On the way up from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, among turns and bends of the hilly scenery, lies the village of Abu Gosh. It is an Arab village built on a mountainside. Looking up from its lowest point, you will see a charming and picturesque village.
The village of Abu Gosh was first settled over 6,000 years ago. In the biblical period, it was known as Kiryat Ye'arim, and was a ceremonial center where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. In the Byzantine era (some 1,500 years ago), Kiryat Ye’arim became a holy place and a church was built in the village. During the Crusader Period (about 1,000 years ago), the village was ascribed as the place where Jesus revealed himself after his resurrection – that is, Emmaus – and the Benedictine Monastery was built. The monastery is one of the most beautiful buildings preserved from the Crusader Period, and can still be visited. It is located in the heart of a well-tended garden with ancient trees. Impressive frescoes are painted on the inner walls, and a fountain flows from the crypt at the base of the monastery.
The Church of Notre Dame de l’Arche d’Alliance (Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant) is located at the highest point in the village, facing the impressive scenery of the Jerusalem Hills. This church was built in 1924 on the remains of an ancient Byzantine church. A large statue of the Virgin Mary was placed in the courtyard of the church, and is visible from every direction in the complex. Nuns live in the church, which also has several guest rooms.
The present village was built in the Ottoman period by the Abu Gosh family, whose descendents represent the majority of the residents of the place (some 5,500 people).
Twice a year – on Shavuot (the Festival of the First Fruits) and on Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) – both churches hold festivals for vocal music, which are attended by groups and choirs from round the world, and the place teems with people.
But in Israel, Abu Gosh is synonymous with hummus. And not the simple hummus you get in the city, but a wonderful, delightful mixture served in a variety of ways and with spicy garnishing. In fact, in recent years Abu Gosh has turned into the country’s “hummus center.” In addition to the “authentic” Abu Shukri restaurant and to the “original” Abu Shukri restaurant, there are many other restaurants throughout the village, focused around hummus and authentic Arabic food. Besides tasty and even cheap food, Abu Gosh offers additional tourist attractions.
The village has a few guesthouses, colorful shops selling glass products, a candle shop, and, of course, places to buy Baklava and different types of sweet foods. Near the village there are several sites worth visiting, such as the Ein Khemed National Park, Har ha-Ru’akh (literally, the Mountain of the Wind), and more.