Many of the beautiful caves and tombs are open for guests to explore, including:
The leader of the Sanhedrin in the third century, Rabbi Judah Hanasi relocated to Bet She’arim. His tomb remains one of the most beautiful.
The Cave of Coffins with its splendid façade
The Cave of Rabbi Judah the Prince
The Lulavim Cave
Interpretive signs make plain the Jewish motifs and Greek inscriptions in the caves. The interiors of the tombs include dramatic lighting that highlights the elaborate carvings on the sarcophagi and on the walls that surround them.
Kidron Valley Tombs
Visitors to Jerusalem can see a number of monuments and tombs in the Kidron Valley.
One monument looks like an upside-down funnel, known as “Absalom’s Pillar,” or “Absalom’s Tomb”—a misnomer associated with 2 Samuel 18:18. However, it represents funerary monument from the time of Jesus.
Further south, another monument with a pyramid-shaped top is called, “Zachariah’s Tomb”; attributed to Saint James, the tomb bears a Hebrew inscription that connects it to the priestly family of Hezir (1 Chronicles 24:15).
Further south, the village of Silwan has the alleged “Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter,” and the Tomb of Shebnah, Hezekiah’s scribe (2 Kings 18:18).
Jerusalem’s large and magnificent “Tomb of the Kings” was actually built for a queen—Helena of Adiabene. The misnomer occurred by those who first excavated it. The ancient writers, Josephus, Pausanias, and Eusebius mention the tomb of Helena.
The entrance to the first-century tomb complex boasts a massive monumental 29-foot-wide staircase that descends to the main courtyard. The stairs drain rainwater into adjacent ritual baths, called mikvot, used for purification after contact with the dead.
The tomb complex is large—a main chamber with eight burial chambers—and features an excellent example of a rolling stone entrance, as well as an arcosolium-type burial place, which is the type of tomb in which Jesus was buried.