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| Walking Tour: Tzuba Spring and Tel Tzuba

Zev Stub    
Thursday, 20 April 10:02 AM

From, a new website of outdoor activities in Jerusalem and surrounding areas that includes guided walks in Jerusalem, hikes in the surrounding countryside, family bicycle rides, outdoor swimming and horseback riding.   


This easy circular hike close to Jerusalem visits the Tzova Spring and the ruins of the crusader fortress of Belmont on Tel Tzova. 




This territory belonged to the tribe of Judah, and Zobah is mentioned in the book of Samuel as being a village where one of David’s soldiers lived. 

Following an appeal by Pople Urban II, crusades were organized from Europe to prevent the desecration of Christian holy places, and Jerusalem was captured in 1099. Almost all non-Christians in the city were massacred, including the Jews. Over the following decades the Crusaders succeeded in extending their rule over the rest of the country, although they confined themselves to fortified cities and fortresses. Conquered lands were given to noble families and they operated a feudal economic system as in Western Europe. With the opening of transportation routes from Europe, pilgrimages became popular. Jews also came to Israel at this time, and there were groups of Rabbis in Acco and Jerusalem. After almost 200 years of rule, the Crusaders were overthrown by Saladin in 1187.

Before the coming of the Crusaders, the main road from the coast to Jerusalem used to be on what is currently route 443. However, the Crusaders followed an old Roman road between the port of Jaffa and Jerusalem, since this route had more points of religious significance. This incidentally would become the route followed by the current highway 1.

The Crusaders build fortresses overlooking this road in strategic locations, and these functioned as hostels for pilgrims, hospitals and monasteries. The fortress on Tel Tzova above the spring was one of these Crusader fortresses, and was called Belmont. 

Saladin captured this fortress in 1191. However, the destruction you see around dates from 1834 when Egyptians shelled rebellious villagers from Abu Gosh who had taken up positions here. Arabs subsequently took over the ruins for a village. During the War of Independence, Israeli forces captured this village without a struggle when the noise of their otherwise largely ineffective Davidka cannon induced the Arabs to flee. These villagers had previously taken part in the struggle for the Castel that controlled the approach to Jerusalem.

The kibbutz here was founded in 1948 by Palmach veterans close to the deserted Arab village of Tzuva. (There are lots of English variants of the name of this area, including Tsuba, Zubar, Tzuba and Zova. Don't be confused. They are all the same place).   

A non-trivial trivia. Most roads in the Western world going north-south are given odd numbers and those going east-west even numbers. But the road to Jerusalem goes east-west and is called route 1. How did this happen?  Menachem Begin when prime minister decided that the road to Jerusalem could be nothing but route 1! 


Distance: 2¾ Km

Time: 90 minutes

Difficulty: An easy hike mainly on covered roads and smooth dirt trails.  

Starting point: Pass through the kibbutz, follow the sign to the kibbutz hotel (the guest rooms will be on your left), and  continue until you come to a glass factory with a large parking lot adjacent to tennis courts. Park in this lot. 

Directions from Jerusalem: Turn off route 1 at the Mavaseret Zion Moza exit and turn left onto route 3965. Turn onto 395 and follow the signposts to Kibbutz Tzova (Kibbutz Zubar or קיבוץ צובה on Waze).

Public transplant: Buses 158 and 157 from Jerusalem stop at Palmach/Mishlat which is 1.2 miles away and a 25 minute’s walk. 

The hike:

  • For orientation, the asphalt road straight ahead leads directly to the Tel. But for this circular route, walk down the asphalt road on your right when facing the factory and after a very short distance take the first dirt path on your left. You will pass many beautiful orchards. Ignore small turnings off the road and after about 17 minutes of walking (1 Km), you will see a sign to the spring (although the side of the sign is blank from the direction in which you are coming). 
  • Walk down the steps to the spring, passing by a small picnic area with benches and a green lawn. The water in the spring is fine for getting one’s feet wet. [1]
  •  Ascend back to the dirt road and turn right. Shortly you will come to a narrower, rougher dirt path on your left with green markings. Take this path up the hill.
  •  After passing a parking area, turn left and you will soon see an attractive memorial to original members of the kibbutz on your right by the entrance to an orchard. The asphalt road continues to the Crusader castle of Belmont.
  • At the top of the road, climb up some stairs to the tel. At the fork by a signpost to Tel Tzova follow the narrow dirt path on the left marked in blue to an observation area overlooking the kibbutz and the Arab village of Ein Nakaba. Now that you are overlooking route 1, you can appreciate why the castle and tel were built here. Route 1 follows the path of the old crusader road to Jerusalem from the port of Yaffo. The other path on the tel to the right takes you to its other side and provides beautiful views of Jerusalem, the surrounding hills and settlements, and the Castel.  
  • Walk back to the asphalt road. You do not need to use the steps as there is a dirt road on your right to the road. This road will take you back to your car in the parking lot in the kibbutz. 

[1]. In ancient times, this spring would have been dry in summer, and the villagers therefore dug deeper towards the aquifor to have a consistent source of water. They subsequently lined the channel with stones and covered it with arches so that it become a sealed spring. Subsequent repairs were made during the Second Temple Period. The British also needed to repaire a collapsed roof. The outside pool was used for flocks. According to the notice outside, the enclosed part of the spring is open on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer. At other times you can call 02 534 7952 or 054 563 7068. There is an entrance fee to view the inside spring. On a noticeboard outside, there is a detailed explanation of the structure of the spring, mainly in Hebrew. 

Nearby places of interest:

Kiftzuba Adventure Park: This is located just after the kibbutz entrance, on the left as you enter the kibbutz.  It is an amusement park with bumper cars, a “Jungle train,” large inflatables, electric bicycles, playroom, game machines, and café.

Galita Chocolate Factory: This is located just beyond the kibbutz entrance, on the left as you enter the kibbutz and just before the Adventure Park. There is a video on the origins of chocolate, as well as a workshop and store. The chocolate is kosher and chalav nochree. The kids will find this a fun activity working with chocolate molds, chocoloate creams and dressings to make professional looking and great tasting chocolates. The cost depends on what they make, and this might not be the best of places for your family if you are on a tight budget. The Factory is open 10-6 PM but closed on Sunday. Reservations are required – call 02 534 7650.

Tzuba Winery is also in the kibbutz. All wines are kosher mehandrin. The vineyards are cultivated by the kibbutz in an area that was historically a major wine-producing area in Biblical times. Wine testing and guided tours of the winery, vineyards and ancient wine presses can be arranged by calling 02-534 7000.


 Ruins of the crusader fortress of Belmont on Tel Tzuba.


The Tzuba Spring 

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