The Bride of Palestine
Located 16 km north of Jerusalem, at an elevation of 900 m above sea level at the crest of the Hills. It is known as the “Bride of Palestine” for its general geographical beauty. Ramallah has a pleasant, cool climate and has long been a popular Summer resort. . During the twelfth century, French Crusaders built a stronghold in Ramallah, and the remains of a Crusader tower, known as At-Tira, can still be seen in the old part of town.
Modern Ramallah has a lively town centre, museums, art galleries, theatres, parks, booming restaurant scene, and bustling nightlife, Ramallah is a fast-growing cosmopolitan town. It is also much serviced for visitor, with comfortable places to stay, some Palestine’s best restaurants, good transport and other tourism –related services, and hospitable, friendly people
Ramallah’s twin city, Al-Bireh, is located on the central ridge running through the mountain of central Palestine, and is 900m above sea level, its location served as a cross–border trade.
between the north and south, along the caravan route between Jerusalem and Nablus. The name of Al -Bireh is derived from the Canaanite name Beeroth means “Water Well”. In Roman period named Berta means castle, during Crusader period a settlement was established on al Bireh, and was first known as Mahumeria then its name was changed to Magna Mahumeria means the worshiping. The Crusaders built a tower, administrative building (Curia) which was used as a Crusader headquarter, in addition to a church which was located at the center of the city.
According to Christian tradition, Joseph and Mary rested in Al-Bireh on their way from Jerusalem to Nazareth when they discovered that Jesus was missing. A Crusader church, known as the Church of the Holy Family, marks the spot where they stopped. The church of al-Bira is recorded in September 1128, when it and the other villages appurtenances were confirmed to Holy Sepulcher by Pope Honorius II. Around 1172 the Pilgrim Theodric recorded that the Church dedicated to St. Mary which belonged to the Templars, might have been converted in to a mosque in the Ayyubid period .By 1514 the vaulting had collapsed ,most walls were still recognized until the First World War. The church plan is a three –aisled basilica of four bays, measuring overall about 22 by 34/37 m .Its east end terminated in to three semi –circular apses, the central one being preceded by a barrel-vault .2.10m deep. The walls were about 2.70m thick, on the inside they were faced throughout with smoothly dressed ashlars, and on the outside with rougher blocks. The main door was probably in the center of the west.
Beitin is located approximately 14 km north of Jerusalem and 5 kilometres east of Ramallah. It is identified as ancient Beth El (House of God). The town of Beitin was mentioned in the classical sources as a city fortified by Bacchides, military commander of Ptolemy Soter of Egypt, and destroyed by Vespasian during the uprising against the Romans.
The site of Tell Beitin was excavated between 1934 and 1960 by W. F. Albright and J. L. Kelso on behalf of the American School of Oriental Research. The earliest remains date to the Bronze Age, around 2100 BC. The town was settled throughout the Iron Age and the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mamluke, and late-Ottoman periods.
New archaeological surveys and excavations were carried out at Beitin by a joint Palestinian-Japanese expedition between 2011 and 2013, from the Palestinian Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and Keio University, Japan, in cooperation with the local community of Beitin, under the direction of H. Taha and D. Sugimoto.
The expedition team conducted a general survey of the Beitin area, mapping out the main archaeological features, including the tell, the burj, the water system, and the cultural landscape. Burj Beitin is believed to be the site of a Byzantine monastery built of ashlar stones, and which is composed of an impressive triple gate, rooms paved with beautiful coloured mosaics, a two-story tower with a door, a central courtyard, and a cistern within a perimeter wall. The preserved parts of the mosaic floors are decorated with geometric and floral patterns, including bunches of grapes. The excavation in the western area next to the tower uncovered the western door of the tower and courtyards paved with flagstones from the first phase of its construction. The construction techniques and the materials showed that the tower was constructed during the Byzantine period (fourth century AD), and was renovated several times before the beginning of the Mamluk Period. The other important result of this excavation was the identification of the Mamluk town of Beitin. The village of Beitin is a living museum, with its rich archaeological and cultural resources. It has great potential for being developed as an important tourist attraction in Palestine.
The picturesque town of Taybeh is located 12km northeast of Ramallah, from its elevated spot it overlooks the desert wilderness, the Jordan Valley, Jericho, and the Dead Sea. Taybeh is also rich in history and culture. Ruins of a Byzantine church known as ”Al Khader” (Saint George) are situated east of town. Still standing are two chapels, an entrance portico and stairway, parts of a mosaic floor, and its well-preserved baptistery. The church was rebuilt by the Crusaders during the 12th century. In 2010 the Department of Antiquities discovered a tomb dating back to Byzantine to early Islamic period .Restoration work was carried out in downtown of Taybeh, an annual October fest is held in the town
The village of Abud is located 30km northwest of Jerusalem, lying on the principal Roman road via Gophna (Jifna) to Antipatris (Ras el-‘Ain).Archaeological surveys have revealed a long history of occupation, stretching from the Roman period to the present. Evidence of Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman occupation was attested in several sites of the village, such as the coloured rock-cut tombs in el- Maqati‘, 2 km west. The site was identified with Casale Santa Maria of the Crusader period. Abud was mentioned in the Frankish sources (12th century) as the village of St. Mary sold by Baldwin of Mirabel to the Hospital in 1167. From 1176 the income from the village was devoted to the provisions of white bread for the sick in the Hospital in Jerusalem In this period three Syriac monks from Abud are mentioned in the colophons of liturgical manuscripts. The first is Elias, who constructed the monastery of Deir el-Kaukab, between Abud and Deir Abu Mashal (Belfort), sometime after 1030; In the Late Medieval (14 century) Yaqut Al-Hamawi described Abud as a small village near Jerusalem The village of Abud was mentioned in the Ottoman dafters in the late 16th century as part of the Ramla Nahiya Later Abud was part of the Banei Zeid region.
A number of ruined churches dating to the Byzantine and early Medieval period were identified in and around the village of Abud, including Mar Abadiya church, St. Anastasia’s Church, St. Barbara’s church, St. Theodore’s church and St. Mary church.
The church of St. Mary al-‘Abudiyah
Located in the centre of the old village of Abud. The church was dedicated to St. Mary, presumably during the Crusader period, when the village was renamed as Casale Santa Maria. An Aramaic inscription found on the vault of the south aisle indicates that it had been rebuilt during the Fatimid period, in “the 450th year of the Bedouins”, which would bring us to the year 1058. The inscription mentions also the founder of the church. According to the popular religious tradition, Jesus Christ passed through this road to Nazareth avoiding the road via Samaria, because of the eminent hostility between Jews and Samaritans. The church is known for its miracles, and therefore occupies a distinguished position among the churches of Abud. It is visited by Christians of Palestine and Jordan, especially on the annual feast of the Virgin Mary, on August 28, for the blessings and making vows.
Nabi Samwil (Prophet Samuel)
Is situated on top of a mountain, 890m above sea level and 4 km north of Jerusalem. The village is traditionally held to contain the tomb of the prophet Samwil from which the village receives its name. It was built around a mosque with a minaret that offers an extensive view of the hills of Jerusalem. Its mosque acts as a prominent landmark. The site consists of a large turreted mosque and a cellar, which holds the cloth-covered tomb of Samuel. In Byzantine period a monastery was built at Nabi Samwil, serving as a hostel for Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. It was restored and enlarged during the reign of Justinian I in the mid-6th-century AD.
Is located at an altitude of 739m above sea level , a few kilometres north of Nabi Samwil, the picturesque village of Al-Jib is the site of the ancient Canaanite city of “Gibeon”, meaning a hilltop, and it was mentioned by the Romans and Franks as Gabaon.Archaeological excavations confirmed this identification with the discovery of 56 jar handles inscribed with the Semitic triliteral gb’n. In the seventh century, Gibeon was a prosperous wine-producing city. Excavations in the area have uncovered sixty-three wine cellars, each capable of storing forty-two large barrels of wine. Other interesting finds include a well-preserved ancient water system.The ancient tell is a rocky hill situated in the midst of a beautiful, intensely cultivated plain, the site included an impressive ancient water system (twelfth- to eleventh-century BC) water pool and a cistern which have a spiral staircase of 79 steps cut in solid rock, giving access to a spring outside the walls. This system denied water to attackers while making it available to inhabitants under siege.
Located at the southern entrance of Al-Bireh, 14 kilometers northwest of Jerusalem, the site lies adjacent to ancient road way connecting Jerusalem to Nablus. Tell en-Nasbah was occupied in the Late Chalcolitic and Early Bronze I periods, when it was a relatively small village. After this time the site was virtually abandoned until the beginning of the Iron Age. During 9-8th centuries the site was reused as a walled settlement with massive gate .Archaeological excavations uncovered pottery, coins and other small finds which indicate that some settlement at the site into the Hellenistic Roman period was probably an agricultural estate, occupied by a watch tower, kilns, a few buildings and fields. The tell does not seem to have been occupied in later times, though Byzantine tombs were found in the extra-mural cemeteries and the floor of a Byzantine church near the west cemetery was uncovered
The town of Birzeit is located in the hills around 10 km north of Ramallah. It is identified as ancient Berzetho from the Greek-Roman period. It was first occupied in the Bronze Age as attested by the site Tell Ar-Ras, which is north of the town. It was continuously inhabited during the Iron Age and the Greek-Roman period, as indicated by archaeological evidence at a site known as Khirbet Birzeit. The buildings in the center of town were built during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. Today, Birzeit is home to Birzeit University, the oldest university in Palestine, which was founded in 1924.
Located near Birzeit, Jifna is a small, scenic village that was once an important Roman-Byzantine city. Previously known as Gophna of Josephus, Jifna was the regional capital during the first century AD. Today, Jifna is a popular summer resort, offering a variety of outdoor restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
Ein Kenya Nature Reserve
A beautiful nature reserve 7 km northwest of Ramallah, Ein Kenya is named after its natural springs. A variety of wild plants, birds, and animals make Ein Kenya a great place for picnics and hiking.