In general, Be’er-Sheva blossoms anew every Fall and Spring after the rains (though we always pray for more rain than we usually get here in the desert). Many of the main streets and boulevards are tree-lined and more shade trees are being planted with each passing year. Each neighborhood has its own public park, some larger, some smaller, most with grass, benches, shade trees and a children’s playground equipment, and there are also a few groves of shade trees, such as in Ne’ot Lon.
In 2019 (following the example set in 2015 by “Earth’s Promise” behind the Kalisher Absorption Center in Gimel), typically barefoot Nilo Peleg (b.1984-) and a group of fellow eco-activists planted the second urban ‘food forest‘ within the Be’er-Sheva city limits, located at one edge of the newly renovated Sofrim Park in Bet neighborhood. Such planned, man-made forest gardening provides sustainable eco-agriculture while restoring natural local habitats and ecosystems.
The city’s academic campuses are beautifully landscaped and have well-kept gardens, where it’s pleasant to sit or walk about. Some special walking and biking paths already exist, that span the city’s width and height, and more are being developed. Be’er-Sheva also has a 42-kilometer green path, the “Be’er-Sheva Ring Trail,” for hiking and learning about local nature & history; guided tours are available via the local Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). Every year come Spring (in March) the city holds an “Urban Nature Week,” full of free outdoor events, nature tours, bird-watching, etc.
The first public park in 20th century Be’er-Sheva
Allenby Park, located in the center of the Old City, was one of the first public parks in Israel, originally created by the Ottoman-Turks in 1902 following a round, axial French-garden design. Later on, after the British conquest of the Holy Land under the command of Field Marshall, Lord Edmund Henry Allenby (1861-1936), this park was named in British Imperial Governor Allenby‘s honor. His bust was commissioned and sculpted by Abraham Melnikov and situated at the hub of the park, atop a high pedestal, but was later damaged during the Arab rebellion of 1938. With the restoration of the park in 2015, the damaged bust was replaced by another sculpted by Etienne Millner, situated on a lower, broader column. In his diary, Allenby wrote: “Beersheba is a lovely place, in which it’s pleasant to be.”
The first public park in Israeli Be’er-Sheva
“Gan ha-Rishonim” (lit., the park of the first ones) is located in the Aleph neighborhood along Rager Boulevard, facing the Rassco Commercial Center.
Landscapped urban-desert parks near seasonal watercourses
Yud-Aleph Park is a lovely example of successful urban-desert landscaping, pleasant by day and night. It’s a park running along both sides of the Nahal Olim seasonal watercourse for several kilometers (in sections interrupted by roads) with paved walks, shade trees, benches, playground areas, several different kinds of bridges, and night lighting. It’s enclosed by gardened stone terraces. The local lizards often sun themselves in the mornings on the dry, rocky riverbed and it’s a haven for many types of birds. It’s also a favorite spot of mothers with baby-carriages and preschool children – in the warm mornings, of senior citizens towards sunset – in the cooler evening air, and of young couples – for romantic strolls at night.
The Be’er-Sheva River Park stands alongside Nahal Be’er-Sheva (the Be’er-Sheva seasonal watercourse) covering a distance of ca.8 km (=5 miles). It already has 3.25 km (=2 mile) promenade and bike paths that also cross the watercourse on the unique Pipes Bridge (opened 2011); a free public park – Bell Park; a large outdoor amphitheater that can seat ca.12,000 and has a special ‘Light-Sail’ that produces spectacular light shows at night; a children’s playground, and the Beit Eshel (1943-1948) pre-Israel independence historic site. Soon, it will also have a sizable ca.81-dunam (= 20-acre) man-made lake with water-sports facilities, surrounded by restaurants, cafes, picnic grounds, a bird sanctuary. Finally, 2 Chalcolithic archaeological sites will be developed for public viewing, one at each end of the park.
In March 2021, the City of Be’er-Sheva opened public access to Israel’s largest, man-made lake, covering ca. 5,261 sqm (1,300 acres), at the center of the Negev Desert, filled with recycled sewage and runoff rainwater. This lake site serves as a bird sanctuary and birding observatory, as well as a place offering light boating. Developed by the Be’er-Sheva Municipality and sponsored by the JNF.
Several examples of children’s themed playgrounds/parks
Opened in August 2020, the Ramot Children’s Play-Park is among the largest (60 dunams = almost 15 acres) in Be’er-Sheva, located on Avigdor Avital Way. It includes something for children of all ages, physical abilities and disabilities, even some extreme sport facilities, most of them well shaded, like the sitting areas.
The commemorative Ilan Ramon Rocket Park is located on Yehudah ha-Levi Street in the Daled neighborhood. It’s dedicated to the memory of Israel’s first astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon (1954-2003), who grew up in Be’er-Sheva. He was one of the pilots who flew the mission that successfully bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. He perished in the Columbia space shuttle disaster that occurred during the attempted re-entry to the Earth‘s atmosphere on February 1st, 2003.
The free public Children’s World (opened in 2017) adjacent to the “Lunada” Interactive Science Museum, has a nautical theme and is located between the Neveh Menahem and Nahal Ashan neighborhoods, at 35 Egoz St. It’s a very large (60 dunams = ca.50 acres) area, at the center of which there is a small artificial lake (5,500 sq. m. = ca.59,200 sq. ft.) with a big pirate ship, ducks and aquarium fish. The park also includes a waterfall, a cable slide, walking & biking paths, benches, a kiosk, and other activities.
Marmalade Park, just past the North/University Train Station entrance, is great for bikes, roller-skates, skateboards, kiddy-cars, etc., and has a small ecological pond with goldfish and lily-pads. It also has a mini-basketball court.
Other theme parks
The Hadassah Women & JNF Ceramics Park, located just off Rager Boulevard at the northern edge of the city, was planned by Israeli landscape architect Zvi Dekel for the First International Biennale of Ceramics held in Be’er-Sheva in 1995. This park displays artist Israel Hadany‘s ceramic creation, a large outdoor installation, entitled: “Oasis environmental sculpture.”
The Park of the Australian Soldier (opened 2008) is located at the corner of Sha’ul ha-Melekh and Abba Ahime’ir streets in Yud Aleph. It tells the full story of the liberation of Be’er-Sheva from the Ottoman-Turkish Empire during WWI by the horse-ridden British Commonwealth & ANZAC forces on October 31, 1917, featuring a marvelous life-like bronze statue of a soldier in the “Lighthorse” Regiment charging the city. This park also has playground equipment that is especially suited to use by disabled children. Annual, international commemorative ceremonies are held in this park with the participation of dignitaries from Israel, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere.
Parks and groves OKed for barbeques
Bell Park; Ne’ot Lon Grove; and soon the River Park area near the man-made lake.
Thus far, there are special dog parks in the following neighborhoods: Aleph, Bet, Daled, Hey, Tet, Yud-Aleph and Ne’ot Lon. These a places where the dogs may be loosed to run around freely and do their ‘business’. The municipal regulations that apply to the dog owners are clearly posted at the entrances.