In 1940, the Latrun station was built under the British Mandate in a rural area on the road to Jerusalem. It was constructed as a police station/self-defensible fortress. On May 14, 1948, upon their departure from Israel, the British evacuated Latrun. 4 days later, on May 18th, the Jordanian Legion took control.
Five times the Israeli army attacked Latrun but failed to take control. It was not until the 1967 war that that the area was finally captured by Israeli troops and a more direct road to Jerusalem was built.
Today, Latrun serves as the Armored Corps Memorial site and Museum. It is Israel’s official site for the 4965 (so far) soldiers of armored units that have fallen serving the country. It is also one of the most diverse tank museums in the world.
The first time I visited Latrun, I was in awe at the sheer size of the place and the collection of tanks that serve as a giant jungle gym. I was there for a ceremony for my boyfriends little brother who had just finished training to be a tank commander.
Before the ceremony, we walked around the site; By wall of names that list every fallen soldier, through the main building, the museum that is home to tanks from the 1940’s till today and the amphitheater where the ceremony would take place.
The kid in me was excited to climb on all the tanks and take silly pictures to send back home. But the adult, that had grown up in a Jewish home, always with a strong love of Israel, was fascinated by the meaning and historical significance of this site to the state of Israel.
The ceremony featured army units, marching in formation with the band playing. They presented awards to exemplary soldiers and sang Israel’s national anthem, ‘Hatikvah’. I found myself in this amphitheater surrounded by 1000 Israelis singing about the hope of this small and unlikely nation.
If you want to visit a place in Israel that carries real historical significance and also captures the kids attention, then Latrun is a must see! It’s beautiful surroundings, central location and history make this one of my favorite spots in Israel.