By JONAH MANDEL
A festive ceremony on Tuesday overlooking Wadi Kelt marked the completion of five months of work on the access road to the Monastery of St.George, facilitating easy and convenient access to the Christian holy site.
The NIS 2 million infrastructure work, which included a drainage system and safety rails, was jointly funded by the Tourism Ministry, the National Roads Company and the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria, in response to a request by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III to improve pilgrim and tourist access to the site.
For the last three years, access was extremely difficult due to water erosion from flash floods and damage caused by a small earthquake.
The fifth-century monastery is one of the oldest in the country and one of six active monasteries in the Judean Desert.
Participating in Tuesday’s ceremony were Archbishop Aristarchos, one of the heads of the Greek Orthodox Church in Israel; Tourism Ministry Director-General Noaz Bar-Nir; civil administration deputy head Col. Raed Mantzur; and National Roads Company CEO Alex Viznitzer.
Bar-Nir stressed that his ministry “is working to make tourist sites in Israel accessible and thereby expand the variety of the tourism product both for Israeli visitors and for tourists and pilgrims. The stunning monastery combines ancient history, spectacular landscape, religion and welcoming monks that make this a must-see site.”