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Latrun and the Ayalon Valley

Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies.

Joshua 10: 12-13

The Ayalon Valley was the site of a battle in which the Israelites, led by Joshua, defeated the Amorites. Standing at Latrun, one of the high points in the valley, it is easy to see why the Ayalon Valley has been a site of strategic importance through the ages. It is here that the road from the Mediterranean coast splits in two directions, both leading to Jerusalem. One goes through Sha’ar haGay (today the main road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem), and the other goes more northwards, via Beit Horon. Not only did Joshua succeeded in battle here – King David smote the Philistines, the Egyptians, the Maccabees, and the Crusaders battled their way to Jerusalem, and during the War of Independence (1948), there was a bloody combat between Israeli and the Arab armies to secure the route to Jerusalem.

Today there is a thriving Trappist monastery, parts of which date from Crusader times. The walkways of the monastery frame vineyards from which they make grape juice and wine, and the Abbey is an interesting mixture of Byzantine and Gothic styles.

The monks keep a vow of silence, except, of course, for those who sell wine and olive oil to visitors. The origin on the name, Latrun, is not clear. Some hold that it comes from a twelfth-century castle on this spot called La Tour de Chevaliers (“the knights’ tower”). Later travelers believed the name was connected to the Latin word latro (thief) and saw this site as the home of the “good thief” crucified next to Jesus (Luke 23:40-43)

Monastery hours: 09:00-11:00 and 15:30-16:30 (except Sundays and Christian holidays).
Wine Store: 07:30-18:00.

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