes, porcupines and a diversity of birds.

Along the main trail one can see burial caves from the Second Temple period and many quarries. Some academics believe that the stones for the temple were hewn in the area of Nahal Tzofim. KKL-JNF has installed two recreation areas here, with stone picnic tables, benches made of stone and wood, water fountains, and black gravel surfaces with state of the art recreational equipment made of gray metal with some orange touches. These include swings, parallel bars, chairs, climbing bridges, colorful rocking horses for tots and a slide. The park has a wonderful footpath and is a good place for the people who live in the nearby neighborhoods for recreation and contemplation.

Jerusalem Ring Route

There will be a 45km ring road for bicycles encircling the city. The greater part of the trail traversing the park will be suitable for family cycling. Most of the route has already been completed. There are only two segments that still have to be finished. The path passes by the old train tracks across from the Han caravansary in the Railroad Park and proceeds from there to Malkha and Emek Refa’im.

The route continues from Emek Motza to Emek Ha’arazim and from there to Nahal Tzofim. The plans for completing the route include a segment that will encircle the Old City and return to the Han caravansary and complete the circular route. Scenic observation points have been constructed all along the bicycle route.

The 9/11 Twin Towers Memorial

The Twin Towers Memorial is one of the more interesting tourist attractions in Ha’arazim Park, and it attracts many visitors annually. It was constructed on Alona Hill by KKL JNF with the help of a contribution from friends of KKL JNF in the USA to commemorate the victims of the terror attack in New York on September 11, 2001.

It was planned and designed in the course of eight years by landscape architect Yehiel Cohen and artist Eliezer Weisshoff, who conceived of the idea and suggested it to KKL JNF in 2002. The idea was received enthusiastically and was then presented to the Jerusalem Municipality and its twin city—New York. When the decision was made to go ahead with the project, KKL JNF fundraised a million dollars for it.

9/11 memorial. Photo: Yoav Devir.

After a complex process of selecting a location for the memorial and obtaining the necessary permits for the installation, it was decided that the site should be next to the portal of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv express train. The site was also approved by the green organizations and, after an additional million dollars were fundraised, construction work began. The memorial was constructed within an almost impossible time frame and was completed a few hours before the guests arrived for the dedication ceremony.

The memorial for those who perished in the Twin Towers was symbolically positioned directly in view of Har Hamenuhot, the main cemetery of Jerusalem. After walking down a few stairs one can view the memorial with the surrounding landscape in the background, and then, after walking all the way down the stairs to the lower level, one communes with the monument and the sky and there is a sense of convergence and power.

The monument was designed in bronze and aluminum, and it was inspired by an image of the American flag waving in the wind and resembling a memorial flame six meters high that reaches for the sky. The pedestal of the monument contains a piece of molten steel from the remains of the frame of the collapsed edifice, which can be viewed through a glass pane. The names of all the people who perished are engraved in large letters that recall typography from the last century. One name follows another in a list that never seems to end. The site is wheelchair accessible.

Walking and Cycling Trails

In June 2011, the new walking and cycling trails completed by KKL JNF for the benefit of the residents of the Ramot neighborhood were inaugurated. The trails are marked in blue, black, red and green, and their total length is about ten kilometers. The routes in the park were planned with attention to nature and especially to the wildlife prevalent in the area. Residents of the Ramot neighborhood will enjoy having direct access to one of the largest green lungs of Jerusalem.

The Ramot Forest, which is located southwest of the Ramot neighborhood, has become a starting point for footpaths and bike paths. There is also a Twins Trail, which goes from the forest to Emek Ha’arazim and on to Einot Telem. Of the four new footpaths, two were also made suitable for bicycles—the blue trail, which follows the length of the Promenade Route via Hedgehog Park and the Zion Levy Picnic Area, and the black trail, which follows the length of the Mitzpe Naftoah ridge and encompasses the municipal park. The two footpaths to be inaugurated are the red trail, which starts at Hedgehog Park and follows the circular Deer Route, and the green trail, which also begins at Hedgehog Park and descends to Emek Ha’arazim.