One of the most rewarding walks in Bethlehem was through the lush village of Artas on the way to Herodium. Artas has a unique ecosystem and is an abundant agricultural valley at the edge of the desert. It is fed be several springs and the famous Solomon’s Pools, a unique aqueduct system going back to the 1st century (Roma era). The area is breathtaking. A walk across a stone bridge leads to the Convent of Hortus Conclusas, which in Latin means “enclosed garden”. It was built in 1901 and houses a preschool for local children. Artas is one of the most important agricultural villages in the West Bank and is considered the food basket of Bethlehem. It is also famous for it’s annual Lettuce Festival. Witnessing the abundance of Palestinian land in this way has been a rare experience.
All images © 2015 Iris Brito Stevens. All rights reserved.