Israel Seeks To Evict A Man Who Has Lived In A Handmade ‘Hermit House’ On The Beach For More Than 50 Years

Published July 12, 2023

Nissim Kahlon has lived in his fantastical cliffside home on Israel's Mediterranean coast since 1973 — but now he's at risk of losing his house forever.

Israeli Hermit House Of Nissim Kahlon

lorien22/Live JournalThe front of Nissim Kahlon’s extensive “hermit house” north of Tel Aviv.

For half a century, Nissim Kahlon has lived in a fantastical home on a beachside cliff in Herzliya, Israel. The home features a labyrinth of tunnels hand-chiseled by Kahlon, a multitude of chambers and patios, and even beautiful mosaics handcrafted out of glass bottles.

Kahlon, now 77, has long experienced the joy of living in a truly unique home and sharing that joy with curious tourists. But now, the Israeli government is looking to evict him and demolish this one-of-a-kind home.

The story of how this “hermit house” came to be begins 40 years ago when Nissim Kahlon decided he was tired of city life and wanted to move to the beach.

Nissim Kahlon

Apollonian StoryNissim Kahlon at work on his home, which he’s been building by hand since 1973.

“I decided that I didn’t want to live in the city, I love the sea, that’s how I came here. I don’t have to pay city tax because I don’t have garbage, I burn everything and use the ashes for concrete to build with,” Kachlon told Arutz Sheva, according to City Desert.

Kahlon lived out of a tent on the beach for some time before eventually selecting a cliff near Herzliya to be the site of his new home. Then, Kahlon began singlehandedly carving his home out of the cliff by hand.

He carved out extensive tunnels and chambers while using materials he found in dumpsters around Tel Aviv to decorate them.

Hobbit Home Interior

Green ProphetThe interior of the highly decorated home.

Nearly every surface of the home is now covered in bright mosaics, serving as both decoration and insulation for the home.

The home even has plumbing and electricity. And although the Israeli government cited the home as being unsafe, environmentally damaging, and unlawful as early as 1974, Kahlon insisted that it was structurally sound and sustainable.

“From the stones I quarry I make a cast and build a wall. There’s no waste here, only material, that’s the logic,” he told the Associated Press. “Everything is useful, there’s no trash.”

Israeli Beach Cave Kitchen

City DesertThe kitchen of Nissim Kahlon’s home.

Kahlon is adamant about keeping his one-of-a-kind home for himself. In the face of government threats, Kahlon argues that the local government connected his home to the power grid decades ago, saying that this is tantamount to recognition of the home’s legitimacy.

“I am not leaving here. I am ready for them to bury me here,” Kahlon stated in an interview with the Associated Press. “I have nowhere to go, I have no other home.”

Although the Israeli government has stated that they will provide alternative housing for him, Kahlon refuses to leave the home he built with his bare hands.

In fact, as he waits to see whether the government will demolish his home, he continues to build more tunnels.

“I’m doing something to feel something,” he told the Associated Press. “I can’t sit around all day.”

House Built By Nissim Kahlon

lorien22/Live JournalThe view of the Mediterranean Sea from the home.

Overall, Kahlon, whose name means miracle in Hebrew, is hoping for just that.

According to Green Prophet, the Municipality of Herzliya appealed to UNESCO to recognize the home as a world heritage site.

Furthermore, locals in the area have even started fundraisers to support the preservation of the home.

Kahlon is grateful for the support and widespread attention his home has received.

“I like it here alone. I’m always busy doing things and building. People also come here to teach Torah,” he said, according to City Desert. “Everyone is welcome to come and visit.”

After learning about the astonishing home of Nissim Kahlon, discover the story of Bishop’s Castle, the Colorado palace that one man has been building since 1969. Then, learn about Dick Proenneke, the man who lived in a handmade Alaskan cabin for 30 years.

Amber Breese
Amber Breese is a former Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.