Urban Exploration, or UrbEx, is defined (in Wikipedia) as “the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.” Well today I had the opportunity to join the ranks of photographers and adventure hungry people that partake in such an odd hobby. And it was amazing.
Last night my friend Talia and I were discussing how we really needed to go on a photo-hunt sometime soon, and I had heard of a place named Lifta that was supposed to be easy to get to and amazing to explore. So we were thinking about skipping our Sunday afternoon class at some point in the next few weeks to head out for a few hours… Lo and behold, this morning our Rosh Yeshiva came in and told us that our afternoon teacher was not feeling well (refuah shleimah) and that we wouldn’t be having class at all between 1:30pm and 7:30pm… In Judaism we call that Hashgacha Pratis, or Divine Providence. Perfect 🙂
Right after classes and a quick lunch, Talia and I caught the bus to Tachana Merkazit (the central bus station). From there we walked across the street, behind a sketchy gas station and down a dirt path until we got to a spiral bridge that led to another dirt path… Within 10 minutes we had reached the edge of Lifta, an abandoned Arab settlement that was evacuated during the 1948 War for Independence. With the exception of some hippy-ish squatters that have settled into a few of the buildings that are more intact, the entire town remains in a state of ruin, untouched since the war. There are about a hundred stone houses and buildings that are scattered across the mountain side. Some are easy to reach and some take a little more creativity, but as a whole it was a great first exploration trip. It had a little bit of everything… crazy people, buildings with the floors blown clear out by rockets, houses filled with trash from the local squatters, a mikvah, water tunnels, stone paths overgrown by nature; you name it, it was there somewhere.
Talia and I explored for a few hours until it started to get dark and our reason got the best of us. Although we saw a lot of the area, we will definitely be taking another trip in the coming weeks. And next time we’ll have better flashlights so we can see where those tunnels really lead to… Until then, here are some photos of our trip: