A short account of Soreq Cave, given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide
Near the city of Beit Shemesh, in the area between the Judean Hills and mountains, you can find one of the most amazing creations of nature – the Soreq Stalactite Cave, also known as the Avshalom Cave. It is not one of the biggest caves – only 91 meters (300 ft) long – but no doubt it is one of the richest ever found.
A bit about the cave
The cave was discovered accidentally in 1968 by the workers of the Beit Shemesh quarries, who were detonating rocks for the gravel and cement industries. A hole that opened in one of the rocks attracted the attention of the engineer, who crawled in and experienced what he discovered as “a feeling of genesis, an out-of-this world feeling of a place where nobody ever stepped.” The authorities were called in and it was decided to seal the cave and keep it a secret. During the following years, intensive work was done to turn the cave into to a tourist attraction, without damaging it.
Nature takes millions of years to create a masterpiece like this one. It is a very slow process, in which rainwater seeps through the ground and soaks acidity from it, dissolving the limestone rock as it flows through it. When the water gets to the cave ceiling, it does one of two things: 1. It drops down on the floor, evaporates and leaves some lime sediment. This sediment slowly builds up to create beautiful columns named stalagmites. 2. The drop of water can stay on the ceiling, evaporate and leave the sediment on the ceiling. Slowly, the sediment builds downward and creates hanging stalactites. Both stalactites and stalagmites appear in different shapes, forms and colors and create an enormously rich scene.
To remain active, the cave must retain conditions of constant humidity (close to 100%) and constant temperature (22-23 degrees C, 72-74 degrees F). A sophisticated climate control system maintains these conditions, along with a new system of LED lighting, which gives the cave a very special look and prevents the warming of the air.