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Contributed by Artas Folklore Center on 10.04.2012:

This year marks the 40th anniversary of organized hiking in the Artas Valley. Thanks to Musa Sanad, (1949-2005) future founder of the Artas Folklore Center, thousands of visitors used to walk the touristic trail in Artas before 1987, when tourism was ended by the events of the first Intifada. Musa Sanad developed two basic itineraries, one from Solomon’s Pools to the village of Artas, and another from Artas village to Herodium, to which it is linked by the Solomon’s Pools. Often, the two hikes were combined to allow visitors to appreciate Artas as a meeting place of ecosystems. The visitors would start in the lush, green Artas Valley and end up in an arid desert landscape.In 1994, a year after its establishment, the Artas Folklore Center, in coordination with tourist agencies as well as Palestinian and foreign institutions, began its endeavor to revive the trail making it a traditional component of the Artas Lettuce Festival which was inaugurated that year. Taking advantage of the increased interest in hiking and rural and cultural tourism, particularly the inclusion in Walking Palestine, a wonderful new book by Stefan Szepesi, the Artas Center currently seeks to build on the work of the last several years to formalize “The Folklore Trail” – the hike between Solomon’s Pools and the village, focusing on what is unique, highlighting the associations with Solomon, a figure found in the traditions of the three monotheistic religions in general and in the village heritage in particular. This year the Artas Folklore Center will experiment with a new formula for the Artas Lettuce Festival, with a “moving festival” along this trail to generate interest in and find partners and funders for the development of “The Folklore Trail,” with Solomon as its mascot in all its aspects.

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Setting off on a Nature Walk

Armed with binoculars, these participants in the Nature Hike led by the Palestine Wildlife Society during the 2006 Annual Artas Lettuce Festival found plenty of interesting things to see along the way. Members of the Artas Folklore Center captured their imaginations by recounting the proverbs and stories associated with the flora and fauna they saw. This is an example of the type of cooperation between institutions that the Artas Folklore Center seeks to promote.

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