Eilat and the Negev Sights

Ben-Gurion's Desert Home

  • Off Rte. 40 Map It
  • Sde Boker
  • Memorial/Monument/Tomb

Published 03/07/2016

Fodor's Review

Thousands of people make their way to this pilgrimage site every year. David Ben-Gurion (1886–1973), Israel's first prime minister, was one of the 20th century's great statesmen. He regarded the Negev as Israel's frontier and hoped that tens of thousands would settle there. When Ben-Gurion resigned from government in 1953 (later to return), he and his wife, Paula, moved to Kibbutz Sde Boker to provide an example for others. "Neither money nor propaganda builds a country," he announced. "Only the man who lives and creates in the country can build it." And so, the George Washington of Israel took up his new role in the kibbutz sheepfold. In February 1955, he became prime minister once more, but he returned here to live when he retired in 1963.

Set amid the waving eucalyptus trees is Paula and David Ben-Gurion's simple dwelling, a testament to their typically Israeli brand of modesty and frugality. Ben-Gurion's small Negev home is commonly known as "the hut," owing to its humble

appearance. It's a one-story wooden home with a small kitchen, an eating corner with a table and two chairs, and simple furniture throughout. Visitors such as United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld drank tea with Ben-Gurion in the modest living room. Ben-Gurion's library shelves contain 5,000 books (there are 20,000 more in his Tel Aviv home, on Ben Gurion Boulevard). His bedroom, with its single picture of Mahatma Gandhi, holds the iron cot on which he slept (often only three hours a night) and his slippers on the floor beside it. The house is exactly as he left it.

Next door, in three adjacent painted-wood building, are new exhibitions with original documents whose themes are the story of Ben-Gurion's extraordinary life in Sde Boker, his youth, leadership, and army service, and the leader's vision for the Negev. A film showing the footage of kibbutz members actually voting on his acceptance into their community is shown in the visitor center; the shop here sells gifts, jewelry, and books about the "Old Man," as he was known locally.

Ben-Gurion's Grave. The revered prime minister's grave, just 2 miles south of his desert home, is often visited at the same time. Walk through the beautiful garden until you reach the quiet, windswept plaza; in the center are the simple raised stone slabs marking the graves of David and Paula Ben-Gurion (she died five years before her husband). The couple's final resting place commands a view of Zin Valley's geological finery: a vast, undulating drape of stone that changes hue as the daylight shifts. The cluster of greenery and palm trees to the right on the valley floor marks Ein Avdat (Avdat Spring). Off Rte. 40, 84993. 08/655–5684. Free. Daily.

Read More

Sight Information

Address:

Off Rte. 40, Sde Boker, Southern District, 84993, Israel

Map It

Phone:

08-656–0469

Website: www.bgh.org.il

Sight Details:

  • NIS 18
  • Sun.–Thurs. 8:30–4, Fri. and Jewish holiday eves 8:30–2; last admission 1 hr before closing

Published 03/07/2016

Advertisement

Map View

Map of



What's Nearby

  • Sights
  • Hotels

Add Your Own Review

When did you go?

Minimum 200 character count

How many stars would you give?

Experience

Ease

Value

Don't Miss

No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE email communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.