The Historical Courtyard & a Magnificent View
The Gordonia Hotel at Ma’ale Hahamisha stands at the center of the Jerusalem Hills. The verdant landscape, clear air, pine trees and long rows of grape vines are your invitation to get out in nature, and hike.
The first offering is a short route departing from the hotel. The great surprise is that even
with such a short itinerary, just a few hundred meters in length, the expansive vistas, local
history, an unsung architectural gem and our deep roots in Israel come into plain view.
Exit the hotel, turn right, and right again in 50 meters, onto a paved, slightly
inclined path surrounding the Yearim Hotel building on the left. The path leads to the hotel’s
backyard, where you are in for a few surprises. Pfefferman House, resembling a rounded
off crescent, is the first. Designed in the 1940s as a sanitarium for workers of the Israeli
Phosphate Corporation located by the Dead Sea, the building was not completed until
Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, when it was used as a base for many of the wartime
activities of Harel Brigade fighters belonging to pre-State Israel’s Palmach forces. (Palmach
is an acronym standing for “Plugoth Mahatz,” Hebrew for “Striking Force”). A sign at the site
nowadays reads: “Nobo House – Sanitorium for Phosphate Company Workers.”
This beautiful two-storey structure was renovated in1955 to serve as a sanitarium. Since
then, the rooms in Pfefferman House, now a wing of the Yearim Hotel, were renovated a
number of times. KKL, the Jewish National Fund, has erected a map depicting settlements
in the region in 1948 and the battles that took place there, alongside a 70-year-old military
outpost and a sign next to it that describes the magnificent local heritage of the defenders
of Israel then.
Kibbutz Ma’ale Hahamisha served as a base for the Harel Brigade’s Portzim Division. Yitzhak
Rabin who was 24 years old at the time (and who served as Israel’s Prime Minister before
being assassinated in 1995), commanded the Harel Brigade, tasked with defending the road
to Jerusalem, and Rabin’s command post was headquartered at Ma’ale Hahamisha when
Israel declared its independence.
We’ll bypass the old military outpost to the command post’s right and descend a bit, to a
lovely observation balcony with eastern and southern views. You can choose to return to the
hotel from this point, or continue onto the second route – within Kibbutz Ma’ale Hahamisha.
Duration: About half an hour.
Distance: About 300 meters.
Degree of Difficulty: Very easy.