Today I decided to explore my nearby surroundings. I might not live in the city center, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see here. So I called a friend and suggested we go visit the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University. “Someone told me there’s a botanical gardens or something like that there,” I explained to my friend, who didn’t understand why I want to visit the University before the student year begins.
Mount Scopus (“Har Hatzofim” in Hebrew) is a very peaceful area. I passed by a huge cemetery called the Jerusalem British War Cemetery and the gate to Hadassah Har Hatzofim, one of the most well-known hospitals in Israel, which sits right next to the cemetery. Then I passed by an Aroma branch and, at the end of the road, got to the main gate of the University.
At the gate, I was asked for an ID, and after passing the security check, I was in. My friend, it turned out, got inside the University via the bus and ended up at the other end of the campus. I entered the Botanical Garden via a set of stone stairs at the left side of the gate, but when he told me that he wasn’t there, I exited and tried entering the garden from another entrance.
The second entrance was a beautiful one. It was an underground passage, with water flowing on both sides, leading to a circular plaza of ferns. It was “The Fern Plaza”. Luckily, at the entrance was a numbered map of the garden, so my friend and I decided to meet at area number 7.
I started making my way to area number 7, or more precisely, I started wandering around, hoping that we’ll stumble upon each other. I stopped to read the signs (which are also written in English) and found many interesting pieces of information about the plants, the garden, and so on. The truth is that I wasn’t really impressed by the plants. The ferns were the most interesting plants in the garden, in my opinion. But maybe it’s not the season. Maybe after the rain, the plants will look more alive.
The Botanical Garden of Mount Scopus Campus is a free-entry garden planted in 1931 around the site of the Nicanor tomb. The garden, which was designed by Professor Alexander Eig, focuses on the local flora of Israel and its neighbors. It’s a great place to learn about the local flora if you’re interested in botany. It’s also a great place for relaxing. There are many shaded sitting spots, and it feels like you’re sitting in a small forest.
And back to my story – my friend and I eventually didn’t find each other at area number 7. We found each other much sooner, at area A, the Nicanor Tomb. This was the most impressive part of the garden, in my opinion. You can enter the different tomb areas and read about the place. The burial complex is called “Nicanor” because of one of the ossuaries found here. Unlike other ossuaries, this one had an inscription on it, bearing the name of Nicanor. The burial complex was discovered in 1902 and identified as Jewish burial caves from the Second Temple period.
Opening hours: The garden is open Sundays to Thursdays between 8 AM to 5 PM and Fridays between 8 AM to 1 PM.
How long should you visit? Half an hour to 1.5 hours should be enough.
How to get there? You can take bus lines 30, 26, 23, 68, 46, 19 or 4a to the Mount Scopus Campus.
Remember that you need an ID to enter.
For more info – check out the official site of The Mount Scopus Botanical Garden.
Wondering what there is to do in Jerusalem?
Jerusalem has plenty of attractions that can easily fill up three days and even more! To learn more about things you can do in Jerusalem – read my full travel guide for backpackers in Jerusalem.
So do I recommend visiting the Hebrew University Botanical Gardens on Mount Scopus? If you’re in the area, then why not. It’s free, and it’s nice. I especially recommend it to people interested in the botany of Israel and those who appreciate quietness. If you’re not in the area or don’t have much time, you can pass.
Think this post is useful or helpful? Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment 🙂
Also, check out my Facebook page, Backpack Israel.