In light of the 75th anniversary of Israel next year, you may wonder where you could travel in the country to find an enjoyable and somewhat unusual place to vacation for you and your family. Look no further:
The place you are looking for is Timna Park, located in the southern-most portion of the country, only 18 miles from Eilat and less than 170 miles from Jerusalem. It is situated directly across from the beautiful new Ramon/Timna Airport, and along the new superhighway 90. It is also near Petra, the noted tourist attraction, which is just across the border in Jordan, an easy side trip.
Timna is a scenic place of great geologic and historic importance. It comprises about 17,000 acres of land with gorgeous, striped hillsides, veined in red, purple and green, the green being copper. There are amazing stone formations, like King Solomon’s pillars, picturesque arches and strange rock spires called hoodoos (like those in Zion National Park), which were formed over millions of years. There are also literally thousands of ancient copper mines, dug out of solid rock, which are some of the oldest in the world. They date from 1000 BCE, which is precisely the time attributed to King Solomon. In fact, many now believe that these are the fabled King Solomon’s mines, though they are of copper, not gold or diamonds.
To give you an idea of the beauty of the park, the Jerusalem Post describes “Timna By Twilight” as follows:
“Underneath a deep, endless azure and violet sky and surrounded by vibrant hues of golden orange and blood red – the sun begins to set just above the horizon. The landscape is marked by monumental geological architecture – natural rock formations and ancient quarries whose faces nakedly bear the scars and stains of tens of millions of years’ worth of environmental and human cultural evolution.”
When you go to the park, you should start at the visitor center, which bears my family’s name. The rangers there can provide you with useful information for your own self-guided tour or you can hire a knowledgeable guide. There are numerous exhibits detailing the history of copper mining, which was key to the area, and containing many artifacts. In particular, they will have the revolutionary find of the oldest purple dye in the world on woven material, from 1000 BCE, which is Solomon’s time, carefully preserved in a climate-controlled display case. It is biblical argaman, as described in King Solomon’s robe and priestly garments. There will also be a short movie detailing how the dyed fabric was manufactured, found and its importance in validating the biblical narrative. You can also rent bicycles there, both electric and muscle-powered, and purchase snacks and cold drinks.
Next to the visitor center there is a computer-controlled, air-conditioned, renovated surround theater. There is a movie that provides a more detailed description of the history of the area and the copper smelting process. Although the artisans who did the copper smelting were tent-dwellers, their methods were extremely advanced and are now only fully understood. It now appears that the copper goods from Timna were distributed worldwide and may have been the source of Solomon’s wealth.
From the entry area, you can go to the beautiful lake and the facilities there.
The lake was the first man-made lake in the Middle East. It is a miracle of engineering, existing in the desert. You can ride the swan boats or visit the fine restaurant lakeside or the first-class gift shop. Your kids can make unique colored sand bottle souvenirs to take home.
You can also hike the numerous trails or, if you are adventurous, climb King Solomon’s pillars or crawl or walk through the many abandoned mines. Caution, though: Some of the mines were dug by children so you may have to duck your head or squeeze through.
There are also facilities for overnight stay, including glamping, tents, caravans and air-conditioned trailers. There are numerous luxurious bed-and-breakfasts in the vicinity in the neighboring kibbutzim and, of course, the hotels in Eilat are within a stone’s throw. Soon there will be a 300-room hotel in the park. There is even a Burger King at the airport for junk foodies.
The park offers many activities for people of all ages. They now offer twilight lantern-light tours in the cool evening, as well as dawn-light tours. Stargazing is amazing and they have yoga festivals, balloon festivals, dance performances and music concerts with such performers as David Broza. They also hosted a season of the Israeli Opera Company. Imagine seeing “Salome” performed against the imposing backdrop of King Solomon’s pillars, which provided amazing acoustics. They even have jazz concerts and once had a circus at the lake.
For lovers, Timna was also voted one of the most romantic places in Israel.
So if you are looking for a unique historic, fun get-away, go to Timna. You and your family will enjoy it.
I and my family have been involved with the Park for 40 years, contributing to its creation, construction and continued development, together with Jewish National Fund-USA and the Israeli Government. For further information on visiting the park, contact our local office at 323-964-1400. Tell them David Chudnow sent you.
David Chudnow is an attorney practicing in Los Angeles and has contributed to the creation, construction and continued development of Timna Park in Israel
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