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Ein Matta spring can be reached by a 2 km circular trail from Horvat Hanot (see separate tip). It's a pleasant hike downhill from Horvat Hanot, among pine trees with their intoxicating scent, to the wadi. This is Nachal Matta, opening into Nachal Zanoah, a larger wadi.
The spring itself is small, with a miniature pond. However, the attractions are the views, typical of the Judean Hills, and the vegetation: The spring is located near tall eucalyptus trees, with a huge fig tree near it. Behind the eucalyptus trees there is a grove of beautiful palm trees arranged in straight rows. Around this area there are a few houses in ruins, making the place more picturesque. In Byzantine times there used to be a monastery here.
The trail is marked in black, but also forms part of "The Israel Trail" (Shvil Yisrael), and therefore also has white-orange-blue marks.
Updated Sep 10, 2011
Address: Near Moshav Matta
On the ridge above Matta, near the road, there is a small but interesting ruin. It is called Horvat Hanot, and used to serve as a road station along the ancient route climbing from the Ella Valley to Jerusalem. The ruins of the building date from the Mamluk period (13th-14th century), and also include a water cistern and a wine press.
The ruin was excavated in 1986, and to the archaeologists' surprise they found more ancient remains: a well preserved mosaic floor from a Byzantine church dating from the 6th century AD. Contrary to the usual procedure of transporting the mosaic floor to an archaeological museum, they decided to leave this mosaic floor in place, and only cover it with sand for protection.
When you visit the ruin you are welcome to use a brush (there is one on site, but to be sure you can bring a sweeping brush or a broom with you!), sweep the sand aside and uncover the beautiful mosaic floor. We did that, and the excitement of revealing more and more of the mosaic was well worth the effort!
Written Sep 10, 2011