Remains of a 12th century Crusader fortress on the hilltop at Latrun
Latrun, the site of many famous military battles, is located on a hilltop about half-way along the 40 mile road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This is believed to be the place where Joshua commanded the sun to stand still while he fought the Caananites. The Maccabees, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs and British marched through here on the way to Jerusalem. In Israel's War for Independence in 1948, some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place at Latrun.
At the foot of the hill are the remains of the Emmaus (Nicopolis) Church, first built in the 5th century, over the site believed to be the place where Jesus appeared to two of his disciples after his resurrection (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-31). The remains of a 12th century Crusader fortress, Le Toron des Chevaliers lie on top of the hill. Saladin wrecked the fortress on his march to stop Richard the Lion-Heart from advancing into Jerusalem. Since the Middle Ages, this place has been known as "Domus Boni Latronis" (Latin for "resting place of the good thief") the traditional burial place of the "good thief" crucified with Jesus. Today three Christian communities have houses of prayer here. The Latrun Monastery, built on the hillside, was founded in 1890 by a group of Trappist monks from France. The Jesus-Bruderschaft, an ecumenical Christian community from Germany, and the French Community of the Beatitudes, run retreat centers here as well.