Where to go Guide
Just south of Bethlehem, near Solomon’s Pools, lies the Artas Village or Urtas. The name Artas originates from hortus, the Latin for “garden" because it is believed to be the site of the hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) referred to in Solomon’s Canticles or Song of Songs: “Thou art like a garden enclosed, my sister, my spouse, like a sealed fountain. Thy plantations are a paradise of delights." (Song of Songs, 4:12) Because of its proximity to Jerusalem and because of its scenery and its historical allusiveness, Europeans in the 19th century adopted Artas as a summer retreat. The Europeans in fact were the ones who introduced or re-introduced horticulture to the valley. In 1894, the Italian Order of the Sisters of Mary of the Garden built the Hortus Conclusus Convent in Artas.