Latrun is named for the Fortress of Latrun, which is a Crusader fortress built on the site which was believed to have been called “Le toron des chevaliers” or The Castle of the Knights.
This area is filled with history.
In the 13th century BCE, the army of Joshua son of Nun defeated the five Amorite kings in the area of Beit Horon.
Then later, in 165 BCE, the army of Yehudah The Maccabee defeated the Greeks in the area of Emmaus Nicopolis, and is considered one of his most successful battles.
During the Crusades, many battles were fought in the area between the invading Crusaders and Muslims who had conquered the land some centuries earlier.
Templars built a fortress in order to secure secure the roads leading to Jerusalem.
Most of the fortress was completely destroyed by the armies of Saladin and abandoned in 1187.
During World War II, the British who were were in control of the land, set up a large detention camp in Latrun.
Among the thousands that had been held there over the years it was in operation were detainees of the Jewish underground.
Among the notable events in the detention camp were the escape of 20 Lehi detainees, the exile of 251 Irgun and Lehi detainees to Africa, and the incarceration of the Jewish leaders on Black Saturday.
In February 1948, the remaining Jewish detainees were evacuated from the camp and transferred to the Atlit detention camp.
What to See
Yad LaShiryon is a museum and memorial site of the Israeli Armored Corps was established in Latrun.
The museum tells the history of the of armor division and is home to one of the worlds largest collections of tanks and armored combat vehicles.
The Latrun Police is also exhibited in the museum and has a plaque with the names of the corps’ fallen.
Armor Design Park
The Armor Design Park established by the Jewish National Fund and the Armored Corps and includes dozens of commemorative monuments to the armored units.
Mini Israel is a miniature park which features about 385 scaled-down models of important sites and buildings in Israel.
These are the fascinating remains of the Medieval Crusader fortress destroyed by Saladin.
Emmaus Nicopolis was originally a large Jewish community called “Hamat,” after its hot healing springs.
It serve as the capital of one of the districts of Judea and is often mentioned in religious writings.
However, the Greeks or Samaritans distorted its name and called it Emmaus which is in the Book of Maccabees I in the description of the Battle of Emmaus.
According to Josephus, there was a small Jewish town there during the second temple period.
However, after Herod ‘s death in 4 BCE it became the center of the revolt led by Athronges and was burned to the ground by the Roman general Publius Quinctilius Varos.
In 220 CE the settlement of Nicopolis was rebuilt by the emperor Alagbalus, and Christians lived there alongside Jews, pagans, and Samaritans.
The city was conquered by the Muslims in 638 CE and in 639 the plague of Emmaus broke out, claiming 25,000 lives of the invading army and led to the abandonment of the city.