A 42 kilometer hiking trail around Beersheva has won third place in an annual environmental competition run by the European Travelers’ Association, according to Ynet News.


The Beersheva “ring-trail” – Israel’s only city-encompassing path – was planned and initiated by the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), and the Committee for Israel’s Hiking Trails, which were both named recipients of the award.


The trail winds through historical and heritage sites, parks and observatories. It was chosen for the award because of the urban-environmental model on which it was based, which meshes together environmental, leisure and social activities.


The idea for the route came in 2007, when teenagers involved in an SPNI program discovered Byzantine ruins on the outskirts of the city.


SPNI preserved the site, and then decided to try to link all the sites surrounding Beersheva in the 42km walking trail. It was helped in the task by the city of Beersheva, the Israel Nature and National Parks Service, the Jewish National Fund, the Antiquities’ Authority and the Committee for Israel’s Hiking Trails.


The route, which also includes a biking trail running parallel, was marked in 2008 and included in Israel’s hiking maps in 2011. It was officially opened in 2012 by Beersheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich.