The Tombs of the Maccabees are located west of Jerusalem, in a region where history is literally carved in the landscape.
A sign directs visitors to the rock-cut tombs, north of road 443 in the Ben-Shemen Forest. They are near the modern city of Modi’in, named after the village, believed to have been close by, where Mattathias first rebelled against the Greek overlords.
Road 443 is a highway now, but still strategically links the Judean Mountains and the coast; only a stone’s throw from here Mattathias’ son Judah the Maccabee and his brothers clashed with their oppressors.
Ancient cave-tombs riddle the area, but the Maccabee-country location of this cluster of limestone tombs, which appears to be that of one family, and their old Arabic name – “tombs of the Jews”– persuade many that the Maccabees were buried here. Hanukkah ceremonies honoring the ancient warriors have been held here for the past century.