The Soreq Cave
The Soreq Cave is a beautiful geological phenomenon with stalactite formations. It is the only stalactite cave in Israel, and it is known for its high concentration of formations. The cave is located on the western slopes of the Judean Hills—about 12 miles west of Jerusalem.
The Soreq Cave has multiple names. It is called the Soreq Cave because it is located near Nahal Soreq, which is a long, important valley/stream that runs east-west from Jerusalem to the Mediterranean Sea. This is the most common name for the cave.
Another name for the cave is the Avshalom Cave—the Hebrew pronunciation of Absalom. The cave was dedicated to the remembrance of Avshalom Shoham. He was an Israeli soldier who passed away on February 4, 1974, after he was severely injured in the War of Attrition (1967-1970). Avshalom loved the land of Israel, and his family helped the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to prepare the cave for public visits.
The Soreq Cave was discovered by accident. In May 1968, on a day like every other day, a blast from the nearby quarry revealed an opening in the hillside, which led to the discovery of the Soreq Cave.
The cave was kept a secret for years after it was found. The discoverers were afraid the beautiful formations would be damaged by the public. On March 16, 1975, seven years after it was discovered, the cave was declared a nature reserve and opened to the public. Today, there are guided tours on paved walkways, available throughout the day at a minimal cost.
The Soreq Cave has numerous rock structures that are formed by water sedimentation through cracks in the ceiling of the cave. Here is a list of the different types found in the cave using their informal names:
“Macaroni” Stalactite – These rock formations are long, hollow, and skinny. They are formed by calcite rings left by water drops that slowly drip from the same spot on the ceiling. These formations are delicate and can break easily. They usually grow to be about a meter in length before breaking.
“Carrot” Stalactite – This type of stalactite forms when a macaroni stalactite gets clogged on the inside. The clog stops the water drops from dripping through the narrow tube, and causes it to flow on the outside. This changes the shape of the stalactite into a cone/carrot shape. These formations vary in size.
Stalagmite – If a drop of water is falling off a stalactite faster than calcite can form, it drips off and forms a stalagmite on the ground below it. These formations grow upward, as opposed to the stalactites that grow from the ceiling down.
Column – A column is formed when a stalactite and stalagmite touch. Some columns are thick and others are thin; it all depends on when the original stalactite and stalagmite united. There are multiple locations throughout the cave where a stalactite and stalagmite are millimeters away from uniting.
Each rock formation has its own unique shape. As you walk through the Soreq Cave, use your imagination to see what the rocks look like. You can find anything from a Mexican hat to Cinderella!