Sataf National Park – הסטף
Sataf is a serene place on the terraced slopes, where ancient mountainous agriculture is practiced as it was by the Israelites thousands of years ago. The 250-acre (1000 dunam) site is maintained by the Jewish National Fund, as a reconstruction of ancient agricultural methods especially terraces and channel-irrigated agricultural plots.
The springs here were not plentiful, so the existing water supply had to maximized. This was achieved by tunneling into the water-bearing strata. An ingenious system of channels (parts of which are clearly visible) conducted the water that was stored in large pools to the terraced plots.
The word `terrace’ is derived from the Latin word ‘terra’ for ‘land’.The agricultural terraces were constructed by a process described in the Bible as clearing the rocks, izuk, and transferring them to the edge of the natural terraces, sikul.The stones that were cleared provided the necessary support for the terrace walls into which new soil was placed.
Watch towers were built to guard the crops as described in the Parable of the Vineyard, “My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watching place in the midst of it, and hewed out a vineyard in it.” (Isaiah ). The Sataf includes a ‘prototype’ vineyard such as the one described in the parable; the vineyard includes 26 ancient types of vine that were known to have grown in Eretz Israel.
There are in total, five hiking trails at Sataf which work in unison to provide visitors with various options or a circular walk starting from the main entrance and car park.
For a circular walk, head out on the blue trail passing through olive groves, past the well, and a cave that was once inhabited. You will see the excavations of a Chalcolithic site which has the oldest traces of agriculture in the region, and the plots which are being used today to grow organic vegetables and herbs. As you continue along the hillside you will pass an ancient olive press and enter a pomegranate orchard, eventually reaching Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura, which are ruins of ancient and more modern settlements here.
Sataf was an Arab village in the District of Jerusalem depopulated during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. There are traces of Chalcolithic and Byzantine culture at the site.
The Sataf site is situated to the east of Har Eitan, 10 km west of Jerusalem, where a green slope tumbles down to Nahal Soreq (“Wadi al-Sarar”) on the east. The two springs that emerge from the site water the agricultural terraces that serve as a reminder of an almost vanished Hebrew culture dating back thousands of years. Here, as in the days of the ancient Israelites, irrigated vegetable gardens grow alongside vineyards, olive groves and almond orchards that need no artificial irrigation and color the countryside green all year round.
Both the Jerusalem Trail and the Israel Trail cross the Sataf National Park.
Sataf is free to enter and open during daylight hours.