Ramon Crater is a spectacular geological structure in the Negev desert in Israel. It is located on the top of Mount Negev about 85 km. south of the city of Beer Sheva. Its surface is not really an impact crater of a meteor, its mostly erosion and the world’s largest basin.
The crater is 40 km. long and 2-10 km. wide and shaped like an elongated heart. Currently, the crater is part of the Ramon Nature Reserve, which includes the surrounding mountains. The only settlement in this region is the small town of Mitzpe Ramon (“observation point”), located on the northern edge of the crater. Ramon name comes from the Arabic word Ruman (Roman), and is probably related to an ancient trade route used occasionally by the Roman Empire, passing through the crater.
Mitzpe Ramon appears roughly halfway between Jerusalem and the seaside resort of Eilat on the Red Sea coast.
Ramon Crater also contains layers of rock that have provided important information to scientists about the evolution of the Earth. Among the finds in the crater, fossilized plants, reptiles and dinosaur footprints estimated to date back to 200 million years ago.
Mitzpe Ramon is located in the desert at an altitude of 1,100 meters and the dry, torrid heat is cooled by a refreshing night breeze. It is also a fertile ground for planting new vineyards producing quality grapes. In addition, some scholars have made their home in Mitzpeh Ramon and the Ben Gurion University has its desert research institute there, which studies the geology, flora and fauna of the crater. The University of Tel Aviv also installed an observatory in the city. There is an internal secondary school arts and a Yeshivat hesder for soldiers who want to combine religious study with military service. Another place of interest is the Nabataean archaeological site of Avdat. But the main attraction remains the crater itself.
The Visitor Center in the north of the town allows an overview of the crater. Visitors ascend through an exhibition explaining this unusual geological phenomenon, before they reach panoramic windows overlooking the crater. In addition to nature lovers, Mitzpeh Ramon also attracts entrepreneurs seeking to establish tourist-oriented businesses.