6 Weird & Wonderful Places To Visit In Israel

From the gateway to hell to a giant rocking horse, via eating like The King in Tel Aviv… this is weird Israel.

By David Lewis

Entrance to the Twins Cave
Image credit: Wikimedia

THE GATEWAY TO HELL
Jerusalem

A gravelly voiced Chris Rea wailed about the Road to Hell. But for a Gateway to Hell, look no further than the Twins Cave outside of Jerusalem. The 70-foot-long vertical shaft was discovered by archaeologists in 2010 and found littered with clay lamps. As the lanterns seem not to have been burned or used, researchers claim the entrance may have been the site of a bizarre, ancient portal into the underworld. Experts claim pagan rituals were undertaken at this place intended to guide the Greek goddess Demeter into the dark heart of the earth in search of her daughter Persephone.

THE LARGEST ROCKING HORSE IN THE WORLD
Tzoran-Kadima

Any child would be happy to wile away the hours on their rocking toy horse – but it is unlikely that magic can survive into adulthood. Unless that is of course, you’re travelling through the town of Kadima, 35 minutes outside Tel Aviv, where you are presented with the Largest Rocking Horse In The World. The outsized steed, standing at an eye-watering six metres tall and almost eight metres long, was designed and created by local artist Ofer Mor using 300 square metres of wood, 500 litres of paint and no fewer than two telephone poles. 500 children can apparently clamber on the equine giant at any one time – surely making it one of the greatest, if most bizarre, photo opportunities in the entire region.

Elvis American Diner
Image credit: Wikimedia

ELVIS AMERICAN DINER
Abu Ghosh

Whenever the inquisitive tourist burns out visiting some of the holiest shrines on earth  – there’s always a whole new pilgrimage at the Elvis American Diner. The King-themed cafe, sandwiched between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the Arab town of Abu Ghosh, is a Mecca to all things Presley. Part burger-joint, part gift shop, it offers travellers the welcome chance to shun the ubiquitous local hummus and pita for some good ol’ fashioned whopping cheeseburgers and fatboy fries, all served up in a in a painstakingly mocked up 50s setting. Just look out for the massive golden statue of you-know-who above the inn beckoning you inside.

NYMPHAS SHOW BAR
Eilat

One of the most bizarre ways to spend a day in the Holy Land (not so holy here…) is an undersea adventure to the Nymphas Show Bar. This abandoned former club was built several feet below the waves off the coast of the southern city of Eilat and was accessible via bridge and stairs meaning party folk and dancers didn’t have to get wet. Although the chairs and tables have been removed, if you scuba in the surrounding clear waters, you can still peer in to glimpse the floor-to-ceiling dancing poles.

Mini Israel
Image credit: Wikimedia

MINI ISRAEL
Latrun

Ever fancied channelling the spirit of Gulliver in The Land of Lilliput to the Holy Land? At Mini Israel – it’s doable. This bizarre complex features 385 replica models of some of Israel’s most important religious, historical and archeological sites; all created at a scale of 1:25. You really can feel like God as you peer down at the (moving) worshippers at the Western Wall, old Jaffa and modern Tel Aviv. Newly arrived adventurers might want to use the place as a sort of giant roadmap for the trip they are about to take around the country.

AARRONSOHN HOUSE
Zichron Ya’akov

For those who like their spy stories told clutching a glass of fruity pinot noir, you could do worse than visit the seemingly sleepy town of Zichron Ya’akov located an hour from Tel Aviv. This is Israel’s wine country – nearby Carmel is the country’s largest vineyard. But scratch the surface and there’s a far murkier world of espionage here. Before the Jewish state was created, the area was awash with snoopers. A local botanist Aaron Aaronsohn founded NILI, a Jewish and pro-British spy ring during the First World War from here and his former private abode Aarronsohn House, is now a museum containing films and photographs.