The Adulam Park is dotted with ancient ruins from the Second Temple and from the Byzantine periods. Hurvat Burgin was only recently excavated, in 2008, ans is well worth a visit.
There is a marked trail leading to the hilltop and to the main attractions.
The name "Burgin" is an English distortion of the Arab word "burjain", meaning two citadels.
Archeologists have identified the second temple settlement discovered in Hurvat Burgin as Kfar Bish, mentioned in Josephus Flavius's writings.
From the top of the hill there are fine views towards the Adulam National Park, Tel Azeqa and the Hebron mountains. The excavated attractions include several caves.
One of the caves originally served as a water cistern, and converted during the Bar-Kochva Revolt against the Romans to a hiding place for the rebels. In the cave there are some
short passageways which require crawling (don't forget to bring a torch!), which is fun for adults and children alike.
The "Pillar Cave" is a small but impressive Byzantine burial cave carved in the rock, with two columns (with remains of decorations) in its middle.
A flight of stairs takes you down to a another cave, large burial cave from the 2nd Temple era.
The serenity of these ruins was suddenly disturbed by a loud burr of wings: These were black jackdaws coming out in a large flock out of the hole which serves as their home.
Near the entrance to Givat Yesha'ayahu there are the regional offices of the KKL (or JNF), and when you enter the main gate of the compound you are in for a surprise: There is an archeological park, a carefully laid out display representing core findings in archeological sites in the region.
The items on display are from the Second Temple (Hellenistic & Roman) period and from the Byzantine period. There is a sarcophagus, an ossuary, tombstones from graves of the rich (imported marble) and the poor (local limestone), oil presses, and more.
Entrance is free.
It's an interesting stop in every road trip in this area.
The Adulam Park is a vast (in Israeli terms...) open space of unspoiled natural beauty. It is located in the foothills of the Judean Hills, south of Beit Shemesh, with altitudes between 250m to 450 m above sea level and a total area of 50,000 dunams. There are bare hills with natura vegetation of shrubs and bushes, some JNF forests and some cultivated areas.
This area was more densely populated during the Second Temple period and during the Byzantine period, and contains several archeological sites which shed light on the way of life 1500-2000 years ago. The hills are made of chalk, which enabled the digging of many caves, cisterns and tunnels. Some of these can be readily explored today, but many have not been excavated yet.
During winter and spring there are many anemones and cyclamens with rich red and pink colors, and the valleys and hillsides are green. This is the best time to visit the Adulam Park.
There are a few roads which provide easy accss by car to the main sites, and bike trails and hiking trails are all around.
Here in what seems to be the middle of nowhere, on the edge of a small farming settlement, called a "Moshav", you will find the Sternbach Winery, established by Hans Sternbach and run today by his son Gadi and their vinter Emmanuel. Also Gadi offers many dishes from his kitchen in a small restaurant that used to be his living room. These dishes run from home made Houmus (chick-peas) to several types of soft cheeses and even smoked meats. The vineyard is small, bordering on the "boutique" class, but they are planning to expand. In the summer they have an outdoor sitting area that has a great view of the adjoing green valley where the grapes are grown.
Favorite Dish: We enjoyed talking with Gadi who before his retirement was a tourist guide and now runs his home restaurant. After eating our fill of his offerings (there is a 66 Shekel "eat as much as you like" offering for breakfast with egg and cheeses), we went for a short tour with Emmanuel of the winery to see where they make the wine and receive an explanation of the types of grapes and what they want to achieve with them.
The wine was very good on several levels so we took several bottles home.
Several years ago when this restaurant opened it was quite good, both service and food. Well that has CHANGED. They recently changed owners and apparently the new owners refuse to pay money to their staff, cooks and waiters....what this means is:
1) Waited more than 30 minutes till we got first service.
2) Dishes were dirty, especially the glasses and water carafe.
3) Served bread plate but they forgot the dips.
4) Entrees that we ordered never arrived.
5) Main courses were mistakenly given to another table.
6) One main course arrived cold.
7) One main course arrived different from that ordered.
8) Side dishes came 10 minutes AFTER we received the main courses.
9) Manager came to apologise and told us to order something different, he NEVER came back to ask what we would like.
10) When we asked for the check it took 15 minutes to get it and that only after repeating our request 5-6 times.
11) They tried to charge us for the Entrees and side dishes that we never even received.
Favorite Dish: Favorite dish at this restaurant is one that we eat at a DIFFERENT RESTAURANT.
Giv'at Yesha'ayahu was originally founded by Hungarian Jews, but Avi's wife, Zehava, is of Kurdish origin, and knows all the secrets of Kurdish cuisine.
We had lunch here after a trip to the nearby Adulam National Park. Located in an extension of Avi and Zehava's home, the ambience is certainly homely. We were warmly greeted by Avi and Zehava and selected a corner table overlooking their yard and herb garden.
Initially all we had in mind was a light lunch, but it turned out that we could not order a la carte, but had to order the set menu of a full meal. Although not our original plan, we were very happy and satisfied with all the dishes that were brought to us and crowded our table.
We started with an excellent kubbe soup: the "white" variety was a clear broth with a strong hissop ("zaatar") flavor, the "red" variety was a bit hotter, with tomatos. The kubbe consisted of cemelina dumplings filled with meat.
Next, a selection of tasty stuffed vegetables and several fresh salads were brought to our table. Then the main course arrived, beef and chicken with rice and noodles.
We finished this sumptuous meal with herbal tea and a cemelina cake with rose water.
After the meal Avi showed us arounf the herb garden and offered us cuttings of some of the herbs.
We greatly enjoyed the meal and the hospitality.