Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert, also called the "Capital of the Negev". This is Israel's national chess center, thanks to the Soviet immigrants. It is also in close proximity to the Ben Gurion University, as well. It was underestimated as a site to visit for quite a while, but that is changing as more people each year recognize the beauty and relevance of this unique and historical city, but also the major role it played both in the Biblical period and in the contemporary growth and development of the area.
Landmarks in the city include Abraham's Well, a number of remnants of the Ottoman period, important museums and monuments, and you are guaranteed an enjoyable art experience as well.
Beersheba is the home of exceptional museums:
Your first stop is the main art museum in southern Israel, situated in the former official residence of the Ottoman governor. This beautiful building was erected in 1906 within a majestic complex that included the Seraya and a mosque, and after the State of Israel was established, the government decided to make it Beersheba’s first City Hall. A new visitor center was added in 2009, while today, the museum includes a number of temporary exhibitions, collections by local, regional and international artists, workshops for children and youth, as well as entertaining summer performances.
Next stop is a phenomenal edifice with a beautiful courtyard, which houses a must-visit museum. The former home of the Archaeological Museum, this building now gives you an insight into historical and modern works of material Islamic culture. Among many wonderful temporary exhibitions relating to Israel and Near Eastern culture, there is also a permanent exhibit of archeological findings from the Islamic Periods in Israel.
It’s a home of unique monuments:
Thanks to the donations by the Negev’s Bedouin residents, in 1906 the Great Mosque of Beersheba was built. It’s considered to be an Islamic architectural masterpiece, decorated with marble columns and Andalusian doors and windows, and surrounded with greenery. It was an active mosque until Israeli forces entered the city in 1948, after which it served as the courthouse until 1953, then an archeological museum until the 1990s. In 2011, the Great Mosque became the Museum of Islamic and Orient Civilizations.
West of the Old City, you’ll find a historic railway station, opened in 1915 during the Ottoman rule in Palestine. The complex included a station building, a water tower, a maintenance depot, and the Station master’s house. This National Historic Site was renovated in 2013 and it became a heritage museum where you can see a TCDD 45151 Class steam locomotive acquired in 2012. East of the station, a monument in memory of the 298 Turkish soldiers who died in the Battle of Beersheba in 1917 was raised in 2002, with a commemorative plaque at its base.
It’s a home of special sites:
There are quite a few special places you ought to visit while in this charming city, and one of them is this heritage site that presents to its visitors the story of Abraham, his life, and the well, through audio-visual and 3D presentations. This is the site where, as the followers of all three monotheistic religions believe, Abraham dug the famous well, and gave this city its name by which we call it to this very day.
Proceed to the memorial that was built in 1968, on the top of a mountain north of the city, in honor of the Palmach Negev Brigade members who died in the War of Independence. The monument was designed by sculptor Dani Karavan and comprises eighteen concrete objects that speak of the war and the Palmach. You’ll also get to experience a wonderful sight of the city, Mount Hebron, and Mount Negev.
It’s a home of the arts:
Welcome to a wonderful Ottoman-period building, home to the institution for art education, with its own charming garden – an Arab-style courtyard and a site of great art. Wherever you look along its walls, you will see one-of a kind pieces of art created from all kinds of materials. The center also hosts a variety of events every year, and it holds classes and workshops for visitors of all ages.
Next, visit the Old City and the building from the British mandate that displays the brilliant works created by the "Association for Negev Artists", such as paintings, sculptures, embroidery, and much more, all of which you can purchase as well. There is also a remarkable, artistic garden for you to enjoy.
Finally, visit this amazing place that works on preserving the unique and fascinating heritage of the Ethiopian Jewish community. Female artists within the Ethiopian Arts Workshop produce all sorts of marvelous crafts and pieces of art, which you can also purchase.
Topics: World Travel